Liberation Psychology: 25 years on. What does music have to do with it?

Ignacio Martín Baró and Woody Guthrie with guitarsHere is the first contribution to mark the twenty fifth anniversary of Ignacio Martín Baró’s murder on 16 November, 1989.

It is fitting that it comes from Adrianne Aron, who with Shawn Corne, edited  Writings for a Liberation Psychology (1996) the only English language collection of Martín Baró’s writings.  She practices psychology in the San Francisco Bay Area of California, USA and more recently her Introduction to PEDRO AND THE CAPTAIN (Cadmus, 2009) describes work with torture survivors as approached by liberation psychology. PEDRO is an English translation of Mario Benedetti’s play, PEDRO Y EL CAPITAN, a dramatic dialogue between a torturer and his victim.

In her piece Adrianne reflects on the role of music in Martín Baró’s life and perspective, a reminder of the importance of cultural endeavour in both life and liberation.  I did not have the fortune to meet and know him, but I have heard about his singing from others who did, and at the Universidad Centroamericana “José Simeón Cañas” in San Salvador, where he lived and was killed I was interested to see this picture in a colleague’s office, which appears above with one of Woody Guthrie whose songs have been a great influence for Adrianne.

Others have promised pieces to mark this sad event, both to remember and to look ahead, and they will appear here.

Read Adrianne Aron;s piece “What does music have to do with it?” here


Explaining Liberation Psychology in English

At the International Community Psychology Conference in Fortaleza last month (Sept. 2014) there was a round table Doing Liberation Psychology in English”

Here is one of the presentations – from Mark Burton:

Explaining Liberation Psychology in English. Notes for paper.  and  Slides.

More to follow.

IMG_0502compPoster from the co-operative learning programme, Cipo, Pentecoste, Ceará.
“Freedom is only possible once you are also whole enough to face the responsibility of being free.”  “Freedom means responsibility and that’s why most people fear it.”
….. what do you think?


Statement of support and solidarity with the people of Gaza

updated signatories: 13/08/14
contact us if you’d still like to add your name.

This is a statement from community and community-orientated psychologists, mostly in the UK, but with an increasing number of international endorsers.

Statement of support and solidarity with the people of Gaza.

As Community and Community-Orientated Psychologists in the UK we again extend our support for and solidarity to the people of Gaza. We are calling upon the British government and the British people to take all feasible steps, beginning with immediate boycotts, disinvestments and sanctions against the state of Israel, to oblige Israel’s political administration to: abide by international law; dismantle its apartheid regime spanning both the occupied territories and Israel; immediately and unconditionally end its assault on and siege of Gaza; end the occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, including its illegal settlements; abandon all claims to possess or control territory beyond its 1967 borders; and commit to pursuing a long-lasting, just peace.

We condemn all attacks on civilians, including the rocket retaliation from Gaza, noting that combatants have an obligation to protect civilians under international law. However we draw attention to the disproportionality of Israel’s attacks on Gaza, which includes the indiscriminate killing of men, women and children by the armed forces of a supposedly democratic State whose citizens they still are (since only limited autonomy has been granted to the Palestine Authority). We are concerned by reports from doctors that DIME munitions are again in use which cause extremely destructive damage to the bodies of those near the blast. The Israeli military deliberately targets hospitals, civilian shelters and prevents medical aid reaching the injured and medical supplies and equipment from entering the Gaza Strip and destroys Gaza’s infrastructure of roads, water supplies, sanitation, food production, food distribution, food security, electricity, social services, education services, health services, law and order, housing, environmental services, and broader social support structures. We particularly note that during armed conflict, international humanitarian law requires that health care facilities, ambulances, medical personnel and the wounded and sick are all afforded specific protection.

As psychologists we also draw attention to the impact of this and other attacks on Palestinians on the psychological and social health and well-being of all sections of the population, particularly children, the elderly and those with additional vulnerabilities. UNRWA has indicated very high and rising levels of severe psychological trauma, especially among children. The extreme constraints placed on the Palestinian health services, UNRWA and the various NGOs and civil society organisations can only make this situation far worse, despite the admirable and inspiring capacity of the Palestinian people to maintain and celebrate their cultural traditions.

