A Psychology of Liberation for Central America: The Unfinished Work of Ignacio Martín-Baró (1942–1989)

José María Gondra
  • The Spanish Journal of Psychology, January 2013, Cambridge University Press
  • DOI: 10.1017/sjp.2013.53

The evolution of Ignacio Martín-Baró from Existential Psychoanalysis to the Psychology of Liberation

What is it about?

On November 16, 1989 the world was shocked by the news of the assassination of six Jesuits at the campus of the Universidad Centro Americana José Simeón Cañas (UCA) in San Salvador, El Salvador. Among those murdered by government soldiers was Ignacio Martín-Baró, a PhD in social psychology from the University of Chicago who at that time was the Vice-Rector for Academic Affairs and Vice-President of the Interamerican Society of Psychology (SIP). Drawing on Martín-Baró’s published writings and non-published academic papers and correspondence, this article traces the evolution of the Spanish-born Jesuit who became a leading authority among Latin American social psychologists. In particular, it analyzes his project of becoming a clinical psychologist under the influence of psychoanalysis, his critical social psychology aimed to “de-ideologize” the oppressed social classes of El Salvador, and his ultimate project of a psychology of liberation for Latin America. Martín-Baró’s work came to a tragic end just when it began to bear fruit, but it stands as a testimony to a lifetime committed to the human values of democracy, social justice and service to society’s poorest and most neglected.

The following have contributed to this page: Dr José María Gondra