Psychologists Involved in International Policy

Essay

The domain of psychology has witnessed a resurgence of concern and interest in political psychology in the previous fifteen years, leading to the institution of international psychology with primary adherence to politics. (Stevens and Gielen 2007). This discipline of psychology is comparatively new, but is of escalating importance. The momentums of globally political and social developments in the global scenario have resulted in the progress of psychology as a discipline and vocation devoid of boundaries. (U.S. Census Bureau 2003) Psychology today is all set to don the new international and global role of a science which concerns selflessness, discussion, and amalgamation of knowledge across countries and cultures. (Prinsloo, 1989)

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The fact that psychology today is becoming a global phenomenon can be confirmed by the continuing efforts to devise a common set of moral code for psychologists, along with the building of bonds with policy-makers for the enhancement of the quality of life in maximum possible parts of the world. (Retrieved from website http://www.psychology.ilstu.edu/mjsteven/Research/TGP.html)

The vital themes impacting the necessity of a worldwide collaboration is the escalating concern about threats to physical and mental health and the deteriorating status of vulnerable populations of women and children in the international scenario. (Applied Psychology: An International Journal- IAAP) Psychology is a very broad based field and deals with a variety of issues relating to both women and children thus impacting the lives of a multitude of them globally. Conventionally psychology is a science dealing with a range of issues where women and children have suffered mentally due to the physical abuse. As such, the range of psychology does not involve only the mental but also the physical which has a direct impact on the mental state of a victim or patient.

The range of problems that women and children all over the world face is very vast. Depression is more likely to affect women as compared to men, as a result of the continuous ups and downs in the life of women.

Depression in women can stem from a huge range of factors including the menstrual cycle, the period of pregnancy, the period of post pregnancy and menopause to outline a few. Since it has been confirmed by researchers that hormones affect the working conditions of the brain, it certainly makes sense to consult a psychologist to curtail or reduce these negative impacts of hormones on the life of women and even young girls who have yet not crossed the threshold of childhood convincingly. (Article on Delegation to Vietnam and Cambodia by Norine Johnson, PhD Retrieved from website http://www.apa.org/international/pi)

Psychologists have the capacity to not only provide information about depression, to women but are additionally able to diagnose the roots of the problem and provide the necessary treatment. In the absence of such treatment or interference of a psychologist, the problem may tend to graduate from being common and periodic one to a permanent and serious one. The effects of clinical depression on women will be noticeable as chronic fatigue, changes in the sleep pattern and appetite disorders. These in turn affect the temperament bringing along sorrow and despair, consequently negatively affecting the capabilities of making the right decisions and lack of concentration. Withdrawal symptoms are soon visible and social life is greatly affected owing to the radical changes in behavior, visible as irritability, anger and continued depression.

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It is a well-known fact that millions of women all over the world are prone to depression and a majority of them do not get the required help due to a considerable stigma associated with mental illness. (Retrieved from website of psychology information online website address: http://www.psychologyinfo.com/depression/)

It is possible to reduce the symptoms in most cases but because depression is seldom recognized, the suffering of women and children all over the world continues endlessly. Since women face double the risk of experiencing depression over men, it becomes imperative to take up this cause from a global and international perspective in the framing of policies, in enabling the women all over the world to be able to access psychological help to alleviate the problems they regularly face and to enlighten them about the ill effects of depression so that the problem is solved at the preliminary level with the help of correct diagnoses and appropriate treatment.

Women who are patients of domestic violence and subsequent mental health (Multi-country Study on Women’s Health and Domestic Violence Against Women: Initial Results on Prevalence, Health Outcomes and Women’s Responses, WHO, November 2005), most often do not receive support from their families. It would therefore help in framing an international policy which trains general practitioners to deal with psychiatric problems of women, since most women from a global perception do not have access to proper treatments of their mental disorders.

Women and children who have been victims of molestation show an increased tendency to develop depression at some point of time in their lives rather than those without such history. Instances of rape and sexual abuse among children and women fosters low self esteem, self blame, a sense of isolation and consequential helplessness resulting in the deterioration of the mental state of mind. (Retrieved from website http://www.apa.org/international/pi)

Such women and children need special psychiatric help in order to rid them of the sense of guilt and lack of confidence. Since these victims need special psychiatric help it certainly makes sense to involve psychiatrists in the formulation of international policies for the prevention, control and the curative procedures necessary for such patients.

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Poverty among women and children in most parts of the world is one of the major causes of depression. (http://www.apa.org/international/pi) For most countries of the world the problem of poverty and its eradication is a chief concern. Poverty not only denies people especially children, their basic right to food, clothing and shelter but also fosters among them severe feelings of disharmony and hatred towards the world, thereby causing a development towards an affiliation for crimes and unwarranted way of living.

