By Derek Hook

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Or applicable copyright law. Critical psychology: The basic co-ordinates enable us to do this – to examine ourselves, to practise and develop ourselves in the terms it provides. More than just that, though, psychology plays an important part in generating and substantiating categorical kinds of knowledge about groups of people, about how they are, of how they act, of what their tendencies and characteristics are. Another way of making the same point is by suggesting that critical psychology is a critical awareness of how psychology locks us into descriptions of who we are, descriptions which reiterate and reinforce patterns and relations of social power.

Juta and Company. All rights reserved. S. or applicable copyright law. Critical Psychology We need be critically aware of how psychology is a particular way of approaching and making knowledge – what is called for is a critical attention to its modes of knowing, its ways of doing research, the procedures it uses in examining the world, and the concepts it assumes. Critical psychology is concerned with how psychology impacts on our identities, how it plays a part in making us who we are by providing the technical vocabulary and concepts that enable us to examine ourselves, to practise and develop ourselves in the terms it provides.

At first this was strange and alienating, given my largely communal upbringing. We had to master theories such as behaviourism, psychoanalysis, and humanistic approaches. Apart from being Western in origin, these theories take the individual as the primary unit of analysis. The context in which the person is embedded is ignored. For example, behaviourism focuses on the relationship between stimuli and responses, while psychoanalytical and humanistic approaches seek to help individ- uals to realise their innermost potential through the process of individuation (separation) and self-actualisation.

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