Report on the 30th International Congress of Psychology 22-27th July 2012 in Cape Town, South Africa

Approximately five and half thousand members of the International Congress of Psychology attended the conference held in South Africa. There were over 80 countries represented. Needless to say they were not all members of the International Council of Psychologists, but we did our best to persuade them to be so! Our own membership there was less than a dozen, but those that came found it stimulating to be in South Africa and in Cape Town most especially, and to meet many delegates from other countries.

I had the pleasure of meeting the President of the ICP, Saths Cooper and the Past President, Rainer Silbersen. The theme of the Congress was “Psychology serving Humanity.”

The scientific programme was outstanding with many speakers from 80 plus countries. The programme covered such themes as: assessment and evaluation, aviation psychology (medicine) cognitive psychology, community psychology, counselling, culture developmental psychology, educational psychology, and engineering psychology, as well as human factors. Ethics was also on the programme. A total of 44 areas were covered during the six days of the conference including an opening and a closing ceremony.
Our own ICP Inc. get-together was on 26th July. Tara Pir organised matters for our Symposium very well and was very generous in presenting us with a social hour at which time as Discussant, I presented a summary of the organised symposium on “The Challenges and Opportunities of GLOBAL ageing in the Technological Era: From Adolescent to Adulthood to Elder Adulthood”.

As Discussant I was asked to summarise the talks given by the three speakers. This now follows.

ICP Cape TownThe first speaker was Justina Aire, Professor in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at St Georges University, Grenada. Justina discussed the effect of developing technology on the normal problems of adolescents as they develop. She mentioned about adolescents as a whole engaging in risky behaviour, but stated that this behaviour was dependent on their genetic makeup as well as their experiences both good and bad. She emphasised the fact that many adolescents were exposed to physical and sexual violence and the explosion of technological development and devices which are ever growing. The policing of this for adults is difficult due to the fact that they do not have an easy grasp of such technologies. The technological devices have led to an unhealthy lifestyle for all, including many young people, who because of their frequent use of computers, suffer from obesity and being less active.

Amos Alao IuPsySThe second speaker was Amos Alao, presently a Professor of Counselling Psychology in the Department of Psychology, Covenant University, Nigeria. Amos spoke about the effect of technology on those aged 17-45 or middle adult stage leading up to 65 years of age. He discussed the development of adolescents as they became more independent and the fact that their roles change. These changes are based on both biological factors, as well as cultural and social factors. They also change cognitively and experience, in many cases, the effects of competition and not being able to obtain jobs, despite having a good education. He mentioned the gender and role changes as individuals became older and more mature. He also noted that women have become more assertive and independent and there have become more increasing conflicts with men as a result. This is also the case in employment opportunities. He emphasised that there is a need to accept changes and that more modern parents tended to be more permissive in their child rearing practices which may not be a good thing for the future.

Denmark Cape TownOur final speaker was Florence Denmark, from Pace University, New York, well known to everyone due to her being an internationally recognised scholar and policy maker. Florence is currently the main NGO representative to the UN for the ICP Inc. and serves on the UN Executive Committees of Ageing, Mental Health, and Family. Florence spoke about the effect of developing technology on the aged. Her first point was that the population of the aged will double between 2000 and 2050. There appears to be an 18-19% increase in the aged over time. She also emphasised the importance of improving the quality of life of those who are older and stressed that older people are not always helpless or incompetent. In certain areas many are still employed and this should be encouraged. They should also have access to technology and adopt a healthy and active lifestyle. There should be more recognition of the role of older parents and grandparents caring for children. She stressed that there was too much emphasis on the elderly suffering from dementia. Many were still active and achieving long into old age. She felt that it was vital to emphasise dignity, health and independence in the elderly. Florence also mentioned the ministerial conference on ageing in Vienna to be held shortly.

I would like to thank all those who attended and say to those who wished to attend but for whatever reason were unable to do so for physical or health reasons and other factors, that we missed your presence. Again may I complement Tara Pir for her excellent organisation skills and making the smallness of our numbers a positive experience rather than a deficit.
Cape Town Group<
All best wishes to our ICP Inc. family,

Ludwig Lowenstein
President of ICP.
My own presentation was on terrorism and was entitled “Terrorists in our midst”.