Since the field of psychology basically deals with the problems of the mind, it is absolutely vital that in framing policies at an international level for desolate children, the role of psychologists is substantiated. Not only will they be in a better position to comprehend the existing situation but also prove to be extremely helpful in devising solutions by means of policy framing, in order to reduce the injustice meted out to them in this world. The same would apply to the psychology framing for the orphan children in the existing international scenario. Devoid of a family life and consequent love from parents these children are devoid of the basic necessities to lead a reasonable life in this world.

They are exposed to some of the most brutal situations in life at a very young age. The field of psychology and the role of psychologists have and will continuously play a significant role to enable these children to get the basic amenities in life. (Marten (James), ed., Children and War, New York University Press, 2002)

Even in families where children are looked after, the role of psychology cannot be undermined. The problem of poor communication or rigid discipline for children can tend to cause serious consequences. However, while psychologist help may prove effective in some cases, there is no possibility of formulating a policy to help such children or even women dealing with such children for that matter. Matters generally tend to worsen when children reach the adolescent age and the generation gap between parents and children produces a greater rift in their communication. Sometimes the problem of sibling rivalry takes unprecedented turns causing great disharmony between the family members.

The situation can be further aggravated if one child or sibling is depressed and at the same time marital conflict poses a threat to the psychic development of the child. In such cases it becomes absolutely necessary to approach a psychologist for help. The treatment of such problems will require several sessions with all the family members either solitary or collectively, in order to evaluate successfully the roots of the problems and the resultant solutions to them. (Website of psychology information on line http://www.psychologyinfo.com/)

In severe cases of child misbehavior, children may be involved in deceitfulness with instances of shoplifting of minor objects or taking objects from a friend without permission. In more severe cases the child or adolescent may be involved in breaking into homes, cars or stores. In such cases psychologists play a dominant role in trying to get to the origin of the problem as most children with such problems are referred to them by the juvenile justice systems which is generally a clause of probation, when a child commits a grave crime.

Since the discipline of psychology plays a crucial role in dealing with children displaying these unusual traits, it definitely is crucial that psychologists are dynamically occupied in international policy framing related to children and crimes committed by them, as they tend possess a decent if not complete knowledge of the psyche of these children. When framing the policy the psychologists will considerably bear in their minds the mental framework of these children and the repercussions that a strict policy will bear on their lives. It is essential for psychologists when framing these policies and dealing with such cases to keep in mind that these are delicate issues and need to be handled rather deftly and compassionately. (http://www.psychologyinfo.com/)

Sexual harassment continues to pose serious problems and risk not only the physical but also the mental health of women and children all over the world. These victims in most cases are regularly abused within homes mostly by male relatives. The role of psychology in dealing with such problems cannot be undermined. Psychology centers that provide full range of services ranging from counseling to therapies and medical assistance and in some cases demanding the intervention of law to stop these atrocities to women and children are absolutely necessary. Thus appropriate international policy framing demands the active role of psychologists to frame policies not only to help these victims but also to punish the guilty who are involved in such heinous crimes.

Victims of sex trafficking and sexual abuse as also those of domestic violence necessitate the need of professional help in solving their problems. (The Effects of Armed Conflicts on Girls: A Discussion Paper for the UN Study on the Impact of Armed Conflict on Children, Staff working paper No. 23, World Vision International, July 1996) In dealing with such fragile cases the need for people with skills in counseling and psychology becomes a pre-requisite.

The law should consult psychologists when framing of policies for the betterment of these abused victims. Policies for such victims should include humanitarian aid, education and trauma training workshops along with consultation services. (Stevens, M. J., & Gielen, U. P. (Eds.). (2007). Toward a global psychology: Theory, research, intervention, and pedagogy. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.)

Another problem of equally serious nature has been the prevalence of increasing violence against girls, women and children during armed conflicts and crisis. (Of some 560 articles contained in the four Geneva Conventions and their two Additional Protocols, 25 refer specifically to children and 42 specifically to women). A majority of girls experience the trauma of seeing their family members being raped or killed before their very eyes. (Women Facing War: ICRC Study on the Impact of Armed Conflict on Women, ICRC, October 2001).

Some children lose either one or both their parents and are left solitary in this world without any surviving family members. The psychosomatic scars which these children bear, on witnessing such heinous attacks have lasting effects.

Although the primary goal of international policies concerning these issues should be the providence of protection and assistance to these victims who may be wounded, sick or liberty deprived victims, a comprehensive humanitarian approach is absolutely essential in dealing with such cases. (David, H. P., & Buchanan, J. (2003). International psychology. In D. K. Freedheim (Ed.), Handbook of psychology: History of psychology (Vol. 1, pp. 509-533). New York: Wiley.)

