Reflecting on Unity


[Photo by Steve Wall]

For those of you finding the
discussion on unity in psychology a little dry (surely not!?!), I have good
news: this is the penultimate post in the series. In the next I will foolishly
attempt to summarise and comment on all of the articles in the second special
issue of the Journal of Clinical Psychology. This is not, of course, the end of
the discussion, just the beginning, but simply touching on this subject has
opened my eyes to a wealth of debates within psychology. I want to reflect on
this briefly.
My impression has been that
this subject attracts little interest precisely because it is, at the same
time, both everyone’s problem and no one’s problem. The strongest criticisms of
Henriques’ proposals point to organisational and political inertia: we don’t
like change, we are comfortable the way things are; motivation for change can
be difficult to access.
For me, though, the idea that
psychology should have a broadly accepted macro-level view sticks in my mind as
something that could, and should, exist. Many psychologists, while not
necessarily being interested in the broad idea of unity, are interested in how
their own work fits into the big picture. And here I return to Sternberg &
Grigorenko’s (2001) bottom-up approach to unity. It is when psychologists use
diverse methodologies and look for links across sub-disciplines, that some of
the best work is produced.

Looking to the future, the question of whether unity in psychology will be based on Henriques’ ideas is one to be worked out over time. At least the debate continues: if we have no debate, we have no progress.
About the author

Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD
is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from
University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about
scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book
“Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks.

Kayode Ojo
Kayode Emmanuel Ojo is the Co-Founder and Managing Director at SHEFFA Limited. He is presently studying Computer Science at the National Open University, Victoria Island, Lagos.