Modern psychology’s emphasis on identity politics and progressive worldviews above personalized treatment approaches helped drive Christopher Ferguson, professor of psychology at Stetson University, to recently resign his position at the American Psychological Association.
He had served on its Council of Representatives and as president of the organization’s Society for Media and Technology, but resigned from the organization in December.
In a telephone interview this month with The College Fix, he said the decision came after years of ill-advised APA policies that placed political correctness over patient care.
One recent example he cited was the APA statement released following the death of George Floyd. He said its language implied that “if you’re black, you can’t walk to the mailbox without getting shot, which is not true at all.”
Another recent example he cited in a Quillette piece was the APA’s “inclusive language” guide put forth in 2021: “‘Mentally ill’ is replaced with the clunky ‘person living with a mental health condition’ and ‘prostitute’ with ‘person who engages in sex work.’ We’ll no longer have the elderly or seniors (‘older adults’ or ‘persons 65 years and older’). … Advocating color-blindness is out, as are caucasians (‘White’ or ‘European’ is preferred). We’re not to talk about birth sex or people being born a boy or girl (‘assigned female/male at birth’ is the language of choice now). There are no more poor people just ‘people whose incomes are below the federal poverty threshold.’ We’re not to use words like ‘pipeline’ (‘triggering’ to Native Americans given controversies over fuel oil pipelines on Native lands), ‘spirit animal’ (use ‘animal I would most like to be’ which isn’t really the same thing) instead, or ‘tribe.’ ‘Violent’ language like ‘killing it’ or ‘take a stab at it’ is to be avoided. A lot of this is obvious safetyism, which I worry that, by treating people like they’re made of spun glass and incentivizing outrage and offense, will contribute to escalating mental health crises. But, as others have pointed out, it’s also elitist as most people couldn’t hope to keep up with the ever-changing language rules of the academic elite.”
Ferguson told The College Fix he was “embarrassed to be associated with this.”
Prior to his resignation, Ferguson tried to curb what he saw as misguided policies and stances driven more by politics and ideology than healthcare.
He met with the heads of the organization’s science directorate and public policy directorate. “I was wildly unsuccessful,” Ferguson admitted with a chuckle.
“Therapy is being developed … to coddle the egos of people who’ve developed these worldviews rather than to actually help the patients,” Ferguson said. “The mission has become convincing everyone to become more or less progressive rather than actually fixing their problems with their families, with their stress, with their work.”
That’s the opposite of how he was trained decades ago. He was taught to be very politically neutral and not allow personal politics to become involved in the therapeutic setting.
“We’re telling people to do all the things we used to tell them not to do in therapy: catastrophize, generalize, personalize,” he said. “These are all things that are associated with worse mental health, and now we’re actually telling them to do it.”
At least partially, Ferguson attributes the decline of his field to a mob mentality that’s developed among adherents to progressive worldviews that hyper-focus on identity politics.
“When people convince themselves they’re on the morally righteous path, then they’re ability to engage in critical thinking tends to decline,” he said.
[TBC: Ferguson is finding faults with “modern” psychology, but needs to consider its origins. Psychological concepts and techniques originated with godless anti-Christians as “Freud – who, by the way, couldn't straighten out their own lives” and frankly fit very well with those teaching what Ferguson critiques. See “Christian” Psychology, the February 2018 TBC newsletter.]