*Work in progress. Lots more to be said at a later date. *
Influences on my thinking on the subjects
http://www.midpsy.org/draft_manifesto.htm - Draft manifesto for a social materialist psychology of distress.
Thoughts on Psychology:-
Psychology must consider biology politics sociology history philosophy -basically it must be Holistic and intersectional.
I like Critical Psychology
I don't necessarily agree with all of ‘social-materialist psychology’ but it seems useful
I do think that while material conditions do not determine how you think feel and act they do strongly influence how you think feel and act and set limits on it
No one approach seems relevant for everyone everywhere and at all times- psychology is very contextual
“Critical psychologists have objected to psychotherapy‘s most common approach: helping us adapt to an unsatisfying world by internalizing problems and solutions rather than recognizing their societal nature. Psychology’s claim to be a science separate from philosophy accompanied 19th century Social Darwinism, which imagined and demanded a competitive, striving human nature for a dog-eat-dog capitalist world. It assumed rather than challenged hierarchy, patriarchy, and race privilege. Twentieth century psychologists who eventually became therapists encouraged people to fix themselves rather than challenge bosses, political elites, or dominant institutions more broadly. And still, today, mainstream therapy helps us function, boosting our confidence and self-esteem and maintaining our relationships so that we can get through school, get to work on time, keep at it one day after the next, mastering stress reduction techniques and ignoring any inkling that something outside ourselves might be at fault even when millions of us have identical “individual problems.” These culturally disseminated clichés have become part of our everyday psychology, seemingly obvious and natural and right (Fox et al., 2009).”
“Gross believed that “[w]hoever wants to change the structures of power (and production) in a repressive society, has to start by changing these structures in himself [sic] and to eradicate the ‘authority that has infiltrated one’s own inner being’”
Criticism of Mainstream Psychology.
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.
6. Ultimately reformism in that it advocates altering existing situations not abolishing them.
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.