In November 2014, people around the world who decry oppression will commemorate the 25th anniversary of liberation psychologist Ignacio Martin-Baró’s assassination in El Salvador by a “counter-insurgency unit” created at the US Army’s School of the Americas.
On November 16, 1989, in El Salvador, liberation psychologist Ignacio Martin-Baró, together with five colleagues, their housekeeper and her teenage daughter, were forced into a courtyard on the campus of Universidad Centroamericana José Simeón Cañas, where they were then murdered by the Salvadoran government’s elite Atlacatl Battalion, a “counter-insurgency unit” created at the US Army’s School of the Americas in 1980. The massacre is detailed in the Report of the UN Truth Commission on El Salvador.
This year, 25 years after Martin-Baró’s assassination, the Liberation Psychology Network, the Latin American journal Teoría y Crítica de la Psicología, and peace and justice activists around the world will commemorate Martin-Baró, whose integrity, courage and activism for the people of El Salvador cost him his life. Embarrassingly, the vast majority of US psychologists and psychiatrists know nothing about Martin-Baró and liberation psychology. Outside of Pacifica Graduate Institute, I’m not aware of any US graduate program with an announced focus on liberation psychology.
Noam Chomsky, longtime critic of both the US government and US psychology, has tried to inform the world about the life and work of Martin-Baró. Chomsky, in praising a collection of his essays, Writings for a Liberation Psychology, said that Martin-Baró had a “rare combination of intelligence and heroism to the challenge his work sets forth ‘to construct a new person in a new society.’ His life and achievement are a true inspiration.”
Why would the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association and other mainstream mental health institutions keep US psychologists, psychiatrists and the general public ignorant of the life and work of Martin-Baró?
As a Jesuit priest, Martin-Baró embraced liberation theology in opposition to a theology that oppressed the poor, and as a social psychologist, he believed that imported North American psychology also oppressed the majority of people. Martin-Baró concluded that mainstream psychology either ignored or only paid lip service to social and economic conditions that shape people’s lives.
Ruling elites and power structures – from monarchies to military dictatorships to the US corporatocracy – have routinely used “professionals” to control the population from rebelling against injustices so as to maintain the status quo. While power structures routinely rely on police and armies to subdue populations, they have also used clergy – thus, the need for liberation theology. And today, the US corporatocracy uses mental health professionals to manipulate and medicate people to adjust and thereby maintain the status quo – thus, the need for liberation psychology.
In order to control other nations – be they in Latin America, Native America or elsewhere – the US corporatocracy has provided power and prestige for both individuals and institutions that meet its needs. Martin-Baró observed the following about North American psychology: “In order to get social position and rank, it negotiated how it would contribute to the needs of the established power structure.”
The actions by US psychologists and psychiatrists that contribute to the needs of the power structure for social position and rank have gotten even more blatant since Martin-Baró’s death.
Shortly after the tragic events of September 11, 2001, the American Psychological Association (APA) made high-level efforts to nurture relationships with the US Department of Defense (DOD), the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and other government agencies. As Truthout reported earlier this year, the APA aimed “to position psychology and behavioral scientists as key players in US counterterrorism and counterintelligence activities.”
For several years the APA not only condoned, but actually applauded psychologists’ assistance in interrogation or torture in Guantánamo and elsewhere. When it was discovered that psychologists were working with the US military and the CIA to develop brutal interrogation methods, an APA task force in 2005 concluded that psychologists were playing a “valuable and ethical role” in assisting the military; in 2007, an APA Council of Representatives retained this policy. It took until 2008 for APA members to vote for prohibiting consultations in interrogations (reported by Project Censored in 2010). …
Psychiatry epitomizes the mercenary streak in western medicine. Their metastasization into child “treatment” has been a disaster for countless kids whose only “defect” is their abuse. See:
http://www.stopshrinks.org/winkel/2nader080100.htm http://members.tranquility.net/~rwinkel/janel/TCR110411.mp3 http://members.tranquility.net/~rwinkel/janel/BurstowECT.mp3 http://members.tranquility.net/~rwinkel/psych/breggin.txt
Also search for psychiatry in my circumcision paper. APA stands for American Predatory Association.