Michael R. Jackson

michael in study (cropped) I am a clinical psychologist with 29 years of experience working with children, adolescents, and adults, and 16 years of experience teaching and writing in an academic setting.  I was born in Los Angeles, and grew up in Southern California during the conventional 1950s and the turbulent 1960s.  I attended UCSB and UCLA as an undergraduate, and, partly as a result of my own turbulence, I quit college, was inducted into military service, and spent a year in Vietnam.  I returned to the U.S. with a new appreciation of the problems of unrestrained nationalism and a wish to help others.

Part of my experience during these years was a period in psychotherapy, which inspired me, among other things, to pursue a career in the mental health field.  After obtaining my bachelor’s degree, I worked for four years in a variety of inpatient and outpatient mental health settings, and eventually entered the masters program at California State University at Los Angeles, and later the doctoral program at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.  While I was at Michigan I met a group of people who, along with a few others in the United States, were introducing the field of psychology to what is now called qualitative research:  the use of unstructured techniques such as in-depth interviewing and participant observation to study human life as it is actually lived in real social settings.  My doctoral dissertation, an in-depth interview study of the experience of self-esteem and a critique of the assumptions of laboratory psychology, was later published as a book with the title Self-Esteem and Meaning: A Life-Historical Investigation.  Over the next three decades I worked in the field of clinical psychology and published several articles on qualitative research, semiotics, and psychological methodology.

After a number of years as a clinician, I found myself disenchanted with the increasing subordination of mental health treatment to public and private bureaucracies, and I began looking for career alternatives, particularly in teaching. In 2000, my wife Deborah Davis Jackson and I had the good fortune to be jointly offered teaching positions in anthropology and clinical psychology, respectively, at Earlham College.

At Earlham College, I was able to introduce a number of talented students to the fields of psychological diagnosis, psychotherapy, community psychology, and qualitative research methods. In addition, I had the opportunity to teach in the interdisciplinary Human Development and Social Relations (HDSR) program–a course of study that focuses on the social and psychological dynamics that underlie a variety of social issues.  In 2007, under my leadership, the psychology departments of Earlham College and nine other academic institutions played a significant role in challenging the American Psychological Association (APA) for ethical compromises regarding psychologists participating in torture.

Since 2016 I have been engaged in independent research and writing, and have continued being active in ethics issues through my longstanding involvement in Psychologists for Social Responsibility (PsySR).  In 2019 I became a regular contributor to the website Psychotherapy.net.

Acknowledgements and credits

Portions of this website constitute the preprint of an article whose final and definitive form appeared on pp. 69-76 of Volume 24 No. 1 of The Peace Review © 2011 Taylor & Francis; The Peace Review is available online at: http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/title~db=all~content=t713441298

Other parts of this website draw from materials by me originally published in the following sources:

Psychotherapy.net, https://www.psychotherapy.net/, © 2019.

American Psychologist, Volume 72, No. 4, pp. 395-396, © 2017, American Psychological Association.

Qualitative Psychology, Volume 2, No. 2, pp. 181-198, © 2015, American Psychological Association.

Qualitative Psychology, Volume 2, No. 2, pp. 221-225, © 2015, American Psychological Association.

Semiotica, Volume 98, No. 1/2, pp. 5-48, © 1994 Walter de Gruyter.

Semiotica, Volume 85, No. 1/2, pp. 41-72, © 1991 Walter de Gruyter.

Self-Esteem and Meaning: A Life-Historical Investigation, © 1984, SUNY Press.

Photo credit:  Header photo autumn-environment-fall by Felix Mittermeier courtesy of Pexels.

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