For the Media

Dr. Johnston is available for radio or television interviews and also as a guest blogger on appropriate sites. He can address either the general question of what hope for the future necessarily depends on, or engage more specific topics for which culturally mature perspective provides important insight.

A more general interview/discussion would focus on making sense of our times and what the future will require of us. Dr. Johnston would address how it is that many of the most important challenges of our times require new human capacities—in the end, a critical “growing up” as a species. He might also talk about ways in which needed changes are already happening, and discuss how, when we are ready for them, these changes can seem surprisingly straightforward, indeed ike common sense. The interview would become a shared examination of the “new common sense” on which our future depends.

If time is very limited, Dr. Johnston would touch on a handful of essential challenges and needed new capacities as quick bullet points. With more time, he might fill out several, describe where we have made progress, and touch on some of the dangerous consequences if we fail to successfully address them.

An interview/discussion that focused on a particular new challenge and the new capacities it will require could choose from many examples depending on the interviewers interests. Below are illustrations of more specific potential interview/blog topics. Each example includes a brief quote from Hope and the Future. It also includes a link to a more detailed discussion of that topic that suggests directions an interview about it might take. The Cultural Maturity blog ( provides further examples of topics that particular interviewers might find of special concern:

Beyond “Evil Empires:” A key theme in Cultural Maturity’s “growing up” is a newfound ability to step beyond ideological easy answers. The most dramatic example concerns our past need for enemies. From Hope and the Future: “Since our species’ earliest beginnings, we humans have divided our worlds into “chosen people” and “evil others.” We’ve viewed people like ourselves as in some way special, and projected the less pleasant parts of ourselves onto our neighbors. If this “chosen people/evil other” dynamic is biologically hardwired, it is difficult to be optimistic. Combine ‘chosen people/evil other’ thinking with today’s readily available weapons of mass destruction and our future does not look bright. But as it turns out, this dynamic is just as much psychological as it is biological. It is also the case that we have already made important progress in getting beyond it.” The example is most obviously important because it suggests that what might otherwise seem a dead-end circumstance can be avoided. But, in addition, it provides some of the best evidence that Cultural Maturity’s changes are not just possible, but beginning to be realized. (

Limits and Climate Change:  Cultural Maturity makes us more accepting of the fact of real limits. The book looks at climate change as one example of where real limits confront us and also to illustrate how ideology can get in the way of acknowledging limits. From Hope and the Future: “When I meet people who use the observation that we can’t know for certain whether global warming is real to justify not responding to the climate change threat, I will often first agree that we can’t know for sure, and then ask a couple of simple questions. I ask them what they think the odds are that, in fact, human-caused climate change is real. (I make them commit to a number.) I then ask them how they feel about their children playing Russian roulette. Few people are willing to claim that the odds of global warming being real and significant are less than Russian roulette’s one in six. And those who claim that the odds are less than this have a very hard time escaping the conclusion that their beliefs have more to do with ideology than reasoned evaluation.” The book addresses how the ideological beliefs not just of a climate change deniers, but also of those who are most ready to accept that global warming is real, get in the way of the mature risk assessment that making good decisions in the face of climate change will require. (

Spiraling Health Care Costs: Hope and the Future describes how the health care debate to this point ignores the hard questions on which the possibility of real cost containment depends. Spiraling costs are in the end of product of modern medicine’s great success and ever-more expensive treatment. The book examines how, if we are not to spend an ever-increasing percentage of resources on health care, we must somehow restrict availability of care. Neither the political left nor the political right has faced up to this fact–and for a very understandable reason. From Hope and the Future: “Restricting care in this way puts before us a whole new order of ethical challenge. At the least, not providing care when we have effective care to offer calls into question modern medicine’s defeat-disease-at-any-cost heroic mythology. But the challenge is deeper. Restricting care demands a new relationship to the most taboo of topics: our human mortality. Medicine has always been about life-and-death decisions. But limiting care demands in effect the conscious choosing of death—at least in the sense of withholding care that might delay death’s arrival. Good long-term health care polity will require a maturity in our relationship with death not before necessary, nor, I would argue, within our human capacity to handle. Putting an end to spiraling costs will make other death-related hot-button issues like abortion and assisted suicide look like child’s play.” (’s-ultimate-limit—death/)

