For as long as I can recall, I have had a keen interest in biography. In high school, I read all the biographies in the school library. Although I was registered in mathematics and virtually all my classmates chose university studies in engineering and science, the humanities remained a strong interest for me. An undergraduate degree in economics presented a compromise of sorts.
While studying economics, I maintained an interest in better understanding the mind. I read popular literature of the time, including The Myth of Mental Illness by Thomas Szasz, The Divided Self by R. D. Laing, and The Human Person by Magda Arnold and John Gasson. These books and other readings in philosophy, such as Paul Ricoeur’s Freud and Philosophy, Herbert Spiegelberg’s Phenomenology in Psychology and Psychiatry, and Joseph Donceel’s Philosophical Anthropology, had an enormous impact on me.
I was particularly interested in comparative economic systems, as its focus of study included the dynamics of social, economic, and historical relationships in diverse cultures and societal circumstances. In fact, systems theory was quite popular in the early 1970s and was adapted to the mental health field by many theorists in social work and, later, in psychology and psychiatry. Its essential presupposition is that individuals cannot be fully understood without understanding the context in which they live their day-to-day lives. It was probably no surprise that after achieving an undergraduate education in economics, I would decide to pursue studies in psychology.
Having never studied psychology, I applied to the University of Ottawa as they offered a qualifying year of studies in psychology for those wanting to pursue graduate studies in the field. Their psychology program was richly grounded in both the sciences and the humanities and provided intensive study in philosophical anthropology. The stated orientation of the graduate program in 1975 was “Christian Personalism in a Pluralistic Context.” It struck me as a bold statement in a society that was becoming rapidly more relativistic. However, the focus on personalism was compelling, insofar as personalists believe that the human person should be the ontological and epistemological starting point of philosophical reflection.
I entered the field of psychology at a time when existential and humanistic philosophy and psychology were very popular, as well as both Freudian and Neo-Freudian approaches to understanding psychopathology and treatment. Consequently, I became well-versed in humanistic and psychodynamic theory and practice. At the same time, a proliferation of studies using a learning theory model of human psychology suggested a more concrete or empirical approach to treatment, resulting in a treatment that might be more readily measured and more standardized in delivery.
There was also a rapidly growing interest in Albert Ellis and rational emotive therapy, Carl Rogers and person-centered therapy, and even Fritz Perls and gestalt therapy. These approaches represent a sharp contradistinction, not only to the Neo-Freudians (including Adler, Jung, and later, May, Kohut, Kernberg, Winnicott, and even more recently, Sullivan and Horney) but also, more significantly, to the emerging popularity of behaviorism (founded upon the philosophy of Logical Positivism). The latter was supported by Learning theory and its product, behaviour therapy, another rapidly expanding and increasingly popular therapeutic approach and the ancestor (so to speak) of the now predominant approach in psychotherapy, cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT).
These were very compelling times in psychology, with a great diversity of approaches to understanding and helping the human person. On one hand, positivists would complain of the idealism and questionable science of the psychodynamic and humanistic and existential approaches; on the other hand, idealists and realists would complain of the reductionistic materialism of the positivists, who might consequently “lose sight of the forest for the trees.” The advantage of being in the centre of these controversies was the opportunity to derive what was beneficial and realistic from all these points of view, which inclined many psychologists of the time, including myself, to adopt a so-called eclectic approach to treatment.
BComm, Honours Economics, Loyola of Montreal, 1970
Thesis: A History of the Canadian Banking System
MPs, Clinical Psychology, University of Ottawa, 1975
Thesis: Self-Actualization and Influence of Therapist Values
PhD, Clinical Psychology, University of Ottawa, 1983
Thesis: Methylphenidate vs Parent Training in the Treatment of Hyperactive
Children: A Two-Year Follow-Up Study
College of Psychologists of Ontario: Registration no. 1748
Canadian Register of Health Service Psychologists: Registration no. 00306
Member of the:
Firestone, Philip; Crowe, David, et al.. “Vicissitudes of Follow‐Up Studies: Differential Effects of Parent Training and Stimulant Medication with Hyperactives.” American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 1986, Vol. 56(2), pp.184-194
Della Zazzera, Claude and David Crowe. Two Essays on the Philosophy of Mental Health: Reflections on the Hermeneutics of Psychopathology and Psychotherapy, Ottawa, Miamine Press, 2015
University of Ottawa, Child Study Center (Internship)
Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario – Intern
Ottawa Civic Hospital – Intern
Queensway Carleton Hospital – Psychometrist