What is a “liberation psychology”?
These points are an invitation to dialogue, not a set of precepts.
- For the last hundred years, psychology in the West has most often presented itself as a universal and ahistorical science, largely presenting local and Eurocentric perspectives as facts.
Today it is possible to see how psychological theories of a bounded individualistic and competitive subjectivity with fixed developmental stages leading to separation constituted an expression of dominant cultural interests…. Our efforts to articulate markers to identify liberation psychologies are an outcome of a local dialogue, reflecting and constrained by our own social locations, personal histories, and academic commitments. We welcome conversations with others with different life experiences as we struggle for clarity about the educational system that has formed us and that we simultaneously want to resist and revise….
- Liberation psychologies locate psychological work within a paradigm of interdependence.…Psyche, culture, and nature continuously unfold in communication through language, symbol, and image….
Liberation psychologies seek to repair the fragmentation in relationships, experience, theory, and environment inherent in oppression, through reconciliatory and transgressive practices.
- ….Liberation psychologies attempt to encourage dialogue, creative thinking, and utopian imagination where it has been absent. Through studying dynamics of oppression and engaging in practices of listening-in to differences, new venues for transformation can be created.
- Liberation psychologies recognize the importance of giving priority to what or who has become marginalized both in psyche and society….It is important to listen to and acknowledge voices that have become silenced both in individual and community work. Those dispossessed in a community suffer by virtue of their exclusion. Those defending hegemonic myths suffer the loss of silenced perspectives and histories.
- Liberation psychologies engage in practices of empowerment and participation that attempt to redress disparities of status in the world and in psyche.
- Every perspective is embedded in an evolving local indigenous language, culture, and history….Since we tend to be blind to normative cultural values, dialogical spaces need to be created where we can locate their context and historicity….
- Liberation psychologies carefully question who and what their ideas will serve in any given context…. Western psychology should not strive to be an overarching discipline that assimilates others’ knowings, repositioning Western psychology as a “center” and other psychologies as “periphal”.
- Cultural and intrapsychic spaces need to be created... Such spaces need to be participatory, welcoming image, poetry, art, dance, music, literature and ritual to express experience and to imagine alternative realities.
- Liberation psychologies value the inspirations and energies that emerge from imaginative, artistic, religious, and spiritual practices. Individuals and communities continually redevelop mythologies and practices of meaning to orient their lives. These mythologies are precious community resources, serving as a reservoir of symbols for future expressions of connectivity and strength, longing and belonging. As we move toward more homogenized globalization of corporate control, the particularity and uniqueness of every local vernacular context is rich with alternative visions of wholeness and sustainability crucial for survival.
- Liberation psychologies nurture longings for just and peaceful communities as acts of faith in the future.
Read the full article here.
Mary Watkins and Aaron Kipnis both teach in the Community Psychology, Liberation Psychology, and Ecopsychology specialization of the M.A./Ph.D. Depth Psychology program. Pacifica is now accepting applications for fall 2014 in this program. Join the Pacifica mailing list here.