Psychology, Reference and Education No Comments

1. Introduction.

2. Biography

3. Influence theoretical vision of man and world

4. Development of key concepts


6. References.

1. Introduction.

One of the main legacies of Martin – Baro is the humanization of the social sciences. In this paper we explore his life and ideology, their thoughts and their struggles, and intend to publicize their historical figure as a living symbol of the use of science for social change for the benefit of the peoples of Latin America

We have corresponded a seminar on the life and work of Ignacio Martin-Baro, a naturalized Salvadoran Spanish, lover of psychology, although to be fair to him and history, much more loving man, of justice, of the freedom and truth.

One of his ideal was to form a group of professionals that together could fight for the true practice of mental health, for this intensely promoted communication among American psychologists, performing together countless essays in psychology journals .

Your social formation, prompted him to try to uncover injustices and lies, abuse and humiliation. Which I take to be considered a subversive. Something that would cost too expensive in the future, when a November 16, 1989 was brutally murdered along with five other fellow congregants.

The murderers of Ellacu, Martin-Baro, Amando, Second, Ramon Moreno, Joaquin Lopez y Lopez, Elba and Celina were not only the army, or the government and his party, neither the embassy nor that celebrated with champagne his death … The murdered those blinded by wealth and power, or the desire to possess-crazy, refusing to understand the causes of poverty, injustice, social marginalization, plundering the environment, the delinquency, crime, corruption, disrespect for human rights, impunity, etc.. and resist, steadfastly opposed to any change, however small it may be, even when that change is the ability to enjoy playing with greater security and some peace in his conscience, his great wealth. (ECA, No. 577 -578, November-December 1996).

Our work is based on a review of several texts of Martin. Bar more collection made via internet and magazines. The topics are framed in terms of its theoretical postulates, his view of man, the role that granted psychology in treating mental health, epistemological influences, and later, in the comments, we conducted a from our beliefs and convictions, a brief discussion of some of the ideas we rescued as most important.

And in a sad and memorable morning of November all those lives were cut short in an instant, where tall trees by the fury of lightning, at the hands of a few mercenaries of death, docile executors of the orders of those unable to appreciate life and human dignity. (ECA, No. 577-578, November-December 1996).

2. Biography

Ignacio Martin Baro was born on November 7, 1942 in Valladolid, Spain. In 1959 he joined the order of the Society of Jesus Orduna which thereafter will be transferred by his superiors to Central America from 1961 to 1966 where he performed several studies in the area of the Cs. Social (philosophy, literature).

In 1966 comes to El Salvador where he held roles of teacher and school inspector in Externado until 1967 where he began teaching at the UCA. After studies in theology in 1970 began studying psychology at the UCA up his degree in 1975. Then, in 1977, a Masters in Cs. Social at the University of Chicago and two years later a PhD in Social Psychology and organizational.

Returning to San Salvador, the UCA is involved in various leadership roles within the University to assume the leadership of the Department of Psychology in 1982.

In 1986 he founded and directed the Institute of Public Opinion (IUOP), also participated on the editorial board of UCA Editores.

Your life can be described briefly by saying that he was a writer, teacher and priest. He published 11 books plus cultural and scientific articles in various Latin and North American journals. His first book was published in 1972 and addressed the social psychology: “Psychodiagnosis Latin America.” In the following books joined the social psychology contacting the Salvadoran civil war, Martin-Baro insisted that psychology should address national problems and should be developed from the social and historical aspirations of the popular majority. He taught psychology critically engaged with the various existing alternative social projects in Latin America, for him psychology should adopt a role desideologizador therefore questioned by the main theoretical models are considered inadequate to address situations of collective violence that prevailed in Latin America. For him it was very important that psychologists were opened to meet the realities of different origin to reach universality and therefore proposed that professional associations of psychologists should promote communication and cooperation networks of teaching, research and professional practice around the world so that our discipline could be relevant and capture the needs of the majority.

