Toronto, ON, Canada
International terrorism, radical fundamentalism,
natural disasters, AIDS, ethno-geographical wars, oppressive regimes,
devastating poverty and the widening gap between the haves and have-nots
indicate that the state of the world is not well. Radical positive
psychology is needed for the radical times of 21st century.
Radical positive psychology (RPP) moves beyond
the comfortable confines of American positive psychology which focuses
on personal happiness and individual success in “normal people”
under normal or benign conditions. RPP asks a different set of research
questions: What does life demand of us as individually and collectively?
What is our responsibility to society and humanity? How can we promote
peace, harmony and well-being in the world? What can we empower
people in radical circumstances or “boundary conditions”
to find meaning, hope and happiness?
RPP involves a broader epistemology, theoretical
framework and methodology. More specifically, it embraces different
knowledge claims and research methodologies. It recognizes the contributions
from indigenous psychology around the globe. It emphasizes cross-cultural
research on a participatory basis and the need to balance insiders’
Conceptually, RPP rejects the false dichotomy
of negative and positive psychology and accepts the duality of negatives
and positives as the essence of the human condition. Thus, in instead
of simply focusing on the positive, RPP emphasizes the need to bring
out the positive in negative situations. The basic premise is that
the best way to accentuate the positive is through transcending
and transforming the negative. Thus, hope is redefined as the ability
to believe in a better future in spite of bleak reality and happiness
as the capacity to rejoice in the midst of suffering.
Apart from laying out the theoretical framework
for RPP, the presentation will provide empirical findings and what
makes life worth living in different cultures, and how restore hope
and happiness in radical times.
In sum, RPP avoids Eurocentric biases and moves
to develop a bold vision of systems psychology, which incorporates
both etic and emic laws for both individual and society.
Its mission is to advance a humble and cooperative agenda towards
international participatory research in order to enhance the well-being
of all people especially the disadvantaged and disenfranchised.
* Keynote address to be given at the International
Council of Psychologists in San Diego, August 11-14, 2007. For more
information, please visit www.internationalcouncilofpsychologists.com