THE CRITICAL INSTITUTE
The Critical Series
Crises and Alternatives in Critical Psychology
A two day workshop with: Ian Parker (University of Leicester, The Critical Institute) &
Erica Burman (University of Manchester, The Critical Institute)
Dates: 25th- 26th May, 2015
Venue: Mount St. Joseph, Mosta, Malta
This workshop is about ‘critical psychology’ and how it links with radical politics. Psychology is a discipline that too-often reinforces power relations. We are concerned with developing an approach that will provide resources to resist power, and that means providing an alternative to psychology.
The course will discuss the methodological and conceptual ‘crisis’ in psychology in the 1970s, what has happened since, and prospects for the future. We will focus on the way that the causes of the crisis still operate inside the discipline today and how the consequences of the crisis, and the alternative approaches that have developed since, are also operative. This is from the standpoint of work in the Discourse Unit, which was founded in 1990.
We will trace an arc of debate inside psychology that begins with the methodological ‘paradigm’ crisis that saw the emergence of qualitative research in the discipline. We will explore how that ‘crisis’ made possible the gathering together of critical arguments from neighbouring disciplines so that a ‘deconstruction’ of assumptions could be undertaken. This deconstruction of psychology – of social psychology, developmental psychology, feminist psychology, postcolonial theory, disability studies, psychopathology and psychotherapy – accompanied and radicalised ‘discourse analysis’. This laid the basis for the revival of psychoanalytic ideas inside psychology, and a close study of the implication of language with subjectivity and what is now called ‘psychosocial research’. Interest intensified in psychoanalysis, and then encompassed a range of ‘post-Freudian’ writers, foremost among them Jacques Lacan, and this requires a transformation in the way we understand the unconscious. The work of Lacan, a writer who emphasises the role of language in the formation of the human subject, then becomes a crucial reference point for these new debates, and in this work we appreciate a connection between radical theory and practice, and implications for work in the clinic.
In this workshop, we will work collaboratively to address the question of ‘psychologisation’, and explore consequences of the way the expansion of psychological discourse, including conceptions of ‘mental health’, operate. We will discuss not only the barriers faced by those already pathologised by dominant cultural practices as they enter psychology, but also the obstacles placed by psychology (and the institutions that house it) throughout their career. The theoretical frame for the workshop is the connection between the ‘personal and the political’ which was worried away at in conceptual debate and practical initiative outside the discipline of psychology during the 1970s and 1980s. This has consequences for the way we address binary oppositions that structure our work. The workshop therefore explores how the opposition between the ‘personal’ and the ‘political’ disturbs and opens up different ways of reworking the relationship between the psychological and the social, the individual and the collective and a host of other frames for psychology. The problem lies not only in the assumptions that each binary frame mobilises, but in the way that the different competing frames map the human subject now.
Over the course of these two days, we will draw on the ‘social constructionist’ approaches in psychology and allied disciplines which question the truth claims made by academics and professionals about how our minds work and the way we behave. Part of the project of critical research in psychology that is concerned with the social construction of psychological and psychotherapeutic phenomena is to look at the broader cultural conditions in which we speak about these things. Therapeutic discourse, according to this perspective, needs to be analysed in the context of ‘psychological culture’. Deconstruction of identity in psychotherapy is in this way also turned to the task of deconstructing ‘psychologisation’ that sustains dominant forms of psychotherapy in contemporary psychological culture.
Erica Burman is Professor of Education, at the Institute of Education, School of Environment, Education and Development, University of Manchester, UK. She has published extensively in the areas of critical developmental psychology, feminist theory, childhood studies, and state and interpersonal violence in relation to minoritised women and children. She is an activist researcher and qualitative methodologist. She is known for connecting feminist analyses to challenge oppressive consequences of psychological theories, methods and practices – across developmental and educational psychology and health and social care settings. She has been involved in various feminist antiracist research projects on the intersections of state and interpersonal violence, as well the relations between culture, marginalisation and distress. She is also a Group Analyst (full member of the IGA) and registered member of the United Kingdom Council of Psychotherapists (UKCP). Erica is an established published scholar, and is author of Feminists and Psychological Practice (SAGE); Deconstructing Feminist Psychology (SAGE); Deconstructing Developmental Psychology (Routledge); Developments: Child, Image, Nation (Routledge) and co-editor of Gender and Migration: Feminist Intervention (Zed) among others.
Ian Parker is co-founder (with Erica Burman) and current co-director of the Discourse Unit which is an interdisciplinary networking resource for radical academics, and which hosts Annual Review of Critical Psychology (an open-access peer-reviewed online journal). He is Professor of Management at the University of Leicester. He was involved in radical psychology groups, including Psychology, Politics, Resistance (the newsletters of which are on the Discourse Unit site). He is interested in therapy (and is trained as a psychoanalyst), but is more interested in social change (is a Marxist). Ian is author of numerous publications including the books: Critical Discursive Psychology (Palgrave); Psychology After Deconstruction: Erasure and social reconstruction (Routledge); Revolution in Psychology: Alienation to Emancipation (Pluto); Psychology after Psychoanalysis: Psychosocial studies and beyond and Psychology After the Unconscious: From Freud to Lacan (Routledge)
The Critical Institute
in collaboration with
Malta Review of Educational Research
The Ministry for Education and Employment, Malta
Dates: 25th- 26th May, 2015
Venue: Mount St. Joseph, Mosta, Malta
Price: EUR 45
Registration: first come, first served basis- limited places.
All participants must register online
After registering, participants are kindly asked to ensure that the EUR45 payment reaches us within the next 10 days. Payment is to be made by cheque payable to ‘The Critical Institute’ and posted to:
The Critical Institutec/o Integra, Dinja Wahda’ c/o Integra, 124, St. Ursula Street, Valletta, VLT1236
More info: Please contact Dr. Shaun Grech