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Critical Psychology: A Realistic Perspective

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Globalization in the human society has existed for thousands of years. Historically, globalization related to the process of trade, a way in which peoples interacted with one another to obtain necessary or luxurious goods (The Levin Institute, 2013). With the evolution of technology, our world has become much smaller, from a communication standpoint. Media makes it possible to know world events in a manner of seconds. The culmination of a technology-driven global society has brought forth many of the world’s utmost concerns, from poverty, oppression, disease, natural disasters, pollution, environmental erosion, war, and other collective traumas. Migration of people due to these issues has forced psychology to begin developing beyond its individualistic stance to a more society-focused ideology. Teo (2009) contends Western psychology is a “local psychology” with little concern for other cultural traditions. Critical psychology attempts to bring awareness to limitations of traditional psychology by deconstruction of historical Western views and integration of the world’s cultures. But, is this radicalism with little substance, or does critical psychology allow us to desegregate humanity’s differences to build towards a more culturally-inclusive global society? Genuine Global Psychology

Teo (2009) described internalization as two distinct possibilities: The continuation of the spread of Americanized psychology around the globe or moving away from American psychology to a more global psychology. Post-Americanized psychology movements combine the process of assimilation or acceptance of other cultures, and accommodation, the inclusion of cultural viewpoint. Global psychology needs to include a collective construction (Moghaddam, Erneling, Montero, & Lee, 2007) rather than individualistic construction. This approach builds on the Gestalt concept of the “whole being greater than the sum of its parts.” Rather than viewing individuals from mental disorders in a narrow vein, this concept encourages viewing how the individual operates within the society. While these concepts have merit, it is too simplistic from a realistic perspective, to radicalize how society ought to be with how society actually functions. Reality in Global Psychology

Humans behave from a phenomenological perspective; each person views the world from their own unique point of view. Moghaddam et al (2007) relate diversity in human perspective to controversy. People argue because of varying perceptions, and often, it can be difficult for persons involved with conflict to fully understand another’s assessment of the situation. Empathy, however, can be utilized to share experiences and to develop understanding. Conflict resolution must be an integral of global psychology, if those working in this field wish to continue to see growth and acceptance of this revolutionary occupation. However, this may mean acceptance of some Western ideology within the framework of global psychology.

Radical thinking currently in the building of global psychology includes critical psychology, which serves to work towards a more inclusive psychological field. But, the reality of truly making a global psychology work will have to involve the system, otherwise, global psychology, which holds so much promise will be viewed as a small group of neo-hippie radicals with little substantive data to offer. The global society in which the helping professions serve is based on a system of insurance companies, government agencies, non-profit organizations, medical agencies, mental health organizations, corporations, politics and bureaucracy, all of whom have a contribution and a large say in the matter. Critical psychology is just that—it criticizes the status quo, but offers very little in offering concrete solutions. Compromise is a more likely solution than rebelling against the system. And, it will allow further growth of a very promising evolution of psychology. Discussion

Psychology has served to better the lives of people, but as a field, it has had its flaws. From lobotomies to research without informed consent, psychology has grown from its days of horror and abuse into the profession it is today. The American Psychological Association (2013) offers 56 division memberships, covering almost any topic or subgroup in psychology from research to rehabilitation to international psychology. Furthering the field of global psychology was the development of the Universal Declaration of Ethical Principles for Psychologists (Ad Hoc Committee, 2008). Psychology continues, with the help of organizations around the world, to build itself into a better, more comprehensive, and approachable subsection of society. With continued lobbying from professional psychology organizations, including the American Psychological Association and International Union of Psychological Science and global health organizations, such as the United Nations and World Health Organization, it will continue to evolve, with or without the negative contribution of critical psychology.


Ad Hoc Committee. (2008). Universal Declaration of Ethical Principles for Psychologists. Berlin: International Union of Psychological Science; International Association of Applied Psychology. American Psychological Association. (2013). Divisions of the APA. Retrieved from American Psychological Association: http://www.apa.org/about/division/index.aspx The Levine Institute. (2013). Globalization 101. Suny Global Workforce Project. Retrieved from http://www.globalization101.org/what-is-globalization Moghaddam, F. M., Erneling, C. E., Montero, M. & Lee, N. (2007). Toward a conceptual foundation for a global psychology. In M. J. Stevens, U.P. Geilen. (Eds). Toward a global psychology: Theory, research, intervention, and pedogogy. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc. Teo, T. (2009). Philosophical Concerns in Critical Psychology. In D. Fox, I. Prilleltensky, & S. Austin. Critical psychology: An introduction (2nd edition, pp. 36-53). London: Sage.

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