Angus Skinner, MAPP, works in his beloved and beautiful Scotland as an independent management consulting professional. He is also a visiting professor at the University of Strathclyde. He has over 40 years experience of social work services across the UK. As Chief Social Work Inspector for Scotland for 15 years, Angus provided advice directly to ministers on all matters of social work service legislation, policy, and practice development. Full bio. Articles on Positive Psychology News by Angus are here.
Rabbits are ancient symbols of fertility and so symbolize the return of spring. In thinking of them, of Easter, and of Sherri Fisher’s excellent article, Positive Psychology is more than happiness, I spoke with a friend who had just returned from working near the equator. “What did you miss most?” I asked. Quickly came the reply: “Seasons. I missed the seasons.”
Seasons give us rhythm though life. We mark the transitions as times for reflection, celebration, and above all engagement with family, friends, and meaning in our lives. And as times to look forward.
Positive psychology is described by many, though not Martin Seligman, as a paradigm shift. I wonder, though I don’t know, whether one reason Seligman doesn’t like the term is because it implies an under-valuation not only of the rest of psychology but also of all that has been achieved by psychology’s late 20th century focus on illness and distress – a focus that achieved much and must be carried forward.
It would be awful if the New Year, spring, and autumn were all “paradigm shifts.” Music, as in much, often expresses and engages us best in these matters. A symphony evolves, argues, disputes, and resolves with reflection.
New ideas need careful husbandry. Positive psychology is a “legitimate enterprise,” a very worthwhile turn. Increasingly rich (and accepted) in analysis, it may have remained perceived as weak in direct applications. Thus, the creation of MAPP (the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology degree), informing engineers of the future.
Superfetation (I know you have been dying to know) is the rabbit’s natural state. Rabbits are able to conceive new children even before others are born. We are repelled a bit by this. I would not wish to be a rabbit, not in the least since they have such pain in the early deaths of so many children. But ideas are not children.
Any idea is based on knowledge which is partial, flawed, and self-protective. But once we utter an idea, we protect it and seek its flourishing in the world. So should we, but not to the exclusion of other ideas.
For positive psychology to truly flourish in its contribution to the century ahead, we need not to fight for specific ideas, but to accept superfetation – to let a thousand flowers bloom. It is spring.
Daniel Barenboim, Reith Lectures
Kahneman, D., Diener, E., & Schwartz, N. (Eds) (1999). Well-Being: The Foundations of Hedonic Psychology. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.
Superfetation – dictionary.com