"It's the Psychology, Stupid!"

02/01/2009 02:02 pm 14:02:22 | Updated Nov 17, 2011

"Never underestimate the power of psychology in the economy" cautions John Steele Gordon, a business historian. Robert Reich, the former US Secretary of Labor, said something to the same effect recently (on 1/23/09) in a lecture to the Commonwealth Club. Talk to any shrewd used car salesperson or an Amway trainer and you'll hear pretty much the same idea: "it's all about psychology."

It takes psychology to make money and it takes psychology to help people deal with the loss thereof.

Yes, it used to be "the economy, stupid!" But now: "it's the psychology, stupid!"

Thus my Sunday morning sentiment: we need a Psychologist General. I can't tell you how many times I found this professionally self-centered idea in my mouth. Any time I hear the quotation of FDR's "nothing to fear but fear itself" I think to myself: "wow, here's a great President offering the advice of meta-cognitive anxiety management to a panicked nation."

So as I read (New York Times, Feb. 1, 09) that FDR "was a genius at using those fireside chats to calm the national mood and restore confidence" (J. S. Gordon), I keep wondering if perhaps Dr. Sanjay Gupta should also get a Ph.D. in Counseling or Clinical Psych... Or better yet: if President Obama should perhaps consider getting a Shrink General.

And by the way I recommend Martin Seligman, Ph.D., a world renowned authority on positive psychology and learned optimism, a former president of American Psychological Association (elected for the 1998 term by the widest majority of APA members in the organization's history).

So there I said it.

Go Steelers!

Pavel Somov, Ph.D. lives in Pittsburgh and is the author of Eating the Moment: 141 Mindful Practices to Overcome Overeating One Meal at a Time.