Dr Haslam’s ‘Psychological Report on the New Kadampa Tradition’

As previously stated I had not read this report prior to June 6th 2019 and I only read the report after Dr Haslam included claims in it that I was defaming her. It reads very poorly and falls woefully short of being anything that can be considered as a psychological report.

Just by nature of being a psychologist does not make anything you write a psychological report and Dr Haslam seems to be abusing her title by misrepresenting her document in this way. Or if we are to consider it a psychological report then we must conclude she has breached numerous ethical standards in her methodology.

What is a Psychological Report?

In general, there’s no such thing as a psychological report in the context that Dr Haslam is using the term. Psychological reports are usually encountered in a clinical setting where you are evaluating an individual. In this context they are referred to formally as Clinical Practice Reports or CPRs and prepared by a clinical psychologist.

Given Dr Haslam is a clinical psychologist and has familiarity with producing CPRs of individuals it is unclear why she is using this term so out of context. It would appear that she is using the term to describe her report to give it undue credence and stature to readers unfamiliar with the correct use of the term.

What is a Psychological Publication?

Any publication within the realms of psychology is deemed to be a Psychological Publication and as such should by all good practices adhere to the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. This is known as writing ‘APA format’ and contrary to the name it applies to all psychologists, not just Americans.

Any manuscript dealing with the field of psychology should be prepared in, or close to, the standards defined as APA format. As Dr Haslam’s report was published, albeit self-published, it should adhere to APA format or show that it has been considered in its preparation. The fact she has intentionally disregarded this throws into question her motives for publishing her report.

According to this format any publication that is based on research and seeks to add to a body of current research should have the following:

  • Title Page
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Method
  • Results
  • Discussion
  • Author Contribution
  • References

Dr Haslam is well aware that CPRs are used for clinical evaluation of patients presenting with a diagnosable disorder and it is inappropriate for her document to be called either a CPR or a Psychological Report since it fits neither definition and does not contain the data and structure one would have. She is also well aware of the requirements of APA format for any publication as she has demonstrated this format in her previously published work.

What exactly is Dr Haslam’s Report?

Dr Haslam’s ‘Psychological Report on the New Kadampa Tradition’ comprises of two sections:

  • Section 1: The classes and those who attend
  • Section 2: Those who live and/or work in New Kadampa Tradition dharma centers

The title page clearly states that this is a ‘psychological report’ prepared by ‘Dr Michelle Haslam Clinical Psychologist’. It also states the report has been published in several locations online.

Dr Haslam is intentionally misrepresenting this document, using her professional title to try and lend stature to it. It lacks any abstract, introduction, method, results, or discussion or author contribution. Instead it is entirely composed of observations Dr Haslam has made from living within the New Kadampa Tradition at a time she was suffering from a psychiatric disorder.

‘During the time period that I worked on this report I was struggling with complex post-traumatic stress symptoms of my own linked to involvement with the NKT. Despite this I stand by the evidence I have gathered and the relevance of the references I have used.’

Dr Michelle Haslam

These factors immediately set the tone for a document that is more like a diatribe. It would be far better for Dr Haslam and anyone reading it for it to be titled ‘My Experience of Living in the New Kadampa Tradition by Michelle Haslam.’

It is a personal account written with bias not a psychological report. The attempt to include psychological references and personal qualifications is nothing more than pseudoscience.

How to Assess Dr Haslam’s Claims

I am in no position to fully assess the veracity of claims made by Dr Haslam in her report because my knowledge of Buddhism and meditation is limited to a handful of retreats at the Vipassana Meditation Center Dhamma Dharā

I am however more than suitably qualified to assess the likelihood of their accuracy based on the structure of methodology, accuracy of content, and style of research and reporting as I have a PhD in Experimental Psychology and have overseen numerous field studies in psychology.

The following pages therefore look into Dr Haslam’s methodology, background and data.

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