Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 78.djvu/298

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288 TEE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

business, if the stenographer becomes president, he gets another stenog- rapher ; so here, if the consulting psychologist goes into executive work, let him get another consulting psychologist ; for, even if the superintend- ent be the best trained for expert work, his duties are of a general administrative sort and he can not afford to devote himself to the de- tails of technical work. And if the psychologist is to be successful in the long run, it is desirable that his ideas shall pass muster in the superintendent's office before they are put into operation in the routine of the institution. The temptation to undertake executive duties and to infringe upon the rights of the executive is a natural stumbling block, for it is human nature to reach out for power especially when there seems to be a crying need for its exercise. The consulting psy- chologist has come about as a result of the differentiation of function and he will find himself permanently only as he recognizes that he is a specialist and limits himself to the work of advice and research within a narrowly limited field, respects the dignity of his calling, and covets no other.

The consulting psychologist will not dissipate his energies in gen- eral psychology. While a broad training in theoretical and experi- mental psychology is the best asset with which to start the career, his success as an expert will depend largely upon his willingness to steer clear of pure science problems and his determination to devote his ingenuity and best energies to the adaptation and application of facts already known. There is a constant temptation to evade tasks of achieving something practical for the pleasure of browsing in the green pastures of all knowledge. Like Edison he must stick to his beakers and batteries even at the expense of public ridicule.

The consulting psychologist does not yield unduly to pressure for results. One of his chief duties is to forestall the precipitous rush into extensive application of what may be at best but a specious principle. He will dare to say, " I don't know," even if it should take him years to search for the seemingly trifling fact. While we but little dream of the possibilities in command of applied psychology, there is in the present atmosphere entirely too sanguine a feeling in regard to what it can do on short notice. Instead of being hazardous at guessing, the consulting psychologist must have courage to demand that he have the privilege of making patient search before he prescribes. Thus he has to pass through the narrows with the danger of dissipating his ener- gies in aimless search for truth for truth's sake, on the one hand, and, on the other, the danger of hasty and ill-advised rush into practise.

The consulting psychologist is not a reformer. People think that he holds the magic wand and can transform situations suddenly. If inexperienced, he is likely to enter upon a program of reconstruction, for all seems wrong; but, as soon as responsibility is placed upon him

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