The Malta Independent 11 December 2018, Tuesday

Where have the social values gone?

Andrew Azzopardi Wednesday, 6 December 2017, 09:45 Last update: about 2 years ago

As a social scientist I am naturally inclined to be interested in the different ideologies that can help us explain so much in life; where the Government positions itself, what type of economy we have, what economic platform is used, what welfare paradigm we are cultivating, what communities we are nurturing, what values are we promoting and so on and so forth.

However, these ‘ideologies’ in our local political scenario have practically disappeared (conveniently) in thin air.  Everything about politics has turned stealth.  Politicians are as anonymous and faceless as they come.  They are ostracised if they position themselves on an issue whether moral or not, expected to obey the party Whip like ‘naghag ta’ Bendu’.   Are positioned in the highest places of the Party hierarchy if they wear the eyeshades and smile like muttonheads.  The moment a group of politicians or even one representative pronounces him/herself not in sync with the Leader, ‘miskin hu jew hi’ - all hell will break loose.  Politics nowadays, more than ever, has taken a turn downward I’m sorry to say. 


It’s not the political climate I am talking about at this stage, I’ve talked about this way too many times that will bore you to tears.  What I am schmoozing about is that we have politicians that are only important because they help bring in the votes.  Once that bit is done they almost become irrelevant, invisible and indistinguishable; ta-ta dreams, ideas and targets. 

To add insult to injury, our analysis on who should lead this Country has drifted away and is rootless.  What seems to guide our choice of leadership is popularity, fame, celebrity and eminence rather than worth, usefulness, merit and esteem. 

Ethics, principles, moral codes - let’s not even go there!

Once again, we assess what Government to choose on the ‘simpatija’ of the Leader, on our family economy and we tend to align ourselves with the people who seem to be in pole-position to win the next election, because we want to be with the winning team.   But whilst I can come to terms with the fact that people have conditions on whom to pick out as their representatives, I still think that we need to ride above that minimalism.  I feel that we need to base our choice on who represents us, at whatever level or type of association, on other principles if we really love our Country and want it to continue to flourish in the years to come.  I personal believe that social-ism in its broadest sense and the values that govern it are a guarantee of longevity. 

Not that I am in favour of the disenfranchisement that this ideology (socialism) has left all over the World.  But as Oscar Wilde states in his piece, ‘The Soul of Man Under Socialism’;

It is clear, then, that no Authoritarian Socialism will do. For while under the present system a very large number of people can lead lives of a certain amount of freedom and expression and happiness, under an industrial-barrack system, or a system of economic tyranny, nobody would be able to have any such freedom at all. It is to be regretted that a portion of our community should be practically in slavery, but to propose to solve the problem by enslaving the entire community is childish. Every man must be left quite free to choose his own work. No form of compulsion must be exercised over him. If there is, his work will not be good for him, will not be good in itself, and will not be good for others. And by work I simply mean activity of any kind.

In many ways this ideology had the potential to be read in a much better way. 

Good, genuine social-ism would help us have better communities from where we can draw the need to distribute our goods according to necessity.  It would also mean that we share our knowledge and we give weight to everyone’s aspirations, ambitions and desires.  These are the values that should govern community and not only material wealth, low rates of unemployment, career advancement, private property, possessions and belongings, material goods and chattels.   There is more to life, then prosperity and riches (not that de-value the importance of capital).  However, there is above all a need to belong, to fit in, to feel right and to be regarded in our community – that is what politicians should be pursuing.

The Psychotherapy Profession Bill

As Dean of the Faculty for Social Wellbeing I would like to express my concern on the Psychotherapy Profession Bill that has recently been tabled in Parliament.

The Department of Psychology, which incidentally is the largest Department within the Faculty for Social Wellbeing, hosts almost 600 students and is responsible for teaching and conducting research in the areas of general psychology, human relationships and mental health. The mission of this Department is to train undergraduates and postgraduates in the scientific understanding of the human mind and human relationships. The programmes offered by the Department include: Bachelor in Psychology (Honours); Degrees with Psychology as an Area of Study (offered in collaboration with other Faculties); Higher Diploma in Psychology and the Master in Psychology.

The commitment of this Faculty through this Department in addressing such a delicate and intricate discipline is second to none.  My interest as Dean of this Faculty is to ensure that we have the right professionals, with the right type of training providing the best quality of service to those who require our support - my concern on this issue at hand is intended to be interpreted this way.

In actual fact, the recently proposed bill intended to regularise Psychotherapists is implying that only Psychotherapists can legally practise this therapy. It is important that I flag a situation that creates a conflict with the Psychology Profession Act, (2004) which stipulates that warranted Psychologists can implement what section 9 of the Act refers to as “a set of therapeutic interventions” because Psychotherapy, is in fact, one of the main features of many psychologists’ practice.

In countries such as the USA, UK and Malta, Psychotherapy is a core competency of the training of many psychologists. These psychologists are trained in a wide range of mental and physical health problems and are able to conduct clinical assessments. Psychological assessment may lead to psychological intervention, which may consist of various forms of psychotherapy. Psychologists generally draw on one or more theories of psychotherapy, which act as a guide to understanding and intervening with clients and their problems. If the proposed bill were to pass as is, it would have not only serious consequences on the Psychology profession but risks short-changing vulnerable people.

Consequently, I would like to appeal to the competent authorities to re-think the architecture of this legislation within the parameters we are indicating, that is to say, a bill that will strengthen and bring together different professions rather than create unnecessary and unwarranted division which would affect the vulnerable populations we need to work with.

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