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Social psychology and psychoanalysis on DD317

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Edited by Stephanie Taylor, Friday, 7 Jul 2017, 11:06

Is it just me, or do quite a lot of us share a sense that there is something in the air and we are living in dark times? Either way, both the Westminster massacre (terrorism or a madman running amok?) and the more recent Croydon attack seem particularly odious manifestations of humanity.

Because many models of (social) psychology these days are either cognitive or focus on language,  social psychology may sometimes look toothless in the face of such atrocities. This is an overly simplistic image of the discipline of course, and the recognition of the cognitively or discursively constructed worldview of humans is indispensable in accounting for their conduct.

However, the manifest irrationality of such attacks  seems to point to the importance of another level: namely, the role of 'affect' (emotion) and motives which may not be directly available to the consciousness of the agents of the attacks. Psychoanalysis is a therapeutic tradition that tries to understand such motivations, but it has also had a great influence on some forms of social psychology as well. The psychoanalytically informed field of psychology and the social sciences is known as psychosocial studies. You will be able to learn more about psychoanalysis and psychosocial studies, and how they can help us understand political conflict and violence, in Block 5 of the new module, Advancing social psychology DD317.

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