The Case for Pragmatic Psychology

The Case for Pragmatic Psychology

by Daniel Fishman

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ISBN-10: 0814726755

ISBN-13: 9780814726754

Pub. Date: 01/01/1999

Publisher: New York University Press

Web Site

The interested reader is urged to contact the author and join a Pragmatic Psychology Dialogue Group at the following web site:

"At long last, a tightly reasoned, thoroughly grounded treatise showing that complex social programs can be understood far more profoundly and usefully than past


Web Site

The interested reader is urged to contact the author and join a Pragmatic Psychology Dialogue Group at the following web site:

"At long last, a tightly reasoned, thoroughly grounded treatise showing that complex social programs can be understood far more profoundly and usefully than past mindsets have allowed."
Lisbeth B. Schorr, author of Common Purpose: Strengthening Families and Neighborhoods to Rebuild America

"Fishman creates a new paradigm for advancing clinical science. Every mental health professional aspiring to be accountable and a scientist practitioner in their work should be aware of the ideas in this readable and entertaining book."
David H. Barlow, editor of Clinical Handbook of Psychological Disorders

"Daniel Fishman cuts through rhetoric with clear writing and a razor-sharp wit. The chapter on education is like the welcome beam of a lighthouse in a fog."
Maurice J. Elias, coauthor of Social Problem Solving: Interventions in the Schools

"Fishman makes the case for a pragmatic psychology in unusually lucid and forceful prose. This book should be read not only by professional psychologists but by anyone interested in the future of mind-related science."
John Horgan, author of The End of Science: Facing the Limits of Knowledge in the Twilight of the Scientific Age

"Fishman's liberating insights will free his readers to set aside the intellectual quandaries that plague philosophers and psychologists at the end of the 20th century, and turn back with confidence to the practice of their work."
Stephen Toulmin, author of Cosmopolis: The Hidden Agenda of Modernity

"As we try to steer a course through the public policy debates of the 21st century, Fishman's pragmatic psychology for enhancing human services provides a far-reaching new resource for meeting this challenge."
Pat Schroeder, President and CEO, Association of American Publishers. Former Congresswoman from Colorado.

About the Book

A cursory survey of the field of psychology reveals raging debate among psychologists about the methods, goals, and significance of the discipline, psychology's own version of the science wars. The turn-of-the-century unification of the discipline has given way to a proliferation of competing approaches, a postmodern carnival of theories and methods that calls into question the positivist psychological tradition.

Bridging the gap between the traditional and the novel, Daniel B. Fishman proposes an invigorated, hybrid model for the practice of psychology–a radical, pragmatic reinvention of psychology based on databases of rigorous, solution-focused case studies. In The Case for Pragmatic Psychology, Fishman demonstrates how pragmatism returns psychology to a focus on contextualized knowledge about particular individuals, groups, organizations, and communities in specific situations, sensitive to the complexities and ambiguities of the real world. Fishman fleshes out his theory by applying pragmatic psychology to two contemporary psychosocial dilemmas —the controversies surrounding the "psychotherapy crisis" generated by the growth of managed care, and the heated culture wars over educational reform.

Moving with ease from the theoretical to the nuts and bolts of actual psychological intervention programs, Fishman proffers a strong argument for a new kind of psychology with far-reaching implications for enhancing human services and restructuring public policy.

Product Details

New York University Press
Publication date:
Edition description:
New Edition
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.00(d)

Table of Contents

List of Figures and Tablesxiii
Introduction: A Better Way to Help by Reinventing Psychology1
Turning Mainstream Psychology Upside Down1
The Emergence of the Pragmatic Paradigm from Postmodernism5
Supporting the Beleaguered Practitioner9
Two Faces of Psychology: "Nature" versus "Culture"21
A Reader's Guide24
11600 to the Early 1960s: Psychology and Positivism--A Marriage Made in Enlightenment Heaven31
Origins: 1600 to 187932
Pendulum Swings in History36
Psychology Comes of Age: 1879 to the Early 1960s38
2The 1960s and Beyond: The Postmodern Invasion44
Psychologists Proliferate45
Psychological Topics Proliferate46
Psychological Methods Proliferate57
3"Postpositivism": Revolution within the Family75
Targeted Hits75
Expanding the Critique80
The End of Science?88
4The Dialectic: Putting It All Together93
The Players94
Not So Fast97
Boiling It Down to Three Paradigms98
5Transcending the Dialectic: The Emergence of Postmodern Pragmatism102
The Family Tree103
Pragmatists Weigh In109
A Balinese Cockfight and Schizophrenia124
On to the Case Study Method130
6The Pragmatic Case Study: Psychology's Tool for Enhancing Human Services135
Addressing Psychosocial Problems135
Measuring the Bottom Line: Program Evaluation137
Collaborating with Clients: Community Psychology146
"What Works and Why We Have So Little of It"149
7Nuts and Bolts: The Pragmatic Case Study Method153
Let the Games Begin154
Quality Control180
Linking Frameworks188
From Single Case to Database190
8Psychology and Psychotherapy: From "House of Cards" to "House of Cases"199
An End to Our "Era of Good Feeling"200
The Battle204
A Pragmatic Proposal217
A Case in Point237
9Educational Reform: From "Culture Wars" and "Silver Bullets" to the Real Classroom245
The Factory Model246
The Combatants Square Off249
Many Promising Reform Ideas255
Ideas Are Cheap, Successful Cases Are Not261
10Manifesto for a Pragmatic Psychology283
Prologue: A Call for Pluralism283
Pragmatists Unite! An Action Plan for Making Case-based Psychology a Reality285
Vision: Staying in Touch with Our Roots289
The Challenge Ahead292
About the Author387

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