The launch of an in depth psycho-analytical study in order to get a deep understanding of the needs of such victims should be the primary goal of the policy framers. This however will be possible only with the help and expert vision of psychologists. The highlights of such a policy should be the physical safety which brings mental integrity, health care and hygiene. Psychologists should press for their special protection, particularly orphans separated from their families and young adolescent girls who are at the highest risk of assault, torture and violence.

Under a similar law pregnant women should also be given a special status. Similar provisions must be made for refugee women and children displaced during the course of war from their families. (Women facing War: ICRC Study on the Impact of Armed Conflict on Women, International Committee of the Red Cross, Geneva, 2001)

Professional psychologist assistance must be provided at all times to these victims of war as communication of problems very often helps in reducing them to a great extent and helps in the alleviation of mental pressure of victims.

Along with the multitude of other problems, war also brings with it the rise in the HIV or aids possibilities in women and children. The stigma attached to this disease needs no elucidation. Psychology plays a very crucial part for patients who have contracted this disease and the worse affected are children who are born with it. (Forgotten Casualties of War: Girls in Armed Conflict, Save the Children, 2005 The Impact of Conflict on Women and Girls in West and Central Africa and the UNICEF response, UNICEF, 2005)

The need for a policy regarding the protection and assistance to the victims of this disease is an all important one. Psychologists should push for such a policy at the international level, they being the ones who have supreme knowledge of the dilemma that these patients face all their lives. Public awareness programs must be held at regular intervals in order to enlighten the global population about the facts of this dishonorable disease. Psychology centers will prove greatly beneficial in educating the patients of their ability to lead a normal, disciplined and healthy life in spite of contracting the disease. Self confidence and self esteem need to be restored by way of counseling in order that the affected populace gets back to a regular lifestyle devoid-of the disgrace attached to it.

Discrimination against women and particularly girl children should be exposed as one of the most heinous crimes in the world. (Bouta (Tsjeard), Grerks (Georg), Bannon (Ian), Gender, Conflict and Development, The World Bank, Washington DC, 2005)

Since the long lasting effects of gender bias are well known through out the world, it is high time that the policy framers couple with psychologists to frame substantial policies in order to wipe out the problem of racial prejudice which has serious psychological consequences. Effective policies must be framed in order to avail women and girls access to food, shelter, water education, social and heath services at all times. The framing of policies must define clearly the urgent need to protect the physical and psychological integrity of women and children in all circumstances. This can be effectively achieved by raising knowledge of these all important issues by including them in to the framework of all policies at the global level.

References

Adair, J. G., & Kağitçibaşi, Ç. (1995). National development of psychology: Factors facilitating and impeding progress in developing countries [Special issue]. International Journal of Psychology, 30(6).

Brock, A. (in press). Internationalizing the history of psychology. New York: New York University Press.

David, H. P., & Buchanan, J. (2003). International psychology. In D. K. Freedheim (Ed.), Handbook of psychology: History of psychology (Vol. 1, pp. 509-533). New York: Wiley.

Hutz, C. S., McCarthy, S., & Gomes, W. (2004). Psychology in Brazil: The road behind and the road ahead. In M. J. Stevens & D. Wedding (Eds.), Handbook of international psychology (pp. 151-168). New York: Brunner-Routledge.

Klappenbach, H. (2004). Psychology in Argentina. In M. J. Stevens & D. Wedding (Eds.), Handbook of international psychology (pp. 129-150). New York: Brunner-Routledge.

Prinsloo, R. 1989. Workshop on challenges to “appropriate” social services from community psychology. In G Eagle, G Hayes & A Bhana (eds).

Schultz, D. P., & Schultz, S. E. (2004). A history of modern psychology (8th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning.

Stevens, M. J., & Gielen, U. P. (Eds.). (2007). Toward a global psychology: Theory, research, intervention, and pedagogy. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Tikkanen, T. (2005). The present status and future prospects of the profession of psychologists in Europe. Paper presented to the European Congress of Psychology, Grenada, Spain. Web.

Impact of war on women

Women facing War: ICRC Study on the Impact of Armed Conflict on Women, International Committee of the Red Cross, Geneva, 2001.

Bouta (Tsjeard), Grerks (Georg), Bannon (Ian), Gender, Conflict and Development, The World Bank, Washington DC, 2005.

Mazurana (Dyan), Women in Armed Opposition Groups Speak on War, Protection and Obligations under International Humanitarian and Human Rights Law. Report of a workshop organized in Geneva by Geneva Call and the Program for the Study of International Organizations, 2004.

Impact of war on children

Boyden (Jo), Berry (Joanna, de), eds, “Children and youth on the front line: Ethnography, armed conflict and displacement,” Studies in Forced Migration, Vol. 14, 2004.

Marten (James), ed., Children and War, New York University Press, 2002.

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