Following her interest in meeting common needs IUDOP used for information, through surveys, the feel of Salvadorans about several topics such as health and employment and democracy, war and peace.

This interest in the truth of the information and meet the real needs of the people brought him into conflict with the Christian Democrats and the extreme right. This was a reflection of the strong political determinants that prevailed at that time in El Salvador, leaving no outside influence to psychology and scientific work. Thus the struggle of Martin-Baro by ideologize discipline and awareness among the population about the conditions of poverty and to report on the real interests that existed after the war etc.

Ignacio Martin-Baro was brutally murdered in the early hours of November 16, 1989 along with their fellow congregants Dr. Ignacio Ellacuria Dr. Segundo Montes, Dr. Amando Lopez, Juan Ramon Moreno and Bachelor Degree Joaquin Lopez y Lopez. This occurred while prevailed curfew imposed by the Salvadoran army to the military offensive launched by the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN).

His death should be a reinforcing stimulus that drives forward the fight harder enriching ideas and arguments in order to continue the work of denunciation of the psychological effects of war and oppression of the people of Latin America, as well as active participation in projects aimed at humanizing the condition of the people suffered.

3. Influence theoretical vision of man and world

Epistemic found primarily based on dialectical materialism and the analysis of the organization of the social system.

Karl Marx, who raises his theory, along with Friedrich Engels, calling dialectical and historical materialism, which is presented as a scientific world outlook based on research that discovered the most general laws of development of nature, human life and cognition . However, to be considered a scientific materialism, must have a method that propiciase the correct way to access these laws, this method became “Dialectic” which is the method (science) that reveals the general laws following the dynamics and development of nature, human society and thought. (F. Konstantinov, 1988). This dialectic has certain universal laws that are real:

Act transforming the qualitative and quantitative changes in viceversa.

Law of the unity and struggle of opposites

Law of negation of negation

From these laws are derived categories of materialist dialectics, as a general concept, reflecting dynamic properties, links and general relations of the material world, which are extremely complex.

Dialectical materialism proposes a new vision of man and of history, in a constant development where progress is no longer linear and cumulative as had studied up to that time. The man has an eminently productive role of context and simultaneously produces itself in that context.

The matter is in constant motion and the bodies that constitute this area are interconnected and condition each other. This mutual conditioning is not only an interaction or a mixture of phenomena, but rather a union that creates new phenomena and is what allows the development, transformation and evolution of matter.

Martin-Baro applies this relationship between man and the objects from a set in a Latin American country, where most companies are run by capitalist-type political regimes and the man-object is strongly guided by the canons of the economy consumption and ownership of the material. This becomes the object passes conditioning make a mediator of interpersonal relationships that are participants in a dynamic oppressor-oppressed, for control of the individual with greater economic power and the oppressed then turns into a being alienated by lack of access the guarantees of an economy class.

The author integrates this dialectic to be done and psychological influences of social functioning in this sense color our cognitions, motivations, and thus affects the formation of our character as a people.

The dialectic is a process that provides a space of freedom and creative man, is the space to the revolution, understood as anarchy violentista, but revolution generating social change, dialectical leaps that will generate new qualities, best in a society. In the dialectical process applied psychology plays a central role will and consciousness, the role of unconscious processes is minimal in terms of motor and mental development our actions. In this theory confidence in the consciousness and will have a central role, either from a psychological and social levels. Man is capable of building worlds, not only guided by instincts that direct it as proposing inadvertently psychoanalysis nor requires it represses Leviathan for not being able to live in community.

Dialectical materialism proposes an awakened being who can change the course of history from his own time with the subjectivity that we print it.

