Elena Mustakova, A Psychology That Responds to Our Times: Transforming Inner Oppression into Awakened, Aligned, and Liberated Spirit

Sunday, December 3, 2017, 2 p.m. Eastern (11 a.m. Pacific, 8 p.m. Western European time)

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We are experiencing a rapidly deepening and pervasive world-wide disintegration of the socio-moral fabric of life, expressed in a global crisis of mental health. In 2000, the World Health Organization recognized a Social Breakdown Syndrome, and since then, it has been struggling to develop new and more effective systemic ways to address the global crisis in mental health. Despite these efforts, and despite the massive global push toward more democratic and transparent governance, even reasonably functioning people struggle with a deeply hidden sense of inner oppression. We are gradually realizing that psychological suffering in a turbulent and globalizing era can no longer be understood solely in traditional psychiatric terms, as failures of psycho-social adjustment.

This talk brings a Baha’i perspective to examining the inner dynamic of oppression and the root socio-historical characteristics of a wide range of psychological conditions in the age of anxiety. It will explore the challenge to develop psychological education and clinical training that address proactively the complex needs of a highly diverse and conflict-ridden global society. It will offer an emergent vision of global community psychology in an explicit normative context. We will discuss processes of the systemic cultivation of cultures of social health, which foster in people spiritual awakening and progressively more empowered alignment with planetary transformation. We will draw from a synthesis of these issues, developed in a recent Baha’i-inspired volume, Toward a Socially Responsible Psychology for a Global Era.

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Dr. Elena Mustakova is an educator, social scientist, and former professor in adult developmental psychology, as well as a counselor and psychotherapist in private practice in the metro DC area. Her work for the past 30 years, on the lifespan development of critical moral consciousness, and the role of cultural contexts in shaping human consciousness, received the 1998 Outstanding Dissertation Award of the Association for Moral Education. Her book on the topic was published in the U.S. in 2003, and in Bulgaria in 2004, where Elena has been serving the Bulgarian Baha’i community since 1995. In 2003, she received the Carter Campus Community Partnership Award for founding the Latino Initiative of University of West Georgia, aimed at applying the insights of critical and community psychology to assist the new Latino immigrant population in a rural county in its empowerment and integration into the larger community. In recent years, her focus has shifted to the need for a new discourse on social health, one that articulates the nature and dynamics of creating cultures of social health, and draws both on knowledge in the social sciences, and on the practical experience of spiritual and social justice communities around the world (See http://bahaiteachings.org/creating-a-culture-of-social-health ) Her second comprehensive volume, Springer International Psychology series 2014 volume, of which she was senior editor and chief contributor, Toward a Socially Responsible Psychology for a Global Era (http://www.globalsocialhealth.org/systemic-analysis/publications/), has been called by  PsycCritiques “an important book with a crucial message”, because it sets out to achieve an “extraordinarily important mission: using Western psychology to create a more sustainable future.” She has lectured extensively, both in the U.S. and internationally, has served on a range of panels and international forums, and her work has received high academic awards.

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