1999 Speech of Dr Martin Seligman after becoming president of the American psychological Association:
I think there were two great victories in psychology.
Now, by my count, 14 of the major mental illnesses are treatable, two of them curable, in my opinion, by either psychotherapies or by pharmacological agents. So that was the first great victory. This is very important.
And the second great victory was that a science, and this is the important lesson for us, the science of mental illness developed. We asked by experimental methods and by very sophisticated longitudinal methods, how do these things get caused? And, best of all, we developed interventions for these things, both biological and psychological, and were able to test, in rigorous ways, whether or not these interventions worked. So a science appeared built out of nowhere that actually works.
But the cost of this was that psychology forgot its other two missions.
It forgot that it was also about making the lives of normal people better and more fulfilling and more productive and happier.
And it forgot about genius, it forgot that one of our obligations is to identify the most talented young people and find the conditions under which they flourished. That mission is virtually a dirty word now. (flower power) Well, that was the cost. (Exerpt and shortened be he)
Dr Martin Seligman is Director of the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania and founder of Positive Psychology, a new branch of psychology which focuses on the empirical study of such things as positive emotions, strengths-based character, and healthy institutions.