Alumni Messenger




Elliot Benjamin, Ph.D

In the referenced article of this same title, I explore the current dominant and widespread medical model psychopharmacological emphasis upon which our managed care mental health society is based. This extreme psychopharmacological emphasis appears to me to be in essential conflict with the pioneering humanistic psychology visions of Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow, with their emphasis upon creative human potential, authenticity of deep self, exploration of genuine feelings, etc. Rather than medicate us out of our difficulties, existential, humanistic, and transpersonal psychologies emphasize our essential human condition, along with our noble abilities to transcend this condition. However, in recent years there has been an important movement to incorporate humanistic, existential, and transpersonal psychologies into the psychology mainstream by combining dominant cognitive and behavioral psychologies into its realms. This is especially apparent in Ken Wilber’s integral psychology, which is inclusive of the use of psychotropic medication in the context of integral psychiatry. In a similar spirit, I encourage the careful use of psychotropic medication not as an easy way out in itself, but as a necessary tool to assist some people with gaining the ability to enter the self exploration mode of authentic humanistic psychotherapy. However, I do not hesitate to affirm that it is my own personal preference to not utilize psychopharmacology to resolve my personal issues, but rather to continue on my path of self awareness and spiritual exploration in a natural way that does not require this kind of medicated assistance.

Benjamin, E. (2008). The person versus the pill. AHP Perspective

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Playing the Imperial Game: The Mind-set Behind the Attack on Iraq


Marc Pilisuk, Ph.D. and Jennifer Achord Rountree, M.A.

The mind-set in which the world and its inhabitants are all instruments in a game to gain competitive advantage is very much a part of the belief system that legitimizes global violence. Game theory provides a framework which describes how the end goal of U. S.–driven global games has been the expansion of markets. The United States’ preemptive military action in Iraq is but one example of a number of strategic interventions in the tradition of U. S. foreign policy that has followed, rather than lead, the corporate agenda. The most aggressive military actions are particularly expressed in ideological terms such as the desire to make the world a better place, one with democratic elections and the benefits of free trade. Shifting strategic diplomatic relations with Iraq and Iraq’s one hundred-year history of petro-imperialism, both of which have been overlooked, underlie a strategic mind-set that promotes coercive actions to meet the end goal of expanded markets and corporate growth. Failure to understand the game contributes to our tendency to view the Iraq fiasco as a mistake rather than a product of a system that produces such tragedies.

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A Study of Altruism


Lisa K. Mastain, Ph.D.

The topic of altruism, its origin in human consciousness, its role in human relationships and even its very existence has been a subject of debate for centuries. There is very little agreement on whether altruism, in its purest form, even exists, let alone on how it should be defined, and studied. And yet, in spite of differing opinions on the topic, researchers and bystanders alike have been, and continue to be fascinated by the apparently selfless acts of service extended to others by both ordinary individuals as well as by the moral exemplars amongst us.

Paradoxically, my interest in altruism has evolved out of my abhorrence of the atrocities committed by ostensibly normal individuals to millions of men, women and children of Jewish descent during the Holocaust. The magnitude of cruelty, the lack of compassion, and the complacency of so many individuals in the face of such immense human suffering continues to be deeply disturbing to me.

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Art and Mental Disturbance


Elliot Benjamin, Ph.D.

In order to concretely conceptualize the creative artist who may be on the higher levels of Maslow’s hierarchy, I define the “successful creative artist” to be a person who has received the respect and acknowledgement for his or her work by a community of his or her peers or of society at large and who is also considered both psychologically and ethically to be a “well adjusted” member of his or her society and the greater world. I use the term “creative artist” quite generally, to include various creative disciplines, such as music, writing, painting, dance, mathematics, science, etc., as well as socially creative innovations that are beneficial to humankind. I propose what I refer to as the “artistic theory of psychology,” with the following basic premises: 1. the successful creative artist resonates with the highest levels of Maslow’s hierarchy of human potential; 2. there are some people labeled as mentally ill who have the potential of becoming successful creative artists; 3. a sensitive, understanding, supportive educational environment may be conducive to enabling a mentally disturbed person with creative artistic potential to significantly develop and actualize this potential in life. Along the lines of Thomas Szasz and R.D. Laing, that which is referred to as “mental illness” is viewed from a nonjudgmental perspective but with the distinctive feature of suggesting that some people who are considered to be mentally ill may have significant creative artistic potential that can be highly therapeutic for them to engage in , both for themselves and for society at large.

Benjamin, E. (2008). Art and mental disturbance. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 48(1), 61-88.

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