We do note that many Israeli citizens (at home and worldwide) are opposed to the policies and resultant violence of their government. Moreover, the situation is also detrimental to the psychological well-being of Israeli citizens, who are living in a context where threat of ‘the other’ is used to instil fear and legitimise such abhorrent action.

The massacre of civilians in Gaza is the latest, terrorist phase of a war that successive governments of Israel (supported by the USA and Britain) have been waging against the people of Palestine for more than 60 years, since Britain’s botched abandonment of its mandate triggered the Palestinian Nakba of 1948. The goal of this war has never changed: to use overwhelming military power to eradicate the Palestinians as a political force capable of resisting Israel’s ongoing appropriation of Palestinian land and resources. CPUK believes that for the sake of justice and global peace, the Israeli State must not be allowed to achieve this. Our belief in the right of the Palestinians to democratic self-determination, and to resist military aggression and colonial occupation means we stand with the people of Palestine, whether in Gaza, the West Bank, occupied Jerusalem or the pre-1967 boundaries of the State of Israel in their struggle against that racist, colonial State and its government.

Additional notes
For UNWRA statement on post-conflict psychological trauma see

The blockade means a severe shortage of medicines and other vital supplies. Before the current attack the Gaza health services were already suffering from an acute shortage of fuel and supplies, with 54 percent of medical disposables and 28 percent of essential drugs at zero stock. Now some hospitals are reporting that they do not have sutures, materials to treat bone injuries, or enough reactive agents to perform routine blood tests. On 15 July 41 organizations warned of an extremely severe Palestinian health sector crisis, with, in Gaza’s hospitals the cessation of most primary services and women’s health services.

80% of Gaza’s population are refugees or their descendants.

The Gaza population of 1.7 Million is confined in a small area, no bigger than the Isle of Wight. There is no escape from the missiles and naval bombardment, nor the frequent army incursions. There is clear evidence (for example BBC Radio 4 reports, 17 July) that Israel’s claim to warn civilians of missile attacks is meaningless. Unlike Israel, the Palestinians do not have air raid shelters.

Primary Source: Medical Aid for Palestinians


1. Professor Mark Burton 2. Dr Steve Melluish 3. Dr Cathy Amor 4. Professor Jacqueline Akhurst 5. Dr Chris Pawson 6. Aisling Kelly 7. Dr Joe Judge 8. Dr Laura Jobson 9. Christine Ward 10. Tom Wengraf 11. Dr Laara Jupp 12. Professor Carolyn Kagan 13. Teresa Nevard 14. Dr Alia Ul-Hassan 15. Jade Weston 16. Dr Sally Zlotowitz 17. Jacqui Lovell 18. Professor Kerry Chamberlain (New Zealand) 19. Dr Carl Walker 20. Dr John Cromby 21. Dr Nimisha Patel 22. Dr Penny Priest 23. Helen Beckwith 24. Lucy Hawkes 25. Dr Lianne Hovell 26. Scott Bartle 27. Sam Farley 28. Dr Donna Oxley 29. Dr Peter Branney 30. Dr Nigel Hunt 31. Dr Aneta D. Tunariu 32. Dr Argyris Argyriadis (Greece) 33. Majid Hussain 34. Dr Kasper Andreas Kristensen (Denmark) 35. Dr Tria Moore 36. Dr Paula Corcoran 37. Liz Cunningham 38. Emma-Louise Aveling 39. Kathryn Cooper 40. Stephen Thorpe 41. Masuma Rahim 42. Gareth Morgan 43. Dr Mirsad Serdarevic (USA) 44. Dr Maxine Woolhouse 45. Dr. Lisa Thorne 46. Tamsin Curno 47. Eleanor Shoultz 48. Dr Andrew Hart 49. Amna Abdulatif 50. Dr Jane Callaghan 51. Julie Bird 52. Professor Ashraf Kagee (South Africa) 53. Corinne Fortier (France) 54. Nancy Flores (New Zealand) 55. Dr. Dora Whittuck 56. Lynere Wilson (New Zealand) 57. Dr Bruce MZ Cohen (New Zealand) 58. Dr Clare Dixon 59. Dr. Nicholas Wood 60. Dr Sarah Blackshaw 61. Dr Sharen Hayre 62. Dr Oliver Pugh 63. Jenny Stuart 64. Dr Eleni Hatzidimitriadou 65. Dr Ruth Butterworth 66. Dr Anna Daiches 67. Dr Elizabeth Freeman 68. Dr Deborah Chinn 69. Dr Abdullah Mia 70. Dr. Katy Day 71. Madaleine Rowlinson 72. Dr Glenn Williams 73. Daniela Fernandez Catherall 74. Tim Siggs 75. Dr Julie Vane 76. Dr Carl Harris 77. Dr Sue Roffey (Australia) 78. Dr Jo Hadfield 79. Emma Ridley 80. Stacy Earl 81. Dr Aayesha Mulla 82. Dr Sarah Keenan 83. Carlos Luis (Mexico) 84. Dr Kelly Fulton 85. Dr Kate Foxwell 86. Dr Nausheen Masood 87. Professor Serdar Degirmencioglu (Turkey) 88. Dr Kaanan Butor-Bhavsar 89. Dr Bob Diamond 90. Naomi James 91. Dr Suzanne Elliott 92. Dr Dori Fatma Yusef 93. Dr Gemma Mitchell 94. Dr Angela Byrne 95. Dr Mohamed Altawil (Palestine Trauma Center) 96. Dr Anna Zoli (Italy) 97. Lucie Nalletamby 98. Annie Mitchell 99. Lesley Katib 100. Dr. Rochelle Ann Burgess 101. Dra. Raquel S. L. Guzzo (Brasil) 102.  Dr Melanie Smith 103. Gillian Hughes 104. Professor Roderick Watts (USA) 105. Dr Maria Castro 106. Dr Jane Alderton 107. Dr Farhana Patel 108. Dr. Greta Sykes 109. Nina Browne 110. Colm Gallagher 111. Noreen Naz 112. Mandy Underwood 113. Mandeep Singh Kallu 114. Dr Nadia Karim 115. Dr Laura Cutts 116. Professor Erica Burman 117. Professor Adrianne Aron (USA) 118. Eleftherios (Terry) Georgiou 119. Dr Evangelia Karydi.