A New Stage in the Story of Love:  As a psychiatrist, the way Cultural Maturity makes possible an important new stage in how we think about love—and in the end, relationships of all sorts—is one of its most fascinating aspects.  This evolution in how we as individuals relate also provide some of the clearest evidence for the concept of Cultural Maturity.  Increasingly it is reshaping our lives whether we recognize it or not. From Hope and the Future: “The Modern Age Romeo and Juliet ideal is not only not some final ideal, in fact it represents something quite difference than what we most often assume it is about. We tend to think of romantic love as love between individuals. Modern romantic love did take us an important step toward individual choice beyond the more traditional practice of having mates chosen by families or matchmakers. But in the sense of love between two whole people, romantic love is not about loving as individuals. It is two-halves-make-a-whole love. The bond is created through the projection of parts of ourselves. With romantic love we mythologize the other, making that person our answer, our brave knight or fair lady, our completion (or, at less pleasant moments, the great cause of our suffering).” Cultural Maturity invites the possibility of more mature—more whole-person—human bonds in all parts of our lives. (—the-future-of-love/)

Beyond Partisan Pettiness:  One of the place where we witness the most striking lack of culturally mature leadership today is also where we might appropriately most hope it would thrive: in the halls of government. At some level we recognize this is the case even if Cultural Maturity is not a familiar notion. We get that partisan pettiness seems to draw ultimately on the worst of adolescent impulses. From Hope and the Future: “In the end, bringing greater maturity to the halls of government will be essential not just to good future decision making, but to the effective future functioning of government. This is so for a simple reason—the important questions before us are all systemic in nature. We tend to the think of opposing political worldviews as rationally arrived at differences of opinion. More accurately, they represent predictably opposed polarized positions within larger systemic realities. To address today’s critical question—indeed simply to ask these questions in ultimately useful ways—we must come to think about them in more encompassing ways.”  Cultural Maturity’s change make this possible. The concept of Cultural Mature also suggests s a related, particularly provocative conclusion. It proposes that modern “government by the people” represents not the ideal and endpoint we have tended to assume. Hope and the Future describes how government as we have known it represents just one stage in governance’s evolution, and how further stages predictably lie ahead. More systemic, “post-partisan” debate is something a next stage in the story of governance should bring with it. Greater agreement in debate would not necessarily be the result—culturally mature perspective is able to take into account greater difference of opinion. But we should expect debate to produce more useful and creative outcomes. (—an-abject-failure-of-leadership/)

Redefining Progress: The concept of Cultural Maturity challenges us to fundamentally rethink human advancement. Our modern “onward and upward” notion of progress fails us most obviously with the need to confront environmental limits. Economic limits understood broadly provide a further layer to the argument. Increasingly we recognize how a solely material yardstick is inadequate for measuring the health of societies or even the stability of economies. But there is an even more basic kind of limit that at once intractably blocks our way and suggests a way forward. From Hope and the Future: “The concept of Cultural Maturity describes how continuing to cling to the past’s onward-and-upward narrative would sever us from key aspects of ourselves in ways that could have only disastrous consequences.” The book describes why this so and examines the house-of-cards reality that inherently results. It goes on to propose that usual thinking restricts us to three ultimately unhelpful options: going forward as before, collapsing, or going back and to describe how Cultural Maturity’s more systemic result provides a further option—and perhaps the only real option. Hope and the Future argues that “Cultural Maturity, or something that can provide a similar kind of maturely integrative result becomes the only game in town.” (—limits-to-our-old-definition/)

Arrangements for an interview with Dr. Johnston can made by email at or by phone at 206-526-8562206-526-8562.