I totally appreciate that I’m not your average prisoner. I came to jail much younger than most and I’ve been in prison ever since. I’ve spent my entire adult life behind bars. But I’m sick of reading about so called ‘psychobabes’ in Inside Time and hearing other prisoners here go on about them.
For those of you who don’t know, ‘psychobabes’ is a term coined by prisoners to refer to the very many twenty-something psychologists who work in the prison service. Many prisoners say that they don’t like them because they are fresh out of university with no life experience and yet they try and tell grown men how they should be living. Others say that they don’t like them because they are usually middle class suburbanites who couldn’t possibly relate to the daily tribulations of an inner city grafter. But I don’t care what their reasons are. I’ve had just about enough of it.
The term itself is enough to get on my nerves. It is derogatory and sexist. It reduces the many young female psychologists to ‘babes’ without any reference to the few male psychologists that also do the job. And as if that wasn’t enough, the meaning behind it bugs me too. They might not be fifty year old working class men, but that doesn’t mean they have no life experience. They’ve got lots of experiences that I’m sure we could all learn from, just as they learn from ours too. And in any case, they’ve spent more time living life on the outside than I have!
But don’t get me wrong. I happen to think that the way psychology in prisons is run is both unreliable and counterproductive. I just think that calling the psychologists names that trivialise who they are and what they have achieved does no one justice. If you want to argue against prison psychology, fine. But lay off the personal attacks on the psychologists themselves.