Liberation Psychology: 25 years – time to look back and look forward.

An invitation to mark the 25th anniversary of Ignacio Martín-Baró’s murder

On 16 November, 2014, it will be the 25th anniversary of the murder of 8 people, including Ignacio Martín-Baró at the University of Central America in San Salvador.

It will be an appropriate time to reflect on Liberation Psychology in terms of Martín-Baró’s contribution, the development of the field since then, and the challenges and opportunities ahead.
I would therefore like to invite you to contribute to a collection of short pieces to be published on the English Language Liberation Psychology Network website, at

I would particularly encourage the use of diverse formats.  So you might consider pictures, video, audio, anecdotes, short stories, poems, photos as well as the more usual academic text.  And although it is important to commemorate the past – I encourage you to look forward over the tasks and possibilities for Liberation Psychologies in coming decades.

Ignacio Martín-Baró photo with guitar

Ignacio Martín-Baró

Contributions of less than 3000 words should be sent to before the anniversary on 16 November, 2014  – and preferably at some time in the next 6 months as we can publish them as they are available as a lead up to the anniversary.

Mark H Burton



News from Liberation Psychology, Community Psychology, Ecopsychology Program, Pacifica Graduate Institute

We would like to share with you the work of our students and faculty in our annual newsletter: 
Hearing Voices
Screen Shot 2014-04-23 at 3.52.07 PM 
Our students travel to classes from many different places, studying on campus 
three days a month. For information on our curriculum, scholarships, and 
admission please see our Admissions Booklet



IMB and the 99% from El Salvador to Occupy – Adrianne Aron

Now available here (and from the Documents page) Adrianne Aron:  IMB and the 99%: from El Salvador to Occupy.


Austerity and psychology

The British Psychological Society’s monthly magazine, The Psychologist has been carrying a series on austerity and psychology.  At our request this month’s articles have been made open access, which seems correct given the theme.

