A fundamental challenge currently faces Western society, and every
society that aspires to 'westernisation' which is the fact that even though we are materially richer than ever
before, the rates of mental illness and social problems continue to rise. And the more centralised the controlling
mechanisms of the institutions of government, education, health and law become, the more out of control of their
lives individuals feel, with the consequence that mental distress and social disturbance continue to worsen.
The Human Givens Foundation (HGF) was set up by a group of people who believe that the knowledge of how best to
meet this challenge is already available to us. This knowledge, however, is largely ignored, which creates grave
problems for society, as one observer pointed out in an interview in Psychology Today.
“What I really want, in case anybody is listening, is for the products of the last 50 years of psychological research to be studied by the
public, by everybody, so that the findings become part of their way of thinking. This is a civilization that is going down, not because it
hasn't got the knowledge that would save it, but because nobody will use the knowledge…”*
The Human Givens Foundation was set up to support a psychological/social regeneration
programme using the 'givens' of human nature. It fosters initiatives by those endeavouring to use up-to-date
knowledge about the givens of human nature in practical ways, particularly in fields where developing life skills
is vital, such as in education, psychotherapy, health, social work, industrial relations and diplomacy.
The work of the Foundation is directed at the following main areas:
to set up and administer centres where psychologically stressed or damaged people can be helped more
effectively than they more usually are and to raise the necessary funds to build, lease or buy suitable premises
and recruit and train therapists, administrative and other staff for these centres;
developing model schools with curricula that work in line with what is now known about how children and adults
really learn and develop well in life;
- advancing the education of the public in mental health care;
- conducting further research into how all organisations can work more in tune with the givens of human nature.
* Idries Shah interviewed in Psychology Today, July 1975.