Tuesday, 8 December 2009


Another good word on the road to ruin?

For a long time I have used the word psychosocial to indicate the material mechanisms, the transactions, the interiorisation (internalisation), the active, reciprocal nature of development – including dysontogenesis (‘dysfunction’ in conductive-speak).

I have found it essential and convenient to use this word, not least in counterposing the excessive medicalisation of the very notion of disability and for articulating the concrete processes of pedagogy and upbringing, not least of the conductive kind!

I do hope that I can continue to do so, for I have just read that the voluntary sector 'will have a psycho-social role in next decade'. Says one Geoff Mulgan, a former Director of Policy at 10 Downing St, and now Director of the Young Foundation:

…gaps in government social policy in areas such as isolation and social support… are things that the voluntary sector tends to be better placed to deal with, and the more we move into the territory of psychology and psycho-social needs, the more the sector becomes potentially more important.

According to the report that I have just read he also says the voluntary sector still faces 'challenges' in

...providing holistic, rather than function-specific services…On balance, the third sector [voluntary charitable bodies] is better than the public sector at seeing people in the round - but it's far from perfect… We don't really have joined-up or holistic services in any fields.

Well, on that last point, Mr Mulgan, you speak for yourself, and for all that is done out of the paradigm that you represent.


Meanwhile, ‘holistic’ is another one-time useful and meaningful word, subsequently hijacked first by New-Agers and quacks, and then by their peers on the Dark Side, the bureaucrats, reduced now to mere rhetoric in the service of all sorts of agendas and philosophies. Along the way it has picked up such dreadful associations and connotations as to make it unusable in any sensible discussion of Conductive Education – or of anything else.

And as for sad, Blairite ‘joined up’…

Readers of Conductive World may recall that the Latin for ‘joined up’ is conductiva. Let us hope that this word never gets spotted and kidnapped for use by those with other agendas, other philopsophies.


As for this swinging new meaning for ‘psychosocial’, one can but hope that it will soon be forgotten in the hurly-burly of events.


Little, M. (2009) Charities could fill gaps in government social policy, says report, Third Sector, 8 December 2009

Young Foundation (2009) Sinking and swimming: understanding Britain's unmet needs, (report) December


  1. Even better, he says "psycho-social needs", which elevates the whole phrase to the same level of obfuscation as "special educational needs".

    "Needs"? Psycho-social "needs"?

    I've a pyscho-social need just now to interact with the environment of my tea-pot.

  2. I'm so gald that you share my distaste for this awful word 'needs'.

    At least we have a folie à deux (Wikipedia offers a jolly exposition of this particular madness if you are not familiar with it).

    My own distaste simply grows and grows. I find the expression deeply offensive, both intellectually and morally.

    Would that it were a madness to experience this so. If madness there be, however, I would place it firmly in the 'needs' camp.


  3. Norman,

    As you probably know, I have an exceedingly low opinion of the concept of 'psychiatry'

    I forgot to add the following sentance from the Wikipedia article to my comment above:

    'It is not clear at what point a belief considered to be delusional escapes from the folie à... diagnostic category and becomes legitimate because of the number of people holding it.'

    Folie à deux , folie à trois, folie à plusieurs... that how nouvelles vagues begin.

    Your in continuing hope,