Seeking Balance

Editorial. Introduces a series of articles which deals with balance in life in the field of psychology.

By Robert Epstein Ph.D., published July 1, 2000 - last reviewed on June 9, 2016

Koyaanisqatsi. It's not a word you hear every day. In the language of theHopi Indians, it means "life out of balance." Director Godfrey Reggio used the term as the title of his classic film--a disturbing swirl of traffic jams, automation gone berserk, and exploding pieces of the Challenger space shuttle. Life out of balance is effortful and unpleasant at best. At times, it can be agonizing.

By choice or necessity, we all seek balance in our lives: the balance of work and play, of freedom and responsibility, of chocolate cake and Diet Coke (I insist these balance out). Even our bodies seek balance, compensating for changing conditions to keep temperature, blood sugar, and dozens of other characteristics stable. Balance means health.

Balance is also a goal of PSYCHOLOGY TODAY. We strive, from cover to cover, to bring you authoritative information about mental health and the behavioral sciences. By authoritative, we don't mean merely "from authorities." Gurus, after all, are considered by some to be authorities, and almost anyone these days can gain authority status with a slick Web page. We're talking about the authority that comes from scientific research. Science gives us powerful methods for testing the validity of conjectures and hypotheses. It's a conservative endeavor, subjecting every idea to the constant scrutiny of a large, fairly skeptical community. It yields concepts and techniques we can count on--and, at its best, it never stops re-examining.

But since science can be boring, even intimidating, PSYCHOLOGY TODAY, in the spirit of magazines like Popular Science and Scientific American, tries to make the behavioral sciences appealing. This requires considerable balancing; in fact, we often feel like we're walking on a very thin tightrope, trying to assure, on the one hand, that our content is scientifically accurate, while also making it fun and easy to digest--all without falling into the pit of mediocrity. We go to great lengths to stay aloft--recruiting accomplished scientists and scholars to write articles, then rewriting, editing and illustrating to bring the concepts to life. We design several different covers for each issue and then conduct surveys to determine what will appeal to the consumer. We end up, we hope, with an impeccably balanced product--one with the allure and readability of a pop magazine and the scientific rigor of a scholarly journal.

This issue exemplifies our best efforts. More than 400 consumers helped us pick our "Got Love?" cover. The cover topic is "pop," but our treatment is authoritative: Yale University's Robert Sternberg, Ph.D., one of the world's most distinguished psychologists, will give you some remarkable insights into your love life in an article that's provocative, practical, and, yes, science-based. In "My Best Friend Is A Chimp," another outstanding researcher, Roger Fouts, Ph.D., will show you our primate cousins with a unique mix of compassion and rigor. In "Do We Really Have A Sixth Sense?" parapsychologist Dean Radin, Ph.D., argues that such a sense exists, and University of Oregon psychologist Ray Hyman, Ph.D., offers a compelling critique.

To keep our balance, we need your feedback. Are we entertaining and informing you? Are we helping you achieve your own balance? Let me know.

ROBERT EPSTEIN is editor-in-chief of PSYCHOLOGY TODAY, University Research Professor at United States International University in San Diego, and Director Emeritus of the Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies in Massachusetts. He earned his Ph.D. in psychology at Harvard University in 1981. You can reach him at psychtoday@juno.com.