The Department of Psychology created a “Positive Action Team” during the 2017-2018 year to create public facing statements affirming our Department’s mission and values. In response to the ongoing crises with family separations, the team drafted the following open letter which is also posted on our Department website. See here.
UC Berkeley Department of Psychology Statement on Family Separations
Faculty, staff, and graduate students from the UC Berkeley Department of Psychology add our voice to the American Psychological Association, The American Psychiatric Association,The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Public Health Association, the American College of Physicians, the Society for Research in Child Development, international attachment researchers, and the American College of Nurse Midwives in condemning in the strongest possible terms the Trump Administration’s policy of detaining, separating and/or keeping separated families attempting to enter the US on our southern border. With the aforementioned groups, our department considers this policy to be irresponsibly and unnecessarily harmful and cruel, completely unjustifiable, and utterly contrary to the moral values of our nation.
Psychological research indicates that forced separation of families, especially the separation of young children from their primary caregivers, carries enormous risks of severe and potentially irreparable harm. Forced separation may lead to acute trauma, which can trigger increased vulnerability to mental illnesses, including depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress disorder, and can impair children’s neurological, social, and cognitive development. Long-term outcomes known to be associated with childhood trauma include substance misuse, depression, suicide, and poor physical health. These kinds of impacts are likely to be especially severe for families already dealing with the considerable stress of fleeing war, violence, and instability in their home countries. Resilience is certainly possible for children undergoing extreme stressors and family separations. That is, children experiencing the kinds of trauma just noted can avoid lasting negative effects, with the right, timely interventions. Yet adding to such severe stress with family separation is not a humane or scientifically defensible strategy. It is morally abhorrent to deliberately and callously inflict such harms on innocent children for any purpose. We call on the Trump Administration, Congress, and the Department of Homeland Security to immediately reunite families who have been separated and end this shameful chapter in this nation’s history.
Karen De Valois, Emeritus Professor
Stephen Palmer, Emeritus Professor
Ervin Hafter, Emeritus Professor
Philip Cowan, Emeritus Professor
Dan Slobin, Emeritus Professor
Carolyn Cowan, Emeritus Professor
Donald A. Riley, Emeritus Professor
Eric Hesse, Adjunct Professor
Mary Main, Professor
Allison Harvey, Professor
Robert Knight, Professor
Lance Kriegsfeld, Professor
Iris Mauss, Professor
Sheri Johnson, Professor
Dacher Keltner, Professor
Lucia Jacobs, Professor
Ozlem Ayduk, Professor
Frederic Theunissen, Professor
Stephen Hinshaw, Professor
Ann Kring, Professor
Aaron Fisher, Assistant Professor
Mahesh Srinivasan, Assistant Professor
Mark Ho, Postdoc
Sarah Metz, Postdoc
Christine Mullarkey, Staff member
John Schindel, Staff member
Cynthia Baker-Smith, Staff member
Arlene Diaz, Staff member
R. Harumi Quinones, Staff member
Vivian Hoang, Staff member
Elizabeth Peele, Staff member
Jennifer Pearlstein, Graduate student
Catherine Berner, Staff member
Isaac Mirzadegan, Staff member
Paul Connor, Graduate student
Peter Soyster, Graduate student
Daniel Stancato, Graduate student
Stephen Antonoplis, Graduate student
Shoshana Jarvis, Graduate student
Amanda Perez, Graduate student
Devon Sandel, Graduate student
Daniel Lurie, Graduate student
Frances Nkara, Graduate student
Alice Hua, Graduate student
Arianna Benedetti, Graduate student
Kaley Curtis, Graduate student
Susan Mauskopf, Graduate student
Samy Abdel-Ghaffar, Graduate student
Catherine Anicama, Graduate student
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