Research Philosophy
My view of psychological research emphasizes scholarship as opposed to method. That means I am interested in a variety of scholarly research efforts, some of which fall under the category of traditionally empirical while other do not. My view is that psychology is best understood as a discipline at the nexus between the humanities and the sciences. It is a bridge discipline in many respects. Rather than attempting to confine psychology to the sciences, I believe that working both on empirical research as well as in the scholarly critical thinking manner associated with the humanities will produce the most conceptually rich understanding of human experience.

Quantitative Research
Personality and Perception
I work in collaboration with Harold Greene, Ph.D. from the Psychology Department here at UDM in the study of Personality and Cognition. Primarily we are working on studying participants’ information processing during Rorschach administration. The Rorschach is a widely used and researched projective test for the study of personality and psychological functioning. It can also be understand as a visual information processing task. The use of studying eye movements during visual information processing tasks has contributed a great deal to perception research in recent years.

A person taking the Rorschach actively scans the blots and attempts to discern what the configurations could resemble. Study of the participants’ fixation locations, durations and visual scanpaths during Rorschach administration can not only assist in better understanding the psychometric properties of the task, but also be used to address various theories concerning visual perception and information processing. We are collecting normative data concerning the frequency of fixations and fixation patterns for each of the cards. In addition we are studying a number of personality and cognitive characteristics of participants, including measures of visual-spatial organization, imaginative capacity, psychological absorption and perceptual flexibility.

Psychoanalytic Process Research
I work in collaboration with John Porcerelli, Ph.D. from the Wayne State University School of Medicine Family Medicine program. We are investigating patient characteristics of change during psychoanalytic work. Very little research to date has examined the influence of personality factors on psychotherapeutic process. Using the SWAP-200 developed by Westen & Shedler (see Westen, D., & Shedler, J. (2000). A prototype matching approach to personality disorders: Toward DSM-V. Journal of Personality Disorders, 14, 109-126) and the SCORS developed by Westen, we can study a range of personality factors in order to understand changes that take place during the course of psychoanalytic work. We will continue to explore numerous aspects of psychoanalytic process that can eventually assist therapists to provide themselves with further data concerning the therapeutic process of their patients.

Qualitative Research
My book Tantalizing Times: Excitements, Disconnects and Discontents in Contemporary American Society will be published in 2006 by Peter Lang Press. My book explores various psychological meanings to an ancient Greek myth, Tantalus, and uses this analysis as a lens through which to view contemporary America. Tantalus was a mythical earthly king who desired to possess even more than he had. He wanted to become immortal and to essentially possess god-powers. He was punished and suffered the fate of seeing objects of his desire that remained just beyond his reach. We, of course, get the word, tantalize, from this myth. I suggest that this is an apt myth for contemporary America in many respects. We are a society that is extremely invested in youth and remaining youthful. We swim in a marketplace that has practically everything that one could want. Although much of this appears available, we can’t have it all. More to the point, I propose that many aspects of our society from merchandise, entertainment and medical miracles to the booming economy, the self esteem movement and intellectual advancements subtly promise us that we can have it all and live like Greek gods. Coping with the inevitable disconnects between what we see and what we are can lead to anxieties that even perpetuate this very process.

Psychoanalysis and Philosophy
I have written about the place of psychoanalysis among the disciplines. Many scholars do not consider psychoanalysis to be a legitimate science. The implication is that it is nonsense or a waste of time. This is a curious way to treat pursuits of knowing other than science. In a paper entitled, Psychoanalysis. Science? Humanity? Do We Want a Place or a Palace? (accepted for publication in Psychoanalytic Review, volume 93, 2006), I explore this question. Psychoanalysis is a vital discipline because it forces us to think ever more carefully about what constitutes science and what constitutes the humanities & arts.

Professional Issues
I have written about a number of issues facing the profession of psychology, especially the drive for prescription privileges for psychologists, profession education in the form of government mandates and the Empirically Based Treatment movement.

Professional psychology has embarked on the acquisition of prescription privileges with the aim of becoming mental health providers who can offer it all. How will this affect psychology and the public? Although advocates of prescribing privileges intend for this initiative to be a postdoctoral option, I believe that it will have a significant impact on both graduate and undergraduate education in psychology and will become a detriment to what we traditionally consider psychology to be. I believe that this is an issue psychologist must inform themselves about, no matter what position one takes.

It is the responsibility of psychologists to engage in ongoing learning and self education. This is even written into the APA code of Ethics. Because a very small percentage of psychologists (and members of all other professions for that matter) do not live up to this, many states have implemented Mandatory Continuing Education (MCE) requirements. Although Michigan is one of the few states without such requirements, the state has been exploring the possibility of mandated Continuing Competency requirements which will likely take the place of MCE in many states. There has been little research on the effectiveness of such requirements and what has been done so far suggests that mandated CEs are not especially helpful in achieving their stated aims. There are important questions to consider when governments become too intimately involved in the regulation of mental health issues, beyond ensuring some basic standards for entry into the profession and practice and enabling citizens to file complaints or grievances that can be investigated in a fair and open manner.

Other interests
I have also studied the etymology of the word psychology in order to further our understanding of the place of psychology among the disciplines. Although we have generally understood psychology to involve the straightforward joining of psyche (soul/mind) + logos (word/study), recent archival research raises interesting questions about the origins of the word. The late Joseph Brozek wrote a few papers that proved the clearest outline of the origins of psychology (the word) from a 14th century Christian humanist named Marko Marulic. Brozek suggests that the original word, psichiologia, was more likely a Byzantine neologism that not only included psyche but also phusis (the root for physics, meaning character or nature). I also connect the development of psychology to the myth of Psyche and Eros. I suggest that psychology has come to be understood as involving many kinds of splits (between mind/body, between god/mortal; even Marulic was from Split, Croatia!). I suggest that various kinds of splits call for unions or reunions and address this in light of contemporary issues in professional psychology today, especially the ambition to obtain prescription privileges.

I also have begun to develop some research on the areas of dreams, daydreams and various forms of imaginative thinking. This is a project still in the works, i.e., still in the reading stages.