Kirk Honda is a psychologist and the host of the podcast Psychology in Seattle; here is a link to his website:
Q: What made you interested in psychology?
A: Psychology involves many things I enjoy: philosophy, history, culture, politics, meaning, biology, etc. But mostly, I just enjoy helping others.
Q: What is your therapeutic approach?
A: In my approach to therapy, rather than adhering to one specific school of thought, I utilize an integrative approach that carefully and thoughtfully selects from several useful models:
Relational psychodynamic theory and attachment theory states that people are affected by their early attachment figures.
Experiential therapies involve helping individuals and families emote more freely and healthily.
Humanistic psychology focuses on the good in people and their growth potential.
Systems theory states that individuals are a part of an interconnected whole.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a practical approach to helping in which the therapist helps the client find solutions by changing the way the client thinks and behaves.
Feminist theory that questions our cultural understandings and advocates for fairness.
Q: How did your radio show come to be?
A: In 2008, I was listening to a lot of podcasts (e.g., This American Life), and I thought maybe I could provide something that wasn’t being offered at the time: an informative AND entertaining podcast on the topic of psychology.
Q: Is the psychological make-up of the average Pacific North Westerner different than that of other American’s?
A: There have been many studies on the topic of personality by U.S. region. When groups of people are studied, there appear to be some differences between groups of people by region. However, many of the current claims in the media are dubious and not supported by evidence. For example, it is common wisdom that people in Seattle are cold and distant — called the “Seattle Freeze.” However, research has yet to convincingly support this claim. Furthermore, anecdotally, reports vary from “Seattleites are the coldest people ever” to “Seattleites are the friendliest people ever.” So, at this point, it is difficult to determine if there are indeed personality differences and what they are. In my opinion, as a Seattleite myself, people are just as warm and friendly as anyone else, however, they might communicate it differently that others.
Q: How do you go about procuring guests?
A: Some people ask to be on the podcast, and I also reach out to people. As a professor and clinician, I run into a lot of interesting people.
Q: What was the most controversial thing you have ever done a show about?
Strangely, my podcast on Milton Erickson has produced the most controversy; some people love it and some people hate it. Other controversial topics have been Elliot Rodger, Sexual Objectification, and Spanking Fetish, among others.
Q: You’ve done a couple of shows about Elliot Rodger, what made you interested in that particular case?
A: At first, I thought Elliot Rodger was just another spree killer, but when I started looking into it, I found the story to be fascinating. I also found our reaction, as a society, to be worth discussing. There are wide-ranging implications regarding feminism, materialism, elitism, racism, mental health, gun laws, police procedure, internet forums, etc.
Q: What do you think the mainstream media has missed about the case?
A: Since so much has been written and said, there does not appear to be anything missed by the media. However, in my opinion, the gun law debate tragically overshadowed the discussion regarding our mental health system, e.g., allocation of public funds for more psychiatric beds and a lower threshold for psychiatric holds.
Q: Do you think his killing spree could have been prevented?
A: It is difficult to predict what would have happened if things were different. However, I believe we can prevent some spree killings if we had a lower threshold for psychiatric holds and a greater number of psychiatric beds available. There is strong evidence that this small measure would reduce the rate of these events.
Q: I certainly do not advocate censorship in any form, I am no psychology expert and have no idea how this could have been prevented. However, I did read the manifesto and couldn’t help coming up with my own armchair analysis of one aspect of the whole thing. Elliot Rodger writes that his dad Peter Rodger gave him the book The Secret to read. The Secret would suggest that people can attract material wealth and success to themselves just by wanting it badly enough and asking the universe for it. I don’t think that Peter was demonstrating the greatest parenting skills in the world by giving this book to a child who already had delusions of grandeur; what do you think?
A: Determining causality of behavior is next to impossible, so it’s impossible to tell if the book was an influence or not. But it is a question worth pondering for the sake of learning from this event. However, in my opinion, given all the factors that contributed to the development of his personality, if the book was an influence, it was probably slight at most. But again, there is no way to test this hypothesis.
Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)