I am a Postdoctoral Fellow at VA Connecticut and the Yale University School of Medicine. I am also a Minority Fellow of the APA and past fellow at Sangath, an internationally-renowned health and mental health NGO in Goa, India. I recently completed my PhD training in Clinical Psychology at Fordham University and internship training in Clinical/Community Psychology at the Yale University School of Medicine and the Connecticut Mental Health Center. My dissertation, which was mentored by fellow IP member Dr. Fred Wertz, examined Indian parents’ experiences of caring for their child diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. For this study, I conducted original qualitative data collection in Goa, India. The dissertation was done in collaboration with a larger Autism Speaks-supported project at Sangath called the Autism Research & Training Initiative (ARTI; see publications). One of ARTI’s goals was to understand the local, indigenous experience of autism in India. Prior to the dissertation, I completed a phenomenological Master's thesis on depression among various cultural groups, specifically looking at the ways in which scientific conceptualizations and treatment models were “incongruent” with people's everyday experiences. This project was awarded the Sidney Jourard Award from the Society for Humanistic Psychology (APA Division 32). With regard to cultural work in general, I've published or presented on various theorists and philosophers who explored the nexus between culture and psychology/philosophy (e.g., Heidegger's dialogues with Japanese thinkers; Frantz Fanon's psychopolitical approach; and Medard Boss’ sojourn to India). My overall interest is in helping to shape psychology as a global discipline with local results, which involves a serious attempt to recognize ‘indigenous’ ways of being and to understand the relations between various spheres of existence (the social, the psychological, the cultural, the political, etc.).
Desai, M. U. (2014). Psychology, the psychological, and critical praxis: A phenomenologist reads Frantz Fanon. Theory & Psychology, 24(1), 58-75.
Desai, M. U. (2014). Travel as qualitative method: Travel in psychology’s history and in Medard Boss’ sojourn to India. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, DOI:10.1177/0022167813517942
Tsai, J., Desai, M. U., Cheng, A. W., & Chang, J. (2014). The effects of race and other socioeconomic factors on health service use among American military veterans.Psychiatric Quarterly, 85(1), 35-47.
Wertz, F. J. & Desai, M. U. (2013). Phenomenological schools of psychology. Encyclopedia of Philosophy and the Social Sciences. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Desai, M. U., Divan, G., Wertz, F.J., & Patel, V. (2012). The discovery of autism: Indian parents’ experiences of caring for their child with an autism spectrum disorder. Transcultural Psychiatry, 49, 613-637.
Divan, G., Vajaratkar, V., Desai, M.U., Patel, V. (2012). Challenges, coping strategies and unmet needs of families with a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder in Goa, India. Autism Research, 9(5), 190-200.
Desai, M. (2011) Travel as Qualitative Method: Medard Boss' Sojourn to India and Its Contemporary Relevance for Cultural and Consciousness Research - Presentation at the American Psychological Association Annual Convention 2011, Washington DC. PDF
Desai, M. Humanistic revolution: The case of Sangath and India, and On Sam Cooke’s “8 Bars of Soul”. Div 32 newsletter of The American Spychological Association.
Desai, M. (2009). Multicultural issues in psychology: Course syllabus. Fordham University.
Desai, M. (2007). Book Review "Heidegger, Rorty, and the Eastern thinkers: A hermeneutics of cross-cultural understanding" (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press). Journal of Phenomenological Psychology, 38, 278-316.