How to Fail as a Communitarian Psychologist*

By Saúl Miranda Ramos

Communitarian Psychology has several approaches since each professional could get close to work and cause praxis. These models of social intervention come since structuralism, functionalism, or social change until postmodern views; some of them are too technical and stiff, but others are more critical or unrestricted. To tell the true, thanks this entire walk we have arrived to new understandings that allow us to obtain more and better effects in reality we propose to change. The ideas are based on the knowledge that intervention since Communitarian Psychology could be addressed as social construction. Despite these advances many people reject them and show themselves stiff without plasticity; that is why the following ideas about how to fail as a Communitarian Psychologist could help them to lose time, money and efforts in failed social interventions.

To begin with, be a fundamentalist. I mean, have a unique scope of reality; if you are a psychoanalyst just see reality with psychoanalytical glasses in the same way if you are a Behaviorist just understand the world in terms of positivism. Furthermore, if you have a religion, see the communitarian reality since the ideas of that religion together with your personal beliefs about life in order to guarantee an unsuccessful community work. Coupled with, put a truth on another. That is, consider your beliefs as right but the beliefs of community not, the values of your religion as accurate versus the values of the community. This prism helps to consider your discipline (Anthropology, Psychology, Sociology, Social Work, or any other) as a conjunct of theories more valuables than the understandings regulate communities just because yours are fixed by Scientific method and the communitarian knowledge by other methods such as oral tradition. In the light of, diagnostic problems and communities in order to miss the mark in the work you want to develop inside a community. Every time you diagnostic you put labels and categories which once established are difficult to deconstruct; the effects of a category go further than we believe and damage communities as well as the relational individual that configures those communities. Examples of labels for communities are: poor people, society in paths of development, children in street situation, indigenous, single mothers, people who live with IHV, rebellious, and others that are charged of prejudices. Identically, be absolutist and inflexible. Consider your prejudices, moral convictions, superstitions, your culture, and Science as the unique true. All these thing considered, will help you to nullify the knowledge of communities and whole communities.

At the present time, be an essentialist that works with the absolute true. Absolute true, in one of the cases, means the beliefs that people “is”, “have to” and “must to”. When people are classified it´s possible to rest them freedom of other ways of being or standing in the world causing limits to their existence. As an illustration, women “have to”, homosexuals “haven´t to”, Mexicans “are”, Latin-Americans “aren´t”, Atheist “mustn´t to”, indigenous “must to”, between others, are examples of absolutisms. Likewise, look for causes, roots and structures and that will be the key to maintain the establishment because you cannot change the past, the causes and the origins. In this line you could maintain the status quo and generate changes that not change, so this is the path to understand what are at the back, the bottom, and limit to construct the present and the future. Identically, believe that map is territory. Since this appreciation, it is easy to confuse that representation of reality is reality, in the same way that constellations are the universe and negate the possibility to understand there are more stars than constellations. The value of this analogy is it allows the view of map as an oppressor of other parts of the territory not included. By the same token, use words such as maps, images, replica and mirror which implies reality exists a priori. Photography represents an instant of reality not reality because it is in a constant movement and constant change. If you insist to be unsuccessful, understand reality as an image, and the results of studies of community as reflects or maps. In either case, if you have done some of these assumptions you are in the right way to be a fruitless communitarian psychologist.

Sooner or later, be absolutely a scientist and act as an expert. Here you have another opportunity to put one truth on another, the scientific knowledge more valuated than popular knowledge so, act as if you had “the knowledge” since absolute trues. In that sense, act as a specialist. Ask community for social recognition, special treatment, mark distance between you and community, refuse ideas are not with you and think your knowledge is correct and everything outside is absolutely wrong. Never and under any circumstance establish a dialogue; monologues are enhanced. Remember, your ideas are right because you come from University and poor people never came to School. In that way is impossible to communicate with community so, the ideas about solutions of problems must to come out from you since a specialist. As a result, never permit collaboration. If you permit collaboration the outcomes will be propriety of collaborators and, immerse in this society of individualism and capitalism you have to highlight and be a subject of acknowledgement accumulating properties. In order to not share prizes or copyrights of knowledge be sure not share taking decisions and you resolve everything by yourself. As has been noted, we are approached to unrewarding praxis of communitarian Psychology more and more.

