Monday, October 31, 2005

Organized Psychology says, "Bend Over!"

I have been following a debate, with some amusement, among psychologists in my state. The American Psychological Association is pushing prescription privileges for psychologists, and there are many of my colleagues who are hot and heavy to get them. I have a lengthy reply to the position paper of the state psychological organization that can be viewed by following this link: Feedback on Prescription Privileges

How much freedom does a psychologist have to dissent from APA? This issue came up when one psychologist suggested that there is no fence in APA. That is, APA has democratically decided to be in favor of prescription privileges. Thus, any organ of APA cannot take a position against this publicly. For example, Section 3 of Division 12 (Clinical Psychology) took a survey of members. The majority were opposed to prescription privileges for psychologists. APA forbade them from putting this on their website. APA is within its legal rights to do so, although this is where membership in a professional organization may start to feel like a straight jacket. There was a great deal of debate about this on the listserv.

But the "debate" has moved to an interesting place. The argument morphed into the idea that any individual psychologist who exercised his/her civil liberties to lobby the legislature (as an individual or member of a different organization) would harm all psychologists! My, my. Because APA would have put so much money and time and sweat into schmoozing legislators, anyone who dissents from the party line (even if you are not a member of the party) is a traitor.

This is what much of organized psychology appears to be heading toward, a loyalty test. It is interesting that "organized psychology" could be so threatened by individual testimony at odds with them. After cultivating those cherished relationships with lawmakers, many in large organizations appeared worried they could be undone by mavericks. If the legislative initiatives of organized psychology are so anemic that they can be snuffed out like a used up cigarette, then they've got bigger problems on their hands than keeping order in the ranks.