Critical Psychology


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Critical Psychology, despite being within the discipline, is critical of mainstream Psychology. It argues that mainstream Psychology fails to consider the unequal power distributions between groups. Those with a critical perspective aim to be progressive and consider critical theory and the ways in which power distributions can impact psychological wellbeing.
The concept was first termed in the 1970s in Berlin and Klaus Holzkamp is often cited as the theoretical founder. He viewed Psychology as ‘pre-paradigm’ in line with Kuhn’s descriptions of paradigms in scientific disciples.
Throughout the 1960s and 1970s the term ‘Radical Psychology’ was used for a time, and was heavily linked with the anti-psychiatry movement. Those with this perspective were wary of considering psychological wellbeing only on an individual level and instead promote the analysis of psychology on a group and societal level – this they argue is more likely to promote positive social change.
In the 1990s a wave of books from a critical perspective began to emerge and in 1999 Ian Parker wrote a manifesto outlining critical psychology. Parker stated that critical psychology should: examine how some areas of psychology are privileged.
This manifesto argues that critical psychology should include the following four components: the examination of how some psychological actions and experiences as privileged over others; the study of how psychology is culturally and historically constructed, the study of surveillance and self-regulation and the exploration of the impact everyday ‘ordinary Psychology’ may have.