I'm a writer, researcher, and photographer who is recognized as an expert in emerging fields of psychology. I have published widely on topics related to eastern philosophy, psychotherapy, creativity, cyberpsychology, and photographic psychology.
My collected works and vita are available online.
email: suler at rider dot edu
I received my bachelors degree in psychology from the State University of New York at Stony Brook in 1977, where I studied in the hard core behavioral psychology department, while on the side sneaking in philosophy courses on Freud, existentialism, and thanatology. I was impressed by Thomas Altizer's Kierkegaardian and Nietzschean spin on religion, and intrigued by the esoteric techniques of sex research as an assistant in James Geer's behavioral lab. Then on to my doctorate in Clinical Psychology from the State University of New York at Buffalo in 1982, where I benefited from such great mentors as Ed Katkin, Joe Masling, Murray Levine, and Arlene Burrows. I learned that being both a clinician and scientist indeed is possible. After leaving Buffalo I did a year internship in the Department of Psychiatry at the Hospital of the University of Connecticut. Not only were my supervisors excellent - Howard Tennen, Karel Rubenstein, and Harry Fiss - but the UConn Health Center was one of the most beautiful buildings I ever worked in. From there I moved on to a 38-year career as a faculty member in the Rider University Psychology Department, while also continuing my post-graduate psychotherapy training for 12 years in a clinical group led by Nancy McWilliams, one of the most skilled psychoanalytic psychologists and theoreticians I have known. Until his untimely death, I also had the pleasure of working with Lloyd Silverman on the use of imagery techniques in psychotherapy.
RESEARCH & PUBLICATIONS
Over the years my professional and academic work has progressed through several stages. Starting in graduate school, I conducted research on mental imagery and creativity. As a practicing psychotherapist, I was especially interested in the application of these topics in clinical work. Mental imagery and creativity both involve distinctly non-verbal and non-rational processes, which partially explains why I later became intrigued by the relationship between eastern philosophy and psychoanalytic theory, leading to my book with SUNY Press, Contemporary Psychoanalysis and Eastern Thought.
The evolution of computers and the internet into an imagistic, sensory, and associational medium captured my imagination. Once I bought my first Mac and 5200 modem many years ago, I became intensely focussed on studying life online, particularly the avatar community called The Palace. As one of a small handful of researchers who founded cyberpsychology as a new discipline, I was fascinated by cyberspace on several levels: how individuals and groups behave online, psychotherapy and clinical work in cyberspace, the internet as a new medium for scholarly discourse and communication, and what I call photographic psychology, which is the study of how people create, share, and react to images using digital photography and online photosharing, especially images portraying ideas in psychology. In 2016 I published with Cambridge University Press my book Psychology of the Digital Age: Humans Become Electric, which covers the insights I learned from two decades of cyberpsychology research.
Once I realized the many benefits of hypertext books and publishing online, I created several comprehensive websites that reflected my areas of research: Zen Stories to Tell your Neighbors, Teaching Clinical Psychology, The Psychology of Cyberspace, and Photographic Psychology. That last one caught the eye of Dick Zakia, a psychologist well-known in photography for his book Perception and Imaging: Photography as a Way of Seeing. We struck up an engaging correspondence via email, he invited me to contribute sections to the new edition of his book, and after his death I was honored to be invited to write the fifth and last edition of his book.
I taught psychology courses for 40 years, most of those in the Rider University Psychology Department. My teaching philosophy emphasized the importance of applying psychology to everyday life, including a better understanding of oneself, one's interpersonal relationships, how culture affects us, and life in general. Although interested in all the paradigms in psychology, my teaching highlighted psychodynamic and humanistic points of view. A running theme throughout my research as well as my teaching is that psychology can arrive at knowledge not just through the traditional scientific method, but also through intution, participant-observation, interviews, and in-depth case studies. Among the students I became well-known for a casual teaching style, my humor, hard exams with ample opportunities for extra credit, and activities encouraging you to understand yourself.
I was as consulting editor for Behavior Online, a member of the editorial board for CyberPsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, one of the founders of the International Society for Mental Health Online (ISMHO), and editor of The Contemporary Media Forum for The Journal of Applied Psychoanalysis. I created and served as moderator for a variety of online professional and public discussion groups - including, with the collaboration of my colleague Michael Fenichel, the first peer clinical supervision and brainstorming research group: the ISMHO Clinical Case Study Group. As the internet became a prominent topic in the media, my work was reported by The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, the BBC, the Chicago Sun Times, CNN, MSNBC, US News and World Report, NBC Nightly News, NPR, the APA Monitor, and The Chronicle of Higher Education.