FW: unscientific psychology conference

Lindsay Oades (Lindsay_Oades@uow.edu.au)
16 Sep 1996 09:02:19 +1000

Subjecting psychology to postmodern deconstruction, contemporary
psychologists and philosophers find it to be a complex interweaving of the
modern science paradigm with centuries- old philosophical presuppositions.
Psychology's core conceptions -- such as development, behavior, the
individual, the self, stages and patterns, rationality and irrationality,
normality and abnormality -- are themselves rooted in
philosophical-scientific assumptions about what it means to understand and to
know. The challenge to psychology is equally a challenge to the modernist
conception of understanding and knowing and its commitment to deeply-rooted
methodological- philosophical biases, such as truth, objectivity, causality,
duality and linearity. Understanding human life, some leading postmodern
voices argue, demands a new epistology.

Creating a new epistology -- an unscientific psychology -- is the activity of
making new meaning. It is an emergent conversation created by and out of
diverse voices who speak more poetically, culturally and historically than
analytically and taxonomically. It is a conversation about persons (not
minds), about relationships and relationality (not environmental influences
on self-contained individuals), about human activity (not behavior), about
narratives and stories (not Truth), about creating new forms of life (not
adapting to forms of alienation). What is emerging is an approach to
understanding human life as emergent, activisitic, relational and

The invited presenters are leading voices in this conversation. The
combination of rigor and creativity in their scholarship and practice is a
provocative challenge to orthodox psychology.

Erica Burman is Senior Lecturer in developmental and educational psychology
at the Manchester Metropolitan University in Manchester, England. Her recent
works are Deconstructing Developmental Psychology and the forthcoming
Deconstructing Feminist Psychology. She is also editor of Feminists and
Psychological Practice and co-editor (with Ian Parker) of Discourse Analytic

Lenora Fulani is on the faculty of the East Side Instituteis Center for
Developmental Learning and a therapist at the East Side Center for Social
Therapy. As a developmental psychologist and political activist, she has
been a key player in the movement for independent politics in the US. She
introduces diverse audiences--from community activists to politicians to
inner-city teens--to the postmodern challenge. She is editor of The
Psychopathology of Everyday Racism and Sexism and a contributor to Erica
Burmanis forthcoming Deconstructing Feminist Psychology.

Kenneth Gergen is the Mustin Professor of Psychology at Swarthmore College
in Swarthmore, PA. He is the author of three of the most influential
postmodern discussions of the social sciences: Toward Transformation in
Social Knowledge; The Saturated Self: Dilemmas of Identity in Contemporary
Life; and Realities and Relationships: Sounding in Social Construction.

Mary Gergen is Associate Professor of Psychology and Women's Studies at
Pennsylvania State University. Her scholarship concerns postmodern and
feminist theories. She is editor of Feminist Thought and the Structure of
Knowledge; and co-author (with Sara Davis) of the forthcoming Conversations
at the Crossroads: Social Constructionism and the Psychology of Gender.

Lois Holzman was on the faculty of Empire State College, State University of
New York for seventeen years. She is currently director of the Center for
Developmental Learning and the Barbara Taylor School (a Vygotskian laboratory
elementary school), both in New York City. She is author of Schooling for
Development: Some Postmodern Possibilities (forthcoming), and co- author
(with Fred Newman) of Lev Vygotsky: Revolutionary Scientist and Unscientific
Psychology: A Cultural-Performatory Approach to Understanding Human Life.

John R. Morss is Senior Lecturer at the University of Otago in New Zealand.
A leading critical developmental psychologist, he is the author of The
Biologising of Childhood: Developmental Psychology and the Darwinian Myth;
and Growing Critical: Alternatives to Developmental Psychology.

Fred Newman is a practicig psychotherapist, Artistic Director of the
Castillo Theatre, and Director of Clinical Training at the East Side
Institute for Short Term Psychotherapy in New York City where social therapy,
the performatory approach he founded, is practiced. His recent books include
Let's Develop! and Performance of a Lifetime: A Practical-Philosophical Guide
to a Joyous Life and (with Lois Holzman) Lev Vygotsky: Revolutionary
Scientist and Unscientific Psychology: A Cultural-Performatory Approach to
Understanding Human Life.

Ian Parker is Senior Lecturer in social and abnormal psychology at
Manchester Metropolitan University in Manchester, England. Parker is the
author of The Crisis in Modern Social Psychology--and How to End It,
co-author of Deconstructing Psychopathology, and co- editor of Deconstructing
Social Psychology, Psychology and Society: Radical Theory and Practice and
Discourse Analystic Research.

John Shotter is Professor of Communication at the University of New
Hampshire. His most recent books -- Cultural Politics of Everyday Life:
Social Constructionism, Rhetoric and Knowing of the Third Kind; and
Conversational Realities: Studies in Social Constructionism -- explore the
dialogic realities of the lifeworld.

The conference is designed to be informal and in-depth, with ample
opportunity for participants to explore issues with the presenters.

Participants: The conference should be of interest to a wide range of people,
including university faculty, graduate and undergraduate students;
clinicians, social workers, educators, health and mental health workers.

Costs: Conference registration: $100
Accomodations and meals: $215 (double occupancy Saturday night, 3 meals on
Saturday, 2 meals on Sunday)

For information and/or to register, contact:
East Side Institute
500 Greenwich Street
New York, New York 10013
Phone: (212) 941-8906
Fax: (212) 941-8340
email: esiesc@aol.com
On the Internet: www.castillo.org