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Essay: The Incestuous-ness of Psychologists in Practice

Posted by on May 31, 2017

The Incestuous-ness of Psychologists in Business

When do we STOP in-breeding?

For the love of everything good in this world, I cannot fathom why – in the world of business psychology – the question of intent is consistently, pointedly, and purposefully raised in every possible escapade of psychology-on-psychology relationships. We seem to find ourselves so immersed in the realm of ethical and legal practices that are only for the betterment of the individual at hand, that we forget to actually just be…well…normal people in a profession. And through this, we are generating a profession of incestuous practices. We no longer create business platforms to make new relationships, but rather to reiterate our previous reasons as to why we can only relate to, communicate with, and be in relations with the very place in which our birthing was situated. By this, I mean the university or institution that held a strong role over the professionalisation of ourselves.

Time and again when I engage with another psychologist who might have been “birthed” in a place other my own, I am usually faced with three points of conversation. Firstly, the difference between the alternative party’s upbringing and my own; secondly, the way in which this has framed the alternative party’s perspective of our profession; and finally what my intention is behind simply communicating with the alternative party. It’s as if, in our fear of breaking any ethical proximity or boundary (that may or may not exist or be applicable at that point in time), we have created ourselves miniature islands of “safe houses”. Don’t know what to do or who to talk to? Go to your safe house – there you will be okay. Anyone else speaking to you? They want to get into your safe house – keep them out!

In so doing, we are further deliberating our own demise in the profession of psychology (I am leaving out any label or differentiator of “psychologist” on purpose here). I have written previously about the dilemma of psychologists having to survive in today’s economy and how this has brought about blurry lines and delimitations of who can practice what and where. I want to further iterate how this infatuation with “allowed” or not is stopping us from creating new concepts, defining new practices, or even performing our tasks in a united front for betterment and improvement of the end user. Practicing psychology in the workplace is not an easy feat in and of itself, so why the hell are we making it so darn difficult, for ourselves, on top of all of the other challenges we need to face?

At this point in time, there is turmoil within the ranks and hierarchy of Industrial Psychology in South Africa. Houses have formed and abruptly broken down, leaving those under the reign of leadership subservient to their own logic and good reason. This is not enough to direct the future of Industrial Psychology. From our backgrounds and upbringing, we are likely to go back to our independent roots and grow fruit only where “our own” can reap the rewards. Simply put, this is not good enough!

Since when are we – the coaches and mentors and guides and so-called wisemen of the business world – unable to lead our own? Are we seriously waiting for a large star to guide us all in the same direction, so that we may all end up at the same conclusion? We speak of external locus of control ruling our economy and a lack of altruistic charge over our own futures. We speak a lot. When will we do something that will break the incest? Break the fear of “intentions” behind every relationship? When will we do something that will break the boundaries within our own ranks. Break it all, to actually build it up again? Because from where I am standing at this point in time, something has to break. The sad thought is that, if the current system doesn’t break, it will break for the new generation entering into it. And what kind of child will be born from that?


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Wonderwhiterabbit hopping off

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