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Critical psychology
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Critical psychology

Critical psychology is both a critique of "mainstream" psychology and an attempt to apply psychology in more progressive ways (based, for example, on Marxist or feminist analyses) and contexts than have thusfar been the case. There are a number of textbooks of critical psychology and at least two critical psychology institutes, in Manchester and Sydney. Compare: critical theory.

Critical psychology around the world


Critical psychology started in the 1970s in Berlin at the Freie Universität Berlin;, and the German branch of critical psychology predates and has developed largely separately from the rest of the field. Critical psychology here is not really seen as a division of psychology; it follows its own methodology. It tries to reformulate traditional psychology on an unorthodox Marxist base. The appeal of critical psychology to socialists is that it is an attempt to come to grips with the social and the historical "conditionality" of human beings. One of the most important books in the field is the Grundlegung der Psychologie (Foundations of Psychology) by Klaus Holzkamp (Frankfurt a. M. 1983), who might be considered the theoretical founder of critical psychology. Some years ago the department of critical psychology at the FU-Berlin was closed and was added to the traditional psychology department. Nevertheless, this approach of psychology is still alive.

South Africa

The University of KawZulu-Natal in South Africa is one of few worldwide to offer a masters course in critical psychology. For an overview of critical psychology in South Africa, see Desmond Painter and Martin Terre Blanche's article on Critical Psychology in South Africa: Looking back and looking forwards. They have also now started a critical psychology blog.

Like many critical applications, critical psychology has expanded beyond Marxist roots to benefit from other critical approaches. Consider ecopsychology and transpersonal psychology. Critical psychology and related work has also sometimes been labelled radical psychology and liberation psychology.

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