Lois Holzman is a major voice in the current conversation about the failure of the knowing paradigm and the development of alternatives ways to be in and relate to the world. Her previous eight books, in particular, The End of Knowing: A New Developmental Way of Learning (written in collaboration with the late public philosopher Fred Newman), present arguments for a cultural and performatory understanding of human life in light of the history and current limitations of the scientific, knowing paradigm. Over the past two decades, she has provided significant thought leadership to those seeking new paradigms of social and emotional life through her and Newman’s discovery that play, performance and group creativity are the leading factors in human development and learning throughout the lifespan. Holzman is a member of the Dx Summit on Diagnostic Alternatives, an international group seeking to advocate for and disseminate alternatives to current diagnostic systems of mental illness.
As a corollary of this important work, Holzman is sought after as a leading expert on the brilliant early 20th century Russian psychologist Lev Vygotsky, renowned worldwide among educators. She and Newman are unique in having established Vygotskian-influenced practices in psychotherapy, youth development and organizational leadership through organizations that touch the lives of hundreds of thousands of adults and young people. Their 1993 book, Lev Vygotsky: Revolutionary Scientist, was publsihed as a Psychology Press Classic Text in 2013. In 2014, Holzman received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Cultural-Historical Research Special Interest Group of the American Educational Research Association.
Lois is co-founder with Fred Newman of the East Side Institute for Group and Short Term Psychotherapy, an international training and research center for developing and promoting alternative and radically humanistic approaches in psychology, therapy, education and community building. Since the mid-1980s, the Institute has worked to evolve a social-cultural approach to human development that promotes practices that relate to people of all ages as social performers and creators of their lives.
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Lois Holzman met philosopher/psychotherapist Fred Newman in 1976. Holzman had just completed her Ph.D. in developmental psychology; Newman had just left academic life (he had been teaching philosophy) to organize radical education, health, mental health and political projects in the communities of NYC. Inspired by Newman’s work to create new kinds of organizations that challenge institutionalized ways of doing things, Holzman began to study and work with him. In the ensuing decades, Newman and Holzman have built a unique collaborative relationship that has impacted on how psychology, psychotherapy and education are practiced and understood.
Together Newman and Holzman have given expression to Newman’s discovery of social therapy, an approach to continuous emotional growth. Both are founders of the East Side Institute for Group and Short Term Psychotherapy, the international research and training center at which social therapy is taught and advanced; they work with social therapy centers around the country, and have been instrumental in creating many projects that utilize the social therapeutic approach in all kinds of educational, organizational, health and mental health settings.
From their first collaborative writing, The Practice of Method (1978), Newman and Holzman have spent the last three decades organizing, studying and learning from community-based projects — in the U.S. and around the world — that utilize the social therapeutic and other cultural approaches in educational, healthcare, organizational, and mental health settings.Together and separately they have written dozens of books and articles over the last twenty years. These writings articulate for academics and practitioners the methodological, philosophical and political implications of their new approach to understanding human life, to fostering human development, and to building community.
They are known for their practical and revolutionary reading of Russian psychologist Lev Vygotsky, for their activity theoretic and therapeutic utilization of Ludwig Wittgenstein’s philosophical method, for thier postmodernization of Marxism, and for their recognition — in practice — that the human capacity to perform is critical to learning and growing at any age of the developmental potential of the human capacity to perform at any age.
For their radical challenge to scientific psychology — the day-to-day community practice that is the “end of knowing” — they are regarded as among the most rigorous, inventive and controversial postmodern developmentalists.