This conception of the human being gives confidence, affirms diversity and not a conformist diversity, but that diversity is reflected in the multiplicity of ideological production, reflecting the unique individual consciousness. It is also true that in this theory the man is strongly rooted in their society, their types of social relations, but that does not mean it is absorbed by it, on the contrary, man and society are part of the dialectic and his unit are combined laws as in all processes that are inside and all nature. Man and society do not influence each other, are a unit that is moving and changing its shape is transformed, leading to increasingly complex levels of organization.

4. Development of key concepts

Psychosocial Trauma

“If human beings are products of history, it is obvious to think that this particular war story of El Salvador must be reflected somehow in its people … this impact will be characterized as psychological trauma … This trauma denote social relations alienating, to deny the enemy of human nature to be rejected as a partner and as such they even seek to destroy. ”

War has to be the defining feature of the social whole that goes on to become the most important problem of a society, and collapsing affecting all aspects of a country’s economic, social, cultural, political and also because it has a staff character psychosocial trauma for each inhabitant.

The pathogenic nature of war is defined by the introjection of aberrant social events of the problem situation in the cognitive structures of affected individuals. All of these changes results in the deterioration of the human qualities of the people (dehumanizing nature of war). The individual assumes violent events as part of a normal, which carries a psychological trauma, since the features that brings a war situation are: the polarization of relations, institutionalization of lies and legitimizing violence. Atmosphere that compels the individual to create psychological strategies that allow the sharp decrease pain caused by these conditions, but nevertheless, will not let you develop, integrate and clarify their experiences.

Then it is undeniable that mental health is impaired in war periods as this depends not only inside the individual, but also of their environment, that a mental disorder is not an isolated phenomenon, but is the product of a whole variety of settings human aspects.

Social coexistence.

“… The roots of social life in El Salvador are severely damaged. And how would not be in an environment where reigns the use of violence to resolve interpersonal and inter-group difference, where common sense has been replaced by the partisan sense, where irrationality drowns humanizing possibilities of contacts between different sectors and prevents the development of normal daily life “.

The company is the perfect social system, in the sense that it is defined as a totality of interrelated elements through an organization. The actions within this social system is called social order, and their maintenance is an effort to solve economic, political and ideological, which in turn result in the resolution of problems such as resource allocation and the problem of legitimacy .

According to the social structure emerge are the values that legitimize or marginalize the behavior of individuals. The problem of Latin American countries is that these values are not governed by a human evaluation, but rather, in terms of production capacity. The man is being invaded in time and space (demographic problems) and demanded to be wholly producer and consumer in an environment that is not identified as a human, biological and emotional needs that require social policy very different from that live. Importantly, capitalist societies tend to homogenization of peoples and this goes to the personal identity of individuals psychologically assuming them as unique beings.

We could say that social life in Latin America depends on a change in the social value of individuals, in addition to assuming the accepting and respecting cultural diversity assessments and multiple meanings of reality, a humanization of parameter values where the judgment and not is the production and consumption.

Proposals to violence

1. Train people in personal control and the development of skills and habits that will enable them to channel their frustrations symbolic or constructively.

2. Develop at school and at home a critical awareness against both social models that are transmitted through different instances socializing as institutionalized meet the demands of certain social roles.

3. Promote cooperation and social attitudes, especially austere lifestyle and solidarity, to strengthen the sharing and prevent the triumph of individualism.

4. To promote this new order of social relations that returns its entire meaning to each behavior and requiring each actor (person or group) to take the social responsibility where it belongs.

To approach the humanization of society must achieve a change in attitude, attitude is defined by the author as the predisposition of an individual to act in a certain way to an object, an attitude is thus a relationship between a subject and sense an object that is expressed in various behaviors. The man is in relation to society, in the dialectical unity that form, so education is a central point in the change of attitude to humanize society “Educating involves forming attitudes, educating for a new society shape attitudes involve new or amend existing ones. ”

It must reform or educate people to make their wishes come true fit your needs, so that they lead to the path of humanization. This education must give way to the awareness that is the personal and social transformation that the oppressed must choose to learn from their Latin American reality and history, learn from their personal and collective existence. This requires that people decide what to do with their lives and have the power to choose to ignore and false consciousness. Individuals must realize what are the oppressors elements in each individual situation in order for people to realize they can fight and act, because it is not natural conditions.

