Almost daily now I am hearing people say that we are living in a frightening time in history. Political leadership in many Western societies is failing to uphold basic standards of decency and proper governance; extreme left- and right-wing forces are seeking to remove our freedoms, and leaders of several countries are transforming their states into dictatorships. While social media has become a crucial instrument in facilitating these dynamics, the conventional media, instead of providing appropriate analysis and scrutiny, too often encourages this state of affairs. It appears that large parts of the media have become the lackies of these dynamics, with the UK media being no exception.
Polly Toynbee, for example, has said that the Daily Mail has done enormous damage to democracy in the UK and as long ago as 1958, Max Frisch’s play The Fire Raisers, evoked similar threats to society caused by language that is used to conceal rather than convey the truth. The play ends with the perpetrators’ house getting burned down.
Back in 1964 Herbert Marcuse identified ‘the one-dimensional person’, someone who has all but given up on independent thinking and who is instead fully immersed in a consumer society, drawing limited information from social media, reality TV or the tabloids and relying on overly simplistic arguments when looking at complex problems. Such immersion, he argued, creates a false sense of freedom. In order to create advanced societies, Marcuse called for free and critical thinking to become an integral element of our lives – and this requires that the media does its bit to provide independent, well-researched information.
The media in the field of psychotherapy likewise carries its share of perpetuating poorly-presented information that fails to address real issues. Take for example, the ongoing debate about the perceived superiority of certain psychotherapeutic modalities – as if Michael Lambert’s research into the greater significance of the role of the therapeutic relationship over modality has never happened.
Contemporary Psychotherapy carefully tries to steer through such murky waters, this issue bringing you thoughts from a range of authors. We hope you find these stimulating and thought provoking and, as always, we are keen to hear your thoughts and feedback.
I also like to let our readers know that Dr. Tamar Posner, who has been editor-in-chief for many years, has resigned. She has been involved with Contemporary Psychotherapy since its inception 10 years ago. Tamar has been instrumental in shaping this journal on many different levels. We will all miss her and wish her all the best for her new endeavours.
With best wishes,
Dr. Werner Kierski
Frisch, M. (1973) The Fire Raisers. York, Methuen Publishing
Lambert, M. (2013) Bergin and Garfield’s Handbook of Psychotherapy and Behavior Change. (6th Edition) Chicester, John Wiley & Sons
Marcuse, H. (2002) One-Dimensional Man: Studies in the Ideology of Advanced Industrial Society. London, Routledge. (first published 1964)