Friday, December 08, 2006

Congrats to Kazdin

A few days ago, Alan Kazdin won the election for American Psychological Association president. I couldn't be more pleased.

Here are some of the statements from his site that make me pleased he was victorious:

"Our key strength is our science, and I would like to make our science more prominent in relation to the public, other disciplines, and policy makers. Professionals from many disciplines--including our own--espouse positions on matters that could be better informed by our findings. As one illustration, consider the topic of child rearing. Books, talk shows, newspaper columns, and internet resources wax non-empirical on how to raise one’s children. Psychological research hardly has all the answers on the challenges of child-rearing, but much of the guidance currently available to the public is riddled with recommendations that violate of research findings or that we know to be misguided. We need to educate the public even better about our research and its practical applications."

He also discussed gene-environment interactions, which is definitely an important topic that will hopefully yield a boatload of interesting findings.

He also talked about health care, broadly, mentioning at one point:
"First, we should be doing more to break down the conventional assumption of a mind-body dualism. Although the health-care establishment and the general public do recognize some mind-body connections (e.g., exercise can ameliorate some forms of depression), there is much more here. We need to show that, when it comes to health care, a separation of mind and body is the exception rather than the rule. The connections between physical illness and mental illness--e.g., depression and heart disease, schizophrenia and diabetes, harsh punishment in childhood and later increased mortality of cancer, heart disease, and respiratory disease--are among the scores of examples connecting psychosocial and biological domains. We know now that core topics and processes of psychology (e.g., learning and memory) are related to critical biological processes and physical states, but some of the relationships are surprising: the links among hormones in the stomach, hunger, and learning, for instance. Clinical psychology has uncovered a wealth of intriguing connections: for instance, cigarette smoking is a risk factor for panic attacks, and may even maintain them."

Further, he stated:

"In short, both the treatment and prevention aspects of health care for almost all citizens entail fostering certain kinds of behavior, hence making psychology relevant across the entire health-care spectrum. I mentioned patient adherence to treatment, but the parallel issues in relation to prevention are no less significant. For example, as a society we must foster better compliance by parents in obtaining vaccinations for their children. This is not about parents' adherence alone, but draws on multiple areas of psychology to foster system change, policy change, technology change, and so on."

Kazdin has a long and distinguished scientific record. Academic psychology is a contentious business, yet I have never met anyone with an ill word to say about Dr. Kazdin. Though he's clearly a behaviorist, he takes all evidence into consideration, even that which does not necessarily match his theoretical orientation. This, among academic psychologists is somewhat of a major accomplishment! About the only thing I don't like is that he favors prescription privileges for psychologists, while I find such a proposition potentially dangerous to the future of the field. But across the board, I'm a Kazdin fan.

Cheers to APA members for electing an excellent candidate!

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