To this end Martin-Baro proposes using the media as a factor awareness helps to reflect the actual events, no ideological and political distortions that skew social knowledge, in order to allow individuals the proper interpretation , development and integration of their situation.

The idea of public opinion polls is to expose and make known the way of thinking of the different social groups that make up a nation, about their problems, needs, concerns, and political processes of the country concerned, to enter into the consciousness national objectively and scientifically accurate, as only a true knowledge may serve to create change and transformation projects for the benefit of the majority.

Knowing the psychologist.

“The psychological knowledge must serve a society where the welfare of the less does not sit on the discomfort of the most, where the performance of one does not require the denial of the other, where the interest of the few is not required dehumanization. ”

The psychologist has an important role to play, but before this you have to know, not so briefly the country concerned: their real problems, specific social and cultural needs, because psychology is used as long as it is not “a” general science or common to all places and peoples. So psychology must take a serious historical position and not stay in the Western ethnocentrism where discipline arises. This is a problem when applying psychological knowledge and tools as a Latin American village that does not have the same history or roots to Europe or the U.S..

In the search for solutions, the psychologist used to find the source in the personal and social never the case, being right individual and social knowledge of each person about himself and the world around you.

The psychology that do not open their spectrum of knowledge to the systematic and participatory Latin American cultural diversity as a people who have been colonized and militarized constantly makes the stay as distant knowledge of individuals individuals of their society. Assume relativity ideologies and communities will help us enrich our knowledge and be able to really grasp meanings of our own people, our knowledge will be identified with the subject of study.

Psychology must study how that power is built on relationships and how this form of articulation establishing intersubjectivity in forming a view of reality more or less common. In our context the alienation is a feeling common to many individuals and psychology should not overlook this. You should consider these alienating structures that influence psychological development. A discipline that must cease to be accommodative or refuncionalizadora to a system that identifies us. The alienation is a task that can not evade the Cs. Social psychology or less if it is to contribute to the quality of life of individuals. You have to open roads and looks, contribute their knowledge to intra and interpersonal processing, propellant should be social change.

The action of the psychologist in the field of therapy should be aimed at building a link committed to the patient. Its mission is to restore the internal structures that allow the individual to develop the experienced, and avoid being neutral, being able to feel with the patient.

In terms of motivation, the task in the psychological study, the author proposes a revision to the basic needs of man proposed by theorists, as these reflect its ideological stance manifested in his theoretical position. Psychology must propose a scale of needs not only in the field of individual satisfaction, but also address the needs of the individual humanization through social humanization.

The psychologist must terminate the review of the old theories or common ways of doing psychology, to focus directly on the problems besetting the population.


“Any society can be understood as a system, that is, as a set of related parts neatly together to form a unit. A social psychology is interested in understanding the behavior of individuals and groups as members of a system to examine what in about systemic behavior, ie, that which is due to the character of a member. ”

The systems have the inherent quality and defining, owning a organization or order, from which it generates a style of interaction between its elements. The definition of this order is in the hands of those who control the factors necessary for change. This is defined in the conflict of interests between different social classes that specify the confrontational nature of complex social systems.

However, the social organization goes through the crystallization of maintenance means the privileges of those who hold power and they want to say, but should not desmerecerce that other latent power that comes from the majority classes, that are thrown to the periphery system and that is a huge effort to stay within the system. Everything comes from one social order above, since the action tends to an order that makes efficient and effective, to which is generating or modifying their own standards, which follows the historic character of the established order, but do not forget the fact that the rules governing the priority of action depend on the interests of the actors that are part of the social whole powerful. But the notion of structural change suggests the possibility that the classes are not entitled to become dominant because dialectical transformations that operate. This nourishes the hope of improving the living conditions of a large number of homeless.

