Re-Orienting the Vision, Theory, and Practice of Depth Psychology
from the Vantage Points of Liberation Psychology
In these four online lectures from 2021, I am re-thinking depth psychology from the vantage point of psychologies of liberation from the “South.” Seeing from these perspectives from the “South” helps us to better understand the Eurocentrism of depth psychology, including its relationships to colonialism, capitalism, and racism. Liberation psychology, rooted in an interdependent paradigm, asks us to mobilize psychology in our struggles for social, economic, racial, and environmental justice. In the process our psychologies must be transformed into transdisciplinary efforts to meet these challenges. To engage in the public practice of psychology, working at the community level, we need to be acutely aware of our own positionality and how it affects the psychotherapeutic and/or community work we are involved in.
Lectures 1 & 2: Frantz Fanon’s Life and Work as a Gateway to Liberation Psychology
Frantz Fanon, a European trained psychiatrist from Martinique, was excluded from the study of depth psychology for decades. Fully conversant with Freud, Jung, Adler, and Lacan, he used depth psychological concepts to describe the experiences of colonized people of color who had largely been either neglected or derided by depth psychology. He approached other psychoanalytic and Jungian concepts critically, challenging the Eurocentrism, racism, and universalism endemic to Western psychology. He emphasized the indissolubility of psychological states from sociocultural realities, including racism and oppression. In doing so, he argued for the linkage between social liberation and individual and community well-being. His work sets the stage for the emergence of liberation psychology.
Lecture 3: Paulo Freire’s Critical Pedagogy: A Missing Part of Depth Psychology
In Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Paulo Freire describes a dialogical approach to helping groups of people decode the sociopolitical context of their lives and to envision new ways of being that can mobilize people to join in solidarity to transform their shared circumstances. In the U.S. South, similar approaches were unfolding at Highlander Research and Education Center in Tennessee and throughout the South in public homeplaces co-created by African American women cultural workers.
Lecture 4: Martín-Baró’s Call to Liberate Psychology
Liberation theology was a decisive break by some Catholics from supporting oppressing elites in Latin America. It quickly spawned liberation psychology. Both committed themselves to a “preferential option for the poor” and to the creation of vibrant, joyful, just, and loving communities. Social psychologist, Ignacio Martín-Baró, carefully articulated the goals and practices of a liberating psychology before his assassination in 1989. We will look carefully at the ideas and practices articulated in Writings for a Liberation Psychology.