On January 9th, 2023 Four Arrows had his 44,000 word article about decolonizing Western psychology published in The Review of General Psychology, a Q1 ranked journal published by the APA with a 2022 impact factor of 4.5. The journal is edited by Thomas Teo, author of The Critique of Psychology: From Kant to Postcolonial Theory, and by Wade Pickren, author of A History of Modern Psychology in Context.

The Review of General Psychology cover

The Review of General Psychology cover

Restoring Sanity and Remembering Spirit in Psychology: Reclaiming Our Pre-Colonial Worldview.

This article focuses on rebalancing our colonial worldview assumptions about psychological healing with our pre-colonial, “Indigenous” worldview. It argues that uninvestigated dominant worldview precepts are why most approaches to psychology have not adequately addressed mental health problems. As a solution, the author offers ways to use metacognitive worldview reflection with the aid of a worldview chart with 40 contrasting but potentially complementary worldview precepts. Proposing that ceremonies and trance-based healing and learning have long been used by Indigenous peoples for living in balance, he shows how self-hypnosis (Concentration-Activated Transformation) can be used to achieve the transformations desired. Using first-person narrative, the author explains how he came to understand the importance of worldview precepts as related to human behavior and how psychology can be decolonized and transformed by addressing them.

Chart for Rebalancing Life Systems on Planet Earth Via Non-Binary Meta-Cognitive Reflection.

Common Indigenous Worldview Manifestations Common Dominant Worldview Manifestations
Egalitarian Rigid hiearchy
Courage and fearless trust in the universe Fear-based thoughts and behaviors
Socially purposeful life Living without strong social purpose
Emphasis on community welfare Focus on self and personal gain
Respect for various gender roles and fluidity Rigid and discriminatory gender stereotypes
Self-transcendent Materialistic
Earth and all systems as living and loving Earth as unloving “it”
Emphasis on heart over head More head than heart
Competition to develop positive potential Competition to feel superior
Empathetic Lacking empathy
Animistic and bio-centric Anthropocentric
Words as sacred, truthfulness as essential Words used to deceive self or others
Truth seen as multifaceted, accepting and mysterious Truth claims as absolute
Flexible boundaries and interconnected systems Rigid boundaries and fragmented systems
Regular use of alternative consciousness Unfamiliarity with alternative consciousness
Recognition of spiritual energies Disbelief in spiritual energies
Emphasis on holistic interconnectedness Disregard for holistic interconnectedness
High interpersonal engagement, touching Minimal contact with others
Inseparability of knowledge and action Emphasis on theory and rhetoric
Resistance to authoritarianism Acceptance of authoritarianism
Time as cyclical Time as linear
Seeking complementary duality Dualistic thinking
Intolerance of injustice Acceptance of injustice
Emphasis on responsibility Emphasis on rights

NOTE: see full list in the article.

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About the Author

Four Arrows

Four Arrows, Ph.D., Ed.D.

Four Arrows (Wahinkpe Topa) aka Don Trent Jacobs is currently a faculty member in the School of Leadership Studies at Fielding Graduate University. He was previously a tenured Associate Professor at Northern Arizona University, and before that he served as Director of Education at Oglala Lakota College on the Pine Ridge Reservation. He holds a PhD in Health Psychology with an emphasis on employee fitness; and an EdD in Curriculum and Instruction with a cognate in Indigenous worldview. He has authored numerous books, chapters, peer-reviewed papers and journal articles about Indigenous worldview; social/ecological justice; wellness; psycholinguistics; critical theory; teaching and learning; and neurophilosophy. He presents on these topics internationally. He is a CPED Writing Fellow and a Fulbright International Scholar. His text, Teaching Truly: A Curriculum to Indigenize Mainstream Education, was selected as one of twenty progressive education books by the Chicago Wisdom Project in 2017, along with John Dewey and Paulo Freire. UC Berkeley’s Science Center for the Greater good selected his book, co-authored with Darcia Narvaez, as one of the “most thought provoking, inspiring and practical science books of 2022.” Recipient of a Martin Springer Institute for Holocaust Studies Moral Courage Award, he was also selected by AERO as one of 27 “Visionaries in Education.”

Learn more about the School of Leadership Studies

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