“Psychological Know-How: Self-Help?”
Echo and Narcissus by John Waterhouse (1903)
“Psychology is very often how societies avoid looking in the mirror”.
Davies, William. The Happiness Industry: How the Government and Big Business Sold Us Well-Being. London and New York: Verso, 2016, 10
Psychological and neuropsychological explanations of human experience are prolific in contemporary culture: from pictures of brains lighting up in our newspapers, to online quizzes that establish whether we are introverted or extroverted, to mood tracking apps. In this lecture, I will problematise these explanations by showing a puzzle at the heart of the psychological project: the individual is positioned as solely responsible for her own problems, yet to solve ‘her own’ problems she must invest in psychological expertise, tools and techniques. To address this conundrum, as well as point towards a different way to understand what it means to be human, I will offer a brief history of the psychologisation of human experience as an incongruous extension of modern science into the domain of human affairs.
Recommended reading (this can be accessed online via Canadian Medical Association Journal): Shea, Sarah E. et al. “Pathology in the Hundred Acre Wood: A Neurodevelopmental Perspective on A. A. Milne.” Research of the Holiday Kind. 12 (2000), 1557–1559