Michael R. Jackson
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. I attended UCSB and UCLA as an undergraduate, quit college, volunteered to be drafted, and did a tour of duty 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, eventually entered the masters program at California State University at Los Angeles and later entered 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. During this period, I also had the opportunity to explore advanced statistical techniques and the fundamental concepts, assumptions, and limitations of standard psychological research. This work culminated in my book Self-Esteem and Meaning: A Life-Historical Investigation, an in-depth interview study of the experience of self-esteem and a critique of contemporary psychological methods. 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 grew disenchanted with the increasing subordination of mental health treatment to public and corporate 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 counseling, psychotherapy, psychological assessment and test construction, community psychology, and qualitative research methods. In addition, I had the opportunity to teach in, and to chair, the interdisciplinary Human Development and Social Relations (HDSR) program–a course of study that focused 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 successfully challenging the American Psychological Association (APA) regarding ethical compromises that had permitted psychologists to participate in torture.
Since 2016 I have been engaged in independent research and writing, and have continued to be involved in ethical and methodological issues through my involvement in Psychologists for Social Responsibility (PsySR) and the Critical Genetics Forum (CGF). In 2019 I became a regular contributor to the website Psychotherapy.net.
Acknowledgements and credits
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.
Nature, Volume 459, p. 1052, © 2009, Macmillan Publishers Limited.
Choice Reviews, Volume 40, pp. 505-506, © 2003, American Library 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.
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
Photo credit: Header photo autumn-environment-fall by Felix Mittermeier courtesy of Pexels.
Please feel free to let me know if you have any comments, questions, or suggestions.