random thoughts: on critical psychology

………….this may sound weird coming from someone taking up graduate studies in social psychology but i just have to say it. i always have a problem with psychology and its focus on the individual. its not just boring for me, but its also limiting to a certain degree.

honestly speaking, i didn’t plan to take up psych. im all set for anthropology. or perhaps sociology. but i got scared. anthropology seems so boundless. sociology seems so abstract. psychology, on the other hand, seems grounded. it has this fancy method of experimentation, vivid theories, and closer ties to the hard sciences compared to the other social sciences.

so i took up social psychology. which for me seems a compromise between psychology and sociology. its the study of the person, the environment, and the interaction between the two.

but sadly, even social psychology is obsessed with the individual (greatly due to the rise of cognitive psychology). the problem with this exclusive approach is that it tends to explain social phenomenon in an individual level, ignoring possible social and cultural explanations. and because the explanation is individual, the solution is also individual.

take the concept of stress.

an individualist perspective on stress will result to an individualist solution for it. so an employee who goes to a therapist to handle his/her stress will be given individualist methods in combating the problem. he/she maybe advised to take a vacation, adopt a hobby, or manage his/her time wisely.

but if the therapist adopts a more social explanation, he/she would be looking not just at the employee but at the whole organization that the employee belongs to. is he/she the only experiencing stress? or are there others? then maybe the problem is not on the individual per se but on how the organization functions. thus the solution is macro and not micro.

the individual focus of psychology in explaining human behavior supports the status quo of the society. its like missing the forest for the tress. it tries to fix the problems (like discrimination, depression, eating disorders, aggression) in a micro level when the solution may just possibly be in the implementation of changes in the social, cultural, and ultimately political aspects of a society.

we just cant keep fixing individual victims when the problem is the larger social fabric…………….


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