As soon as, be neutral. First, if you maintain yourself neutral you will contribute to relationships of oppression. Since Philosophy and Science has been developed in the central area, also has been developed to favor of Dominant social class and not to favor of women, Africans, Indians, indigenous, groups, communities, homosexuals, lesbians, transsexuals, poor people, and many others addressed in the boundary. I mean, if you just repeat what the powerful universities teach to the peripheries you will promote actions in service to certain powerful society groups and not for all (Dussell, 2011). Thus, be far away to politic, social, ideology and ethics. Many people believe that if you are neutral you don´t have any relation with ideology, politic or ethic, as a result, they ignore positivism is an ideology by itself (Freire, 2002), obey to a certain social model, struggle to ones and benefit to others, and is charged by some values and not others. Because politics are about whatever affects people as a society it´s possible to understand “the personal is political” (Kate Millet, 1969) and vice versa. Also, society is constituted by relationships established by individuals, so that is how we construct reality so, think in who is benefited about specific actions. On the other hand, ideology is not more than what we desire about the world, the country, the city, the community, the neighborhood in which we want to live in (Ander-Egg, 2002). In addition, values are those ways of being we consider as maxim perfection to a society in a certain moment (Montero, 2010) in that sense, we could ask ourselves ¿Which one is the place of the “other” in the knowledge production process? ¿Who is the subject who knows? ¿Who is the other? Follow the opposite way of these words and you will stay closer and closer to a failing practice of communitarian, political, ethical, generative, transformational, and liberation Psychology because in that way you will promote sexism, racism, individualism, homophobia, misogyny, and oppression of class.

In a moment, search in the “mind”. Following this further, with your actions search for transforming of, just, minds. Ensure those conservative Psychotherapists do, what your actions and reflections went no further than the walls of your consultancy. In this order of ideas, try to change the structural inside of minds and no more than that. The product of this would be blame people about the changes or not changes in his/her lives; so, if they do not change is because they do not want. The last idea is very useful since you can wash your hands about the not change cause you do not take any responsibility. Additionally, look for problems and solutions inside the head of people and never in Society. Be blind about what is happening in society and never relation the global actions to what take place in families, communities or individuals. Better than that, you could repeat as a “loudmouth”: you are the most important person in the world! If you want you can! Tomorrow will be the day could change your entire life! All you need is be motivated! Of course, this is just one part but not all especially when you sideline the weight people in relationships of power in the middle of a society.

     Equally important, do not matter discourses. Firstly, is inside of us where we have to look for answers, never see our discourses; in other words, we have to scan our internal and not our external in order to just Scientifics can understand it. This provokes lessen of power to the people and encourage knowledge-power to privileged academy. With this intention, think in the logic of language and never in the uses of language. In this way you can realize about the structure of sentences, mispronunciations, meanings behind words, sintaxis and others. Most importantly, you are going to forget how people use these words or sentences in order to construct power relationships. Given that, affirm yourself in the old fashioned idea that language represents reality, not build reality. As you have declared yourself as a modern communitarian psychologist (not postmodern), don't believe the act of talk as an action by itself neither as a reality constructer. Granted that, don't care about daily language; prefer the sophisticate language, scientifical, specialitical and formal. At this point you have found another form of discrimination in the sense of put in a place of more value one kind of language, and in a minor value another. Many professional enjoy speaking in such a way that nobody understand; even apply to the writing style, producing an abysmal gap between science and people. If you do not care language and its productions, also you do not care relationships but selves.

Without delay, search in the “Self”. First thing to remember, isolate subjects and study them as an atom. It implies to understand fragmented realities in which one problem does not is related with another. In other words, not study problems holistically. A tip I could provide is, put the responsibility of what is happening in a community to a person, personality, personal histories and never as a product of community or society. Another key point, don’t focus in relationships. Work with person as a unit, and not attend the social environment, the social relationships. In that way, if something is happening wrong you could declare blameworthy to that specific person not the product of social interactions such as poverty, injustice, struggleness, discrimination, privileges, rapaciousness, bad education, and others. This path contributes to legitimization of injustices happening in communities as an effect of only listen the hegemonic voice.

At this instant, listen at just one voice. Principally, don´t listen another voices. Since the power of talking, saying the world, saying the word we understand that silence is a kind of nullifition and oppression. Silent other points of view imply nullify them and everything not said is not existent in the world. That's what psychoanalysis says and what feminists say. That is why; if you listen one voice is sure you are going to fail as a communitarian psychologist. Indeed, just look one vision of reality. If you listen at one vision of reality you are going to lose the richness of other visions such as the indigenous people have, or the sexual dissidents have, just for mention some of them. Oriental traditions apport other ways to understand the world, the life and death, the health and illness, and so on. Also, life in countryside is too rich as much as life in big cities, each one apport knowledge to humanity. You decide if you want to keep just one vision and establish them as a privileged scope. Under any circumstances, look for another alternatives. There is a great metaphor: there are more stars than constellations in the sky. If you see only established constellations you are going to lose the opportunity to find, construct, or draw the infinite number of figures you could do connecting stars under your decisions. So, alternatives are subjugated discourses as well as the stars not connected and they are under the power of established discourses. Continuing, empowering those alternatives could help to less the power of hegemonic ideas and provide as better place to everyone. But as you wan to fail as a communitarian psychologist, please do not attend at these conceptions. Above all, just pay attention at the voice of Hegemonic Science. Never listen what other kind of knowledge have to tell, and less if it comes from other cultures distant of Western Knowledge. Follow established rules of formality, scientificism and good manners even if they could be boring, old fashioned, obsolete, double moralist, hypocrite, injustice and you know they benefit to a specific group of people and to the majority.

