Elian and the cloak of science

PSYCHOLOGISTS HAVE FIGURED prominently in the dramatic Elian Gonzalez case. On the one hand, psychologists who have worked directly with Elian over the course of several months have proposed specific, clearly formulated recommendations. On the other hand, a few psychologists have issued formal recommendations to the media, the federal government, etc., without ever having interviewed, evaluated or treated Elian. Their statements have included serious allegations such as child abuse and kidnapping. These latter psychologists failed to take into account the cultural context of the Elian saga and they did not respect the limited but significant rights of Elian.

Obviously, all of us are free to express our views, including voicing agreement or differences with the psychologists who personally interacted with Elian. However, to put forth formal psychological recommendations about any person without following the empirically based process of directly examining that person is inappropriate and places these psychologists in the realm of political commentators. They are disguising value judgments under the cloak of science.


Hollywood, Fla.

Where's the life?

I WANT TO REPORT BRIEFLY ON my experience with the Internet and my experience with the Monitor issue on psychology and the Internet. I find the Internet fascinating, world-opening, fresh as cool fall air, as interesting a new world as I found when I first went scuba-diving. Conversely, on one reading, I found the APA Monitor issue rather boring, uninspiring, and flat. Some articles were better than others and every now and then, I found a little tidbit to underline. What was wrong? First, I found a lot of the research cited as trivial as I find much of social and psychological quantitative research. One researches what is most amenable to numbers rather than what may be most interesting or relevant. But second...I realized there was virtually (no pun intended) no report on the experience of the Internet--what it is like to write and respond to a personal ad from Singapore; how it feels to wander through the porn sites; the sense of adventure when one clicks on "Search" and looks for musty documents that may or may not exist.

I know this letter is raw and does not do justice to all the articles in the issue; my apologies for offense that I do not mean to be giving. But surely interesting vignettes, personal experiences, what life is like with the Internet in one's world would grab the reader's attention. In the name of proving psychology is indeed a science, let us not simply prove that it can be dull.


Arlington, Mass.

WE WERE DISAPPOINTED THAT the April Monitor failed to mention John M. Roraback, PhD, in its discussion of the Internet. Dr. Roraback was a visionary and a pioneer in the Internet psychology field. He created the PsyUSA Network, the largest and most comprehensive online network of information and support for doctoral level clinical and counseling psychologists and academic and research psychologist colleagues interested in strengthening and preserving psychology as a health-care profession.

Psychologists select from different channels the information they want to receive, whether it's basic information affecting psychology today, technical computer information, a history of psychology channel, a searchable database, legislative and other information pertinent to the practice of psychology nationally or in a particular state, expressing serious opinions on a particular subject, or a collegial chat.

For more information about Dr. Roraback's contribution, see http://users.aol.com/drhord/usa.htm.

In addition, your description of ShrinksOnline in the issue implied that there has never before been a place online where psychologists can gather to "vent their frustrations and seek help." In fact, PsyCHAT, one of the PsyUSA Network listservs, has served in that capacity since 1996 and the entire PsyUSA Network has been "a free meeting place for therapists to share ideas" for over six years.



Further Reading

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