Psychology estranged : mind, culture, and capitalism

Roberts, Ron (2020) Psychology estranged : mind, culture, and capitalism. In: Nehring, Daniel , Madsen, Ole Jacob , Cabanas, Edgar , Mills, China and Kerrigan, Dylan, (eds.) The Routledge international handbook of global therapeutic cultures. Abingdon, U.K. : Routledge. pp. 372-384. ISBN 9780367110925


Psychology sits alone among the professed sciences as a deeply problematic discipline sceptical of its own subject matter and consequently unsure of what its epistemological aims are. Since its origin in the late 15th and early 16th century, and its emergence into mainstream enquiry in the age of mercantile capitalism, psychology has sought to hide its shortcomings through a Faustian contract with organised power. For its enhanced prestige and infusion into the language of everyday life the discipline has written a big cheque – a cost which is extracted from the citizenry through psychology’s collusion with militarism, surveillance, big business, mental health oppression, and social control. Its primary oppressive functions are to support the expansion of capital and to depoliticise and pacify the possibilities for resistance which reside in collective social and cultural spaces. This chapter examines the past, present, and future of the discipline in the wake of the immanent collapse of the neoliberal order. Change is coming – how will the discipline shape up to perhaps its greatest challenge?

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