This introduction to critical psychology explores some of the key areas in the history and current practice of the discipline. It is an extremely well structured tour, aimed at psychology students, with each chapter bookended by learning outcomes, thinking points and further reading.
The authors identify the prejudices and assumptions that are the implicit basis of much of mainstream psychology. It is really brought alive by the historical illustrations, vividly illustrating the social context in which psychology operates.
I was disappointed that they did not go on to offer any alternatives; for example, any discussion of an explicitly black or feminist psychology, or ideas of how psychology could be used as a force for social change rather than yet another way of perpetuating social inequality. I also struggled with some of the subject choices, which seemed to be based on an assumption of a white, male mainstream even though in some areas of psychology, women are the mainstream; and sexual orientation is almost absent, except as a psychiatric diagnosis. It was surprising to see a whole chapter on parapsychology but no mention of religion, given the interesting ways in which it has been both the mainstream and the oppressed at different times.
These issues aside, this is a compelling and wide-ranging book that encourages the reader to look for the moral values and cultural assumptions at the heart of the apparently unbiased science that is psychology.
The book is available here.