Thoughts on Psychology

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Keeping an eye on the diagnostic manual

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A useful website here keeping an eye on the controversial development of version 5 of the American Psychiatric Association’s diagnostic manual. The development raises a whole range of issues around the definition of abnormality, the medicalisation of psychological conditions, and the role of drug companies in pushing particular kinds of syndromes, diagnoses, and treatments. A case in point of the latter is female hypoactive sexual desire disorder, being pushed as a neurologically founded disorder in individual women best treated through drug therapy, with no reference to the conditions of “sufferer’s” lives, or the quality of relationships, or the performances of their partners; and limited attention to psychological rather than chemical intervention. Good news for the drug companies, bad news for women. There’s a great post on this here.

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Written by daijones

January 7, 2012 at 6:09 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Gender and determinism in the media

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The excellent Sarah Ditum gives yet another example of the news media taking evidence of some small gender difference, and then greatly inflating it; explaining it in terms of essential biological determinism; and criticising females:

Sarah Ditum on “girls talking too much”

The linked post does a good job of showing how media discourse mis-represents academic work, but something else in the original research struck me as interesting. The reporting suggests that girls talk about their feelings too much; an alternative interpretation of such gender differences as were found, and one that would surely improve society if it were acted upon, is that some boys need to be encouraged to open up about their feelings and be more emotionally literate, rather than seeing such opening up as ‘weird’.

Written by daijones

December 11, 2011 at 3:34 am

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Neuroscience and inequality

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Nice piece by Sarah Ditum here on how neuroscientific ideas are mangled and used to justify the neglect of the most vulnerable in society:

Pinkos and the Brain

Written by daijones

December 6, 2011 at 12:38 am

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“Compelling”

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20111104-032150.jpg

There’s a short review of Tyson, Jones and Elcock in this month’s issue of The Psychologist:

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.

Written by daijones

November 4, 2011 at 3:22 am

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Wakefield’s MMR study a fraud

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Not only is Andrew Wakefield unethical, the latest research published in the British Medical Journal shows that his original study, that started the whole MMR/autism scare, was fraudulent:

http://www.bmj.com/content/342/bmj.c5347.full

Written by daijones

January 8, 2011 at 12:40 am

Posted in Uncategorized