Date: July 11, 2016 at 3:00:41 AM EDT
Subject: [DIVOFFICERS] violence in our cities
Reply-To: "McDaniel, Susan (Psychiatry)" <SusanH2_McDaniel@URMC.ROCHESTER.EDU>
Good evening to you all:
While I work with staff on an Op Ed piece about psychological science, the roots of violence, racial bias—conscious and unconscious, and the challenges facing police, I want to write more immediately to recognize for all of us psychologists how heart-breaking and tragic these recent events are for our communities and our country. The headlines of today's NY Times, above the fold, say it all: America Grieves, Tense and Wary; Seeking Unity, Nation Debates Racial Chasm; Officers Confront Dual Role: Villain and Victim; and Gunman Honed Military Skills to a Deadly Outcome in Dallas.
It is a time for us, individually and collectively, to put our psychological science and practice skills to work as best we can—reaching out to our patients, our colleagues, our students, our friends, our families, and our communities--to encourage dialogue over violence, understanding over ignorance, and to bring about greater equity and opportunity for all people in our country. As leaders in APA, we all know there is so much talent in our discipline and our association; let us each bring it bear in helping this awful moment move towards something much stronger for the futures of all our people.
In February of this year in response to my Presidential column in the Monitor on developing a "Collaborative Habit," I received a hand-written, passionate letter from a psychologist who described himself as "88.6 years old." Attached was a typed essay he wrote a couple years before in which, based on his work with group psychotherapy, he proposed starting a nationwide network of psychologists who would facilitate diverse groups of people to "just talk" and work towards greater understanding of each other. Believe me, I am not implying life is that simple. The structural racism and violence in this country goes far beyond just talk. But it is an example of one psychologist wanting to use his skills to improve our country. Similarly, a clinical researcher wrote and after talking about empathy, the ability to listen and understand, concern about the welfare of others, and the ability to remain non-judgmental in difficult situations, she said: As psychologists, we can serve as models for what kind of attitude and actions we can take to get ourselves out of the current mess we are in as a country.
My heart is heavy tonight. I hope we can each find a way to contribute professionally and personally, as effectively as possible, through our knowledge of psychological science, practice, education, and policy. We must do more to improve the lives and opportunities available to all our people. Thanks for all you do,
Susan H McDaniel PhD ABPP
Dr Laurie Sands Distinguished Professor of Families & Health
Director, Institute for the Family, Department of Psychiatry
Associate Chair, Department of Family Medicine
University of Rochester Medical Center
2016 President, American Psychological Association