I’m Stanley Siegel, a psychotherapist in New York City, where I’ve practiced for nearly forty years. I’ve published many books over the course of my long career. I’ve appeared on Good Morning America several times, and the Oprah Winfrey show, as well as many others, and I was the psychology columnist for Newsday. I was, until last year, a popular columnist for Psychology Today Magazine.
This project, Psychology Tomorrow Magazine, is in part a response to an episode that happened with me and my column for Psychology Today. I wrote an article as I usually do, in a weekly column on the subject of sex, called “Sex Worker or Therapist?”, that set off a firestorm of controversy. It was a column exploring the creativity of sexuality. It made analogies between those sex workers who feel that their work involves an extraordinarily
This created a scandal on the part of the editors of Psychology Today. As a result of that, with little conversation – no conversation actually – I was dismissed overnight from a column that I had done for quite a number of months. And the result of that was an outcry from the more than 400,000 readers who followed my column demanding that Psychology Today reinstitute the column and take responsibility for their prejudices and conservatism in relation to what happened. Of course, that didn’t happen.
Among the many emails to Psychology Today and comments on my website about this, one of the more interesting suggestions was: “Instead, start your own column.” The writer even suggested the title: Psychology Tomorrow.
Needless to say, the idea completely inspired me. I wanted to create a magazine that speaks to what I consider the art of psychology. Understood as an art, psychology allows us to really appreciate human behavior as a creative element in everyone’s life and stop pathologizing behavior or defining people with diagnostic categories.
For nearly four decades, I have sat and listened to people who present their stories. I still marvel at the uniqueness of their problems and how well these problems also function as solutions. The more I explore a situation to find out what is right rather than what is wrong about it, the more creativity I discover and the deeper is my conviction that the human mind has an inborn-genius for navigating life’s challenges.
As I continue to teach and lecture among my colleagues, I have become increasingly aware that most psychotherapists train and practice within a paradigm that sees patients’ problems as rooted in pathology. These therapists wait and watch for a symptom to see how it might fit into a a category of identified disorders. That neatly solves the problem for the therapists, but not for the patients.
While an understanding of the science of psychology is the accepted basis for treating patients, a wider appreciation of psychology as art informs my practice. A therapist’s job may be less to cure a problem than to identify, respect and even revere how it solves or rectifies life’s dilemmas.
Much of the satisfaction from my work is the inspiration I derive from seeing over and over again how imaginatively and often unwittingly we address each other’s fears, loyalties and love. Therapy, then, is about decoding and honoring the creativity of the mind rather than the codification of behavior into diagnostic categories. Only then can it achieve reverence for the power of the human spirit.
Psychology Tomorrow Magazine is not like any magazine available today. It is a reflection of new ideas in the field of psychology. Meanwhile, it focuses less on clinical and academic issues, although they’re certainly present, and more on creativity. It explores the practice of psychology as an art in all its complex possibilities. Against the current trend in psychology towards pathologizing human behavior through medical and scientific explanations, the magazine emphasizes the creativity of the therapeutic process for both patients and therapists.
Psychology Tomorrow Magazine focuses a good deal on sex. Unlike psychology magazines of the past, this magazine has a sex-positive approach. It explores the idea of sexuality as creative expression. It deals with the issues many other magazines are afraid to examine regarding sex, from fetishes to ideas about domination and submission. The magazine moves beyond conventional ideas about sexuality and the way we parcel things into “gay, straight, bisexual,” broadening the perspective on peoples’ individual expression of their sexuality versus how we categorize them. We examine the specific kinds of sexual fantasies and behavior people create in their lives, all with a positive spin.
Many of my readers had suggested a new magazine, one that was relevant to their particular needs and ideas, and it’s about time that someone took them up on that idea – it’s going to be me! Psychology Today said that I was attracting large numbers of the wrong type of reader. Well, the wrong type of reader for them is the right type of reader for me!