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Critical contexts of pathology: deconstruction, psychopathology and dialectics

Hook, Derek and Parker, Ian (2002) Critical contexts of pathology: deconstruction, psychopathology and dialectics. South African Journal of Psychology, 32 (2). pp. 49-54. ISSN 0081-2463

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This paper endeavours to ask how one might rethink essentialized and reified concepts of psychology and psychopathology as they are represented and experienced in the domain of 'psychological culture'. Deconstruction, a critical mode of reading systems of meaning, and of unravelling the ways these systems work as texts, is the theoretical and methodological tool of choice for this task. The objective here is to critically engage with privileged notions of psychology on the reciprocal levels of both the personal and the political, the subjective and the social. An additional tool that becomes important here, in linking the internal and external deconstructions of psychology, is dialectics. Dialectics is a means of comprehending the relation between different forms of critique and the relation between different domains in which the psychological is worked through. Connecting the spheres of social relationships with individual activity, and the realms of political and personal in this way, enables a critical linking of the individual and the social without reducing one to the other. Engaged, albeit schematically, in this way, psychopathology may be approached as a construct that has been storied into being in psychiatric texts, that has been sedimented in practices which make it look and feel substantial and real. Essentialized in these ways, the abstract notion of psychopathology operates as if it were concrete, whilst the concrete practices surrounding it operate as if they were abstract. To sufficiently critically engage with constructs of psychopathology then, it is necessary to simultaneously grapple with the objective and subjective aspects of the problem, to engage with how 'normality' and 'pathology' function both in reality and within the subjective grasp they have on us as we read our own experience at each moment as normal or pathological.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2002 Psychological Society of South Africa
Divisions: Psychological and Behavioural Science
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Date Deposited: 22 Jan 2009 14:35
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2021 01:36

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