“To reach a certain stage of development, the material productive forces of society come into conflict with the existing relations of production, or, which is the legal expression of this, with the property relations within which they have work hitherto. From forms of development of the productive forces these relations turn into their fetters. Then begins an epoch of social revolution. Changing revolutionizes the economic base, more or less rapidly, the whole immense superstructure it “(Marx, 1859/1969, p. 187-188)

The order to which Martin-Baro refers involves the appearance of three times in the composition: Outsourcing, which has to do with the activity that lead to habituation to its institutionalization. The objectification is experimentation as external outsourced product of human activity that people do. Internalization, which is the process by which each individual takes responsibility for ongoing institutionalized routines in a particular social system.


“Power is a reality in all areas of human life and plays an essential role in determining the ways of being and acting of individuals and groups.”

The power is present in each of our actions and domains of action, in so far as it constitutes the modulator forms of being and doing of people and groups, either mediately shaping the resulting social whole balance confrontation of forces in the interest group, or immediately in physical or psychological coercion. Even when the power is given in all relationships, regulating their direction, tends to hide. Thus for example, the sale may be a product of power implicit, in that it involves the difficulty of being identified individuals in relationships, institutions, the modus operandi of their society, while unknown production mode the web of power that governs the legitimacy of their value system. The awareness is canceled before the distortion and manipulation of information, and in addition to the action on television mermadora. The institutional management by not allowing assimilate powerful role of individuals in your system, canceling your action.

Exercising power is to seek a relationship domain of another relationship that influences involved, defining the entire interaction. Psychology must study how that power is articulated in the relationship.

The why of accepting the domain has to do to comply with a rule imposed on the certainty that the exercise of power is something external, alien to what is and is capable of. In addition, part of this acceptance is due to the influence of the group over the individual who wants to feel accepted, or to accept impositions derived from the role that is assigned to them by means of socialization, regardless of many Sometimes the sense of responsibility of the individual to his action.

The dissatisfaction with the domination is attributed to be a symptom of an imbalance or mismatch between the aspirations of society and media advocates or gives possibilities to reach.

Of course, the criteria used to distinguish between the conformist and desconformista is performed and sets from the power, so anyone who owns a substantial share of power can avoid social sanction, while the subject has not enough power can not avoid it.


“The term group applies to very different social entities, both quantitatively and qualitatively. According to Merton, a group consisting of a number of people who interact with each other by means of preset patterns. Instead a community is a group of people who share values and rules, but do not interact, and social categories are those occupants of a social status that have similar characteristics, but do not interact or follow the same rules ”

The group is a set of people who interact with each other under a sustained organization based on common goals, which will give your address, it starts in the inner conjugation implied forces in their relations, which are articulated in the power of the actors in a group with certain defining characteristics that lead to a group behavior.

The group in turn is held in support and interdependence motivations, in this sense it can be argued that the needs that lead to these shared motivations are those that define the character of the group and help to generate stable patterns of interaction.

To study these groups, include the group reality as such, even when considering the groups are quantitatively different and encompass essentially historical character, as it reveals the course of its development and the keys to its internal dynamics. The identity, power and activity of a group are aspects that are evident in the action with other groups where the difference is essential to self-assessment and definition, giving rise to inter-nesting consciousness that is extremely important in cohesion, self in terms of goals, values, objectives and identification. Furthermore, these dimensions group give rise to a typology that distinguishes between groups “primary”; those related to interpersonal bonds (face to face) and generate a feeling of close social unit, and provides through its activity, a bonding functional complementarity and its members becomes interdependent. Groups “functional” roles related to those which arise from the division of social work and respond to the dominant interests in each particular historical order, and Groups “structural”, which are related to the objective interests, derivatives production means.


