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Donna Haraway
Karl Marx



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Traditional Psychology has the strong tendency to research things that are not really important to the realities and needs of most people. Mainstream Psychology lacks a notion of society, society as a concept that is more than the sum of its parts. In the end a social psychology that is really a group psychology is the best one can expect.

Critical Psychology wants to question the self-understanding of established Psychology. It questions the "object of research", its construction, its contexts, the contexts of research as such, its implicitness and consequences.

There is not only one Critical Psychology. The common denominator of all critical tendencies in the field of psychology can be summoned as done above.

If one comes to detail, many different "schools" arise, e.g. marxist psychology, feminist psychology, postmodern psychology, critical psychoanalysis, constructivist approaches, postcolonial approaches and the more.

One thing that all of them share, is that they question the legitimacy of mainstream psychology. They do not simply accept its findings, but often reject them as results of a science of control and dominance.

What does that mean? The notion "science of control and dominance" refers to the fact that - if mainstream psychology does not reflect its role in society and the functioning of society - it will serve the actual powers. It will deliver them theories, models, and results that are not proved on their implications, conditions, and usability. This means that no question is asked like e.g.: why is this research important?, for whom it is important?, to whom it is useful?, for what will serve?, who gives the assignment and why?, in which contexts of power this research takes place? and so on.

A famous example is applied psychological research in war technology, soldier assessment and selsction etc. But also in the field of economy, mass media, and advertising the focus is not on the well-being of the people, but on their exploitability and usability. This kind of psychology functions under the banner of manipulation.

The aim of critical psychology is to analyse - and if possible to change - the conditions in which humans are - spoken with Marx - "downtrodden beings". The main question is why humans perpetuate a world in which people dominate other people, oppress them, exploit them, humiliate them, and kill them, instead of realising their potentials and create a real "paradise".

Critical psychology's focus is on the people, its sufferings, its longings, its wishes, its life concepts. It is about freedom, emancipation, empowerment, and not about the ongoing of a history of injustice.

With this background the theses on psychology should be understandable.

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(Read also the article "Critical Psychology in Austria")

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