Monday, 19 May 2014

Criticism of Mainstream Psychology.

Criticism of Mainstream Psychology
(made by radical psychologists)


  1. Claims monopoly on Psychology becoming too ivory tower and academic
  2. Claims to be 'objective' and 'neutral' as if being a psychologist does not involve you in psychological processes.
  3. Tied up with power relations e.g. drug companies.
  4. Often liberal/ victim blaming - puts the responsibility for problems on the individual and usually their internal state and then claims the solution can be found in the same place. Often ignores the environment or living conditions which influence people. Almost always ignores the political circumstances which influence people. Puts the focus on individual personal change rather than individual AND social change. Tendency to assume almost unlimited 'free choice'.
  5. Developed in a historical context so obviously is shaped by those in power.
  6. Has been and is being used for domination/oppression/exploitation by capitalism and the state especially. Tendency to promotes ideas of a fixed human nature which is inherently greedy/selfishish/uncaring/controlling/ anti-social etc which is to the benefit of existing power structures.
  7.  Ultimately reformism in that it advocates altering existing situations not abolishing them.

Useful figures and movements for the development of a counter radical revolutionary psychology:- Marx, Bakunin,Kropotkin, Malatesta, Dennis Fox, David Smail(Social Materialist Psychology) , Guy Debord, Maurice Brinton, Wilheim Reich, Bourdieu, Chomsky, Ken Knabb, Maslow, Erich Fromm, Eco Psychology, Situationism, Deep Ecology, Positive Psychology, Anarchism, Feminism, Queer Theory, Libertarian Marxism.


Some thoughts:-

Existing society encourages learned helplessness and learned powerlessness by encouraging consumerism, the spectacle, passivity and hierarchy and by denying autonomy and by destroying community, critical thinking and democracy.

Psychology is not value free. Just like in Sociology, to be involved in describing a psychology theory or account or the like the very act of doing so changes everyone around even if only in the short term and in a small way. It certainly changes the psychologist themself.

Improving ourselves as individuals and improving society CANNOT be meaningfully separated.


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