Charting ‘the mind and body economic’  The Midlands Psychology Group introduce a special issue dedicated to the theme of ‘austerity’ Page Numbers: 232-235

“Neoliberal ‘austerity’ programmes – favoured by many governments across the globe since the ‘Great Recession’ of 2007 – add up to a toxic regime for the mind and body of the ordinary citizen. So far, psychologists have done little to challenge the dubious scientific assumptions upon which these programmes rest. If anything, they have sought to profit from them: chiefly through the mass promotion of therapies and techniques claimed to counteract the mental and emotional damage wrought by an ever more corrosive world. But there are other ways of doing psychology; and the articles in this special issue point the way towards a far more socially aware (and arguably more scientific) version of the discipline.”  read on

Austerity in the university Ian Parker on increasing pressure and emotional labour at work for academics in times of crisis Page Numbers: 236-239

Inequality and the next generation Gary Thomas explains how the gradient of difference can impact upon identity in the classroom Page Numbers: 240-243

Gary Thomas makes reference to Wilkinson, R. & Pickett, K. (2009) [1]. The spirit level: Why more equal societies almost always do better. London: Allen Lane. – For North American readers, I understand that the book didn’t sell over there partly because the title uses a British term:  a “spirit level” is the device builders and joiners use to check that something is horizontal.

Neoliberal austerity and unemployment David Fryer and Rose Stambe examine critical psychological issues Page Numbers: 244-249

The impact of austerity on a British council estate Carl Harris takes an ‘ecological model of systems’ approach Page Numbers: 250-253

For non-British readers, in Carl Harris’s article – ‘council estate’ means an area of rented  ‘social housing’ originally built by the local council (municipality) but now usuallly semi privatised (in terms of ownership and management).

If there is one thing missing from the issue it is treatment of the role of propaganda in promoting austerity as a social and economic policy.  The mantra that ‘there is no money’, repeated ad nauseam throughout Europe, is frankly a myth as heterodox economists like Steve Keen, and Ann Pettifor [2] have been showing. Why the myths about money and its creation are perpetuated is a complicated story but the kind of analysis of propaganda made by Alex Carey [3] in Australia and Noam Chomsky [4]  in the USA can help shine some light on what’s actually going on.

1. Wilkinson, R., & Pickett, K. (2009). The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better. Harmondsworth: Penguin.  see also
2. Pettifor, A. (2014). Just Money: How Society Can Break the Despotic Power of Finance. London: Prime Economics. Retrieved from
3. Carey, A. (1997). Taking the Risk out of Democracy: Corporate Propaganda versus Freedom and Liberty (edited by A Lowrey). Champaign, Illinois, USA: University of Illinois Press.

4. Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media (Pantheon, 1988)



New Pacifica Institute Newsletter on Community Psychology, Liberation Psychology, & Ecopsychology

This newsletter is becoming a useful resource on Liberation psychology and its connections with related fields of study and struggle.  Did you know, for example that despite Bhutan touting its high levels of “Gross National Happiness” (as an alternative to the flawed Gross National Product), its military has murdered, raped, tortured and/or imprisoned many citizens, some of whom are now refugees in other places.  The newsletter includes an article on work with Bhutanese refugees in the USA.  I’m looking forward to the book that will appear this autumn by Mary Watkins and Ed Casey on the Mexico-USA border wall.  They have recently visited  Palestine to learn about the parallels with the apartheid separation wall erected by the Israeli occupation power.  There are many other interesting things in this 36 page edition, with a lot of emphasis on ecological issues and indigenous traditions and knowledge.


Liberation practices in community psychology – a Brazilian view

Slides from seminar by James Ferreira Moura Jr, given at Research Institute for Health and Social Change, Manchester Metropolitan University, March 13th, 2014.
“Theoretical and methodological conceptions in liberation practices in Community Psychology: a Brazilian point of view”
Thanks to James for a fascinating talk and for making available the slides which do give some insight into the distinctive nature of Community Psychology in Ceará over the last 30 years.  Fortaleza, Ceará, is the site of the next International Congress of Community Psychology in September, 2014.



Collaborators for the 5th Int’l Conference of Community Psychology

Hello Colleagues,

Wondering if folks are looking for compatible presentations to propose symposia or roundtable papers at the conference in Fortaleza? I’d prefer be a part of a group rather than propose a solo paper.

If so, I intend to propose work on the idea of the downpressor as a problem in community life. (Reggae music artists Peter Tosh and Bob Marley coined the term “downpressor” to emphasize the weight of oppressive social forces based on class hierarchies). I’d like to explore how acceptance and understanding of the downpressor in the (post)colonial world could be a form of psychic/social movement that could lead to middle class resistance against state violence, extreme poverty and resultant trauma.

I would look forward to discussing ideas and can be reached at