Postmodernism and Psychology


What is Postmodern Psychology?

This is not an easy question to answer. First, it should be acknowledged that this web site mostly provides one primary view on postmodern psychology -- my view on postmodern psychology. However, in being a good postmodernist I try to present resources on many different perspectives on postmodernism. I will also try to place links to other sites which may provide different perspectives on postmodernism.

A primary assumption I make in my approach this topic is that it is more accurate to discussion the postmodern philosophies rather than postmodernism (see Richards & Bergin, 1997). This provides the first major challenge to defining postmodern psychology. Let me propose that there are at least 2 broad categories to postmodern psychology.

First, there is the deconstructivist postmodern approach. A primary focus is critiquing and deconstructing modernism. This is largely a reactionary approach that lacks a formal, constructive epistemology. As I have argued elsewhere, many people have misunderstood these deconstructive approaches as the only approach to postmodernism (Hoffman, Hoffman, Robison, & Lawrence, 2005). A second, more emergent approach builds a constructive epistemology built off the principles of epistemological pluralism. It is from this perspective that I write and it will serve as the underlying epistemology of this web site.

Building upon the assumptions of epistemological pluralism, postmodern psychology can be defined as an approach to psychology which questions the ability to know ultimate truth and uses multiple methodologies in its attempts to know. Use of any singular approach to knowing is viewed with suspicion and assumed to generally oversimplify the complex reality which is a more accurate view of the world.

Why a Web site on Postmodern Psychology?

My motivation for developing a web site on postmodern psychology is multifold. But first, this is not just a web site on postmodernism. As postmodernism tends to favor interdisciplinary approaches, so this this site is designed to incorporate an interdisciplinary approach to postmodern psychology. Now, I should answer, why a web site on postmodern psychology?

First, I found that more and more I was including information on modernism and postmodernism as foundational in many courses I teach. So this is partially developed as a resource for my students.

Second, I've repeatedly found myself in situation where people are curious about, but don't understand it. So this is a resource for many other people with curiosity about postmodernism.

Third, I find that many people do not have a very good understanding of postmodernism and the conceptions they do have are largely misconceptions. So I wanted to help set the record straight.

Fourth, I greatly enjoy postmodernism! This topic has long enthused my intellect. This began back when I was a strong opponent of postmodernism (with a great deal of misconceptions about what it was). Through time, I began to become more open to it and the better I understood it the more I found myself agreeing with it. I know all to well how complex postmodernism is and how easy it is to get caught up in seemingly endless misconceptions.

A fifth reason is the primary reason for why this web site is being created now. One of the classes I teach is the History and Systems of Psychology. I believe it is imperative for future psychologists to gain a foundational understanding of the philosophical systems underlying the field of psychology. This development of this web site is heavily influenced by my desire for this to be a helpful resource for students in my classes. My hope is that students will influence the future development of the web site.

Finally, I hope that this web site can influence the future direction of postmodernism! Yes, this is an ambitious goal, but an important one. I don't think postmodernism should or realistically could reach an agreement on what it is. However, I hope to help carve out what I think is an important perspective on postmodernism.

What is this Site?

More than anything else, this site is a work in process. I imagine it will take quite a while to get this site filled out. Even then, I hope it continues to grow and develop as I do. So please check back regularly and feel free to sent me feedback on what you see on this site.

How to Use this Site

My hope is that this web site stimulates thoughts about postmodernism. It is not intended to be the definitive guide to postmodernism and psychology. In fact, it is rather intentionally written not to be this! At its best, postmodernism is open to continual revision and integration into individual approaches. No two postmodern theories can or should be alike. If postmodernism is something may fit you, I hope this site helps you construct your own approach. I hope this site is never used to constrict people's understanding of postmodernism. Rather, I hope it opens up new ways to view and utilize this theory.

Completed 2005.
Never Updated.

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