Henceforth, instead aboard solutions it would be better to search in problems. In the light of, talk once and once about the problem until you never could go out of them. Usually, when people are in a trouble they talk about it perennial until it becomes a hegemonic discourse that dominates other discourses, I mean other histories, and also it becomes so powerful. As a result, this strong discourse begins to be an oppressor over other ideas, or histories, in such a way that the struggled ones do not have any possibility to grow up. In the same order of ideas, saturate the discourse by problems. You can start looking for the roots of the complications, how has them developed along the time, who actors has been involved in it, when, where, and so on. All about the problem; also, talk with your conversational partners about the prognosis of the difficulty for arrives to the possibilities to impugn the problem until you never could go out of that saturated history around the problem. Must be remembered, if you found a positive possibility you could forget and ignore it. As we have said at this point, rest total importance a positive possibility you could find about the problem presented, because one of them could help communities to afford solution the talked problem. All exceptions to the problem must to be disregarded for the purpose of suppressing them. Exceptions to the problems are really dangerous because the could be a solution and, remember our intention is to fail as a Communitarian Psychologist; or what is the same, practicing changes that does not change. For this reason, look for structural problems. Look the structures and put the guilty over them, but never on the power relationships. As a result, you are going to avoid thinking in people using their knowledge-power in order to oppress others, so your discourse is going to run around how to fix the structures as well as fix people to their functionality in this established society. That is why you do not have to focus in relationships but in introspection, in insight.

Straightaway, focus in insight. Indeed, try to change minds of people. When you try to change minds also you are trying to change the internal of population, but not environment. As a fundamental of your assumption you believe something does not work inside the people or even though are those women and men do not work because in society everything is alright. With this in mind, do not see beyond of the subjects of that community, so individuals are the focus looked as fragmented reality, just as atoms and never as a totality. There is an interesting song called “El no lo mató” (He did not kill him) and in its lyrics says the history of a policeman who fire armed against a boy that recently stole from a grocery store. The boy was killed and the money, main of the shoot, was taken by the wind. The song says “The policeman did not kill him; It was Society and the environment in which the boy developed”. The anecdote could be right in the assumption of a social thinking but not in the focus you are interested: Failing as communitarian Psychologist. Under those circumstances, promote changes just between you and individuals and never further than that. Centre your reflections in the self, self-esteem, self- respect, self-valorization; also, in the unconsciousness, repressions, traumas of the past, torture individual with the things they do not know about their own self but you could access as a specialist psychologist. This could be the road to perpetuate oppression relationships as racism, classism, homophobia, misogyny, economic oppression, labor exploitation, postmodern Slavism, between many other not cited here. Afterwards, provoke insights better than actions. Following these conjectures, encourage introspections in people for relief their interior; this kind of work does not question the world just questions their internal. If something is wrong in their lives, the task is fixing the interior and not the surroundings, not society, not relationships. Have presented that actions could provoke changes and you do not want to change reality or the world, you just want to provide palliative cares.

To sum up, the insistence to fail as a Communitarian Psychologist let me suggest you to Be a fundamentalist, an essentialist, a scientist and an expert, follow the trying to be neutral, also search in mind, does not matter discourses, search in the self, listen just one voice, focus in problems, and focus in insight. Taking these suggestions you could plan changes that never Change.

* Text based on the article of Gergen & Warhus (2006).


Ander-Egg, E. (2002). Metodología y Práctica de la Animación Sociocultural. Madrid, CSC.
Dussell, E. (2011). Filosofía de la Liberación. México; Fondo de Cultura Económica.
Freire, P. (2002). Cartas a quien pretende enseñar. México; Siglo XXI
Gergen, K. & Warhus, L. (2006). La terapia como construcción Social. (Citado el 08 de Enero de 2014)Tomado de World Wide Web:

Millet, K. (1975). La política Sexual. Madrid: Aguilar.
Montero, M. (2010). Psicología Comunitaria. Seminario presentado en la Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona. Programa de Doctorado en Psicología Social.


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