The organization of social systems must combine in her womb the driving force of change, in terms of the contradictions that arise in their premises and maintaining their sense limits, which should fluctuate between their ranges of motion for front constantly redefined their autoexigencias, assimilating dialectically inherent conflict development.

The elements of society are active entities, purposes, dreams, ideals, fears, ideas, policies, beliefs, values, etc.. that could well be summarized as “intentionality”. The making of individuals, is a do together, by all and for all, in which direct our action through systemic organizational configuration mechanisms. These pathways are imposed by operating social sectors have access to power, are necessary constructions in nature, but nevertheless, are distorted by the fight and preserve the interests of the dominant social classes. The awareness you have of social mode is a step towards the reduction of alienation, whereas the role of those who make up society is active and it is our responsibility to create or redefinition of the statutes that govern our actions.

The establishment of democracies respond to this need, choosing our own leaders gives us the idea to form a constituent part of the order that governs us, and that our interests are being obscured by the forms of social security that we have implemented pooling. However, our level of identification with the institutions operating, even in a democracy, is minimal, since the structural conditions are defined around capitalist socio-economic policies that do not serve the interests of the majority.

The impact that carries such a social order manifests with high rates of poverty, marginalization, overcrowding, dehumanization, strees, and summarized in a poor quality of life.

If we add the fact that the stories of the people of Latin America have been written in blood, and that this historical background is updated in social relations, we can visualize some extent neutralized character of a people, decimated, and psychologically disturbed.

All these conditions are unavoidable in the psychologist’s professional work, which can not refer to individual therapy ignoring the socio-political-economic situation in their place of performance. The psychologist’s action must be doomed to improving the quality of life of people, which in turn passes the betterment of the conditions of the social environment. Psychology must take a real commitment to mental health, in a system that hides their flaws blaming their elements by their failures, when the solution involves changes in the sociopolitical macrosphere, coexistence formulas dictated by economic interests flawed.

Understanding man as a being who produces himself and his company together with other men, assume a position dialectic of human and nature. The individual is constructed from the differences generated inside with the changes occurring in their midst. This dynamic implies the idea of progress, from current forms to potential ways for the vehicle of contradiction, this transit states creating higher forms which possess in essence denying themselves, in the sense that the result of a transformation is not the last thing, but rather it is the certainty of development that occurs with the sweetness of a memory and the joy of a promise.

Faith in this active man raises the need to support its development, finding gaps in the social structure that enable their development as members belonging to it, where the interests that provide welfare to a few do not conflict or overlap welfare the vast majority.

Ignacio Martin-Baro left us a rich psychology American wisdom, with strong social consciousness, criticizing traditional psychology, and developing approaches for directing the efforts of this science to the study of social sources which could be the basis of individual psychic conflicts.

Martin-Baro, attached to the materialistic theory approaches, combines his work in the spirit of this social commitment and the metaphysical spirit of ecclesiastical tradition, finding in man the cornerstone that unites both traditions. In this certainty, the author defines the relationship of society professionals, such as psychologists, with psychological well-being, physical and spiritual development of the same. Proclaiming that the work, in the particular case of psychology, must be set according to the historical situation and needs of the population, which implies knowledge of the socio-political characteristics of a given society, that shape the psyche of its inhabitants

6. References.

Baro, social I.1990.Picologa war. El Salvador, UCA Editores.

Baro, I.1989.Sistema, and Power Group. El Salvador, UCA Editores.

Baro I.1989.La Salvadoran public. El Salvador, UCA Editores

Baro, I.1990.Buascando Latin America. Cap. 1, “Opium liberating religious faith”, El Salvador, New Society Publisher.

Baro, I.1986.Psicologa, science and conscience. El Salvador, UCA Editores.

Dept. Psychology and educ. Americana.1989 University Center. Journal of Psychology of El Salvador. Vol 9, No. 35. El Salvador, UCA Editores.

Work submitted by

Boris Island

Daniela Ansaldo

Daniela Diaz.