With identity) and otherness. As critical psychology challenges

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Last updated: September 21, 2019

With reference to two subjectspecific areas covered in the module so far, critically discuss with evidencethe importance of critical social psychology and using an interdisciplinaryapproach in further understanding the complexity of human behaviours. INTRODUCTION Criticalpsychology challenges mainstream psychology and attempts to apply psychologicalunderstandings in more progressive ways, often looking towards social change asa means of preventing and treating psychopathology.

The aim of this essay is tocritically analyze the social and cultural norms associated with two subjectspecific areas, this will be done by drawing from other academic fields such associology, criminology and politics. The subject specific areas I chose tocover include femininity (the female identity) and otherness. As criticalpsychology challenges mainstream psychology and attempts to apply psychologicalunderstandings in more progressive ways, often looking towards social change asa means of preventing and treating psychopathology. This essay will discuss themainstream views of both subject specific areas, then it will discuss crosscultural perspectives. When looking at otherness it will draw upon the mentalprocess of constructing the otherness and then it will draw on the historicalbiological and political perspectives on what otherness is how it helps usunderstand the complexity of human behaviors.  MAIN BODY Otherness(Constructing The Other) Accordingto social psychology, otherness is a question of “who is us?” and “who isthem?” and “what makes them different from us”, so to fully grasp an understandof what the other is social psychology is not enough to explain otherness as itis also a concept that has been identified in other academic fields, directlyand indirectly.  Psychologymakes us understand that our social identity is created though a three-stepmental process, social categorization, social identification and socialcomparison this was curated by Tajfel and Turner (1979), these mental processesinvolve evaluating others as “in-group” and “out- group”. The first is socialcategorization, it is in our innate nature to categorize objects so that we canidentify and understand them.

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In the same way we categorize people, thisincludes ourselves, we use this as a tool to understand the social environment.Some examples of social categorization include; Race, Job description, Genderand Social class.  Thesecond stage is social identification where we embrace the identity of thegroup we have categorized ourselves into for example a pastor, through his jobdescription is expected act a specific was therefore he will adopt andperpetrate those characteristics. Each identification holds an emotionalweight, your self- esteem will be bound to which group you identify with, andhow that group is accepted in society.  Thethird stage is social comparison, when categorization has taken place, due toour knowledge we tend to compare between groups.

Self- esteem is usually tiedto the level of acceptance that the group has, for example; a Black- Britishstudent in Northampton university may feel comfortable as it is a predominantlyBlack university which will make them feel more comfortable than going toUniversity College London which is a predominantly White university, this mightmake them feel like an “out- group”.  Accordingto the concept of otherness this breakdown of social categorization, socialidentification and social comparison, helps us understand prejudice, becausethrough social identification we identify who we are and through socialcomparison we create the concept of us and them. “Woman is the other of man,animal is the other of human, stranger is the other of native, abnormality theother of norm, deviation the other of law-abiding, illness the other of health,insanity the other of reason, lay public the other of the expert, foreigner theother of state subject, enemy the other of friend” (Bauman 1991, pg 8), ouridentities are constructed in relative to what we are and what we are not.  Asrace and religion are the major topics in otherness, this essay will discussthis concept heavily. Historically when looking at otherness it could be seenthat people who are classified as others are scapegoated, this is as a resultof racism, prejudice, stereotyping, power and agency.

The concept of othernessis a concept of comparison, it revolves around three questions “who is us?”,”who is them?” and “what makes them different from us?”. Psychology breaks itdown as in- groups and out-groups however when looking at it from ainterdisciplinary perspective there has been work published with racist agendaby academics like Lombroso (criminology) and Sir Francis Galton (father ofeugenics), and even Charles Darwin (father of evolution).  Firstlyit could be see that the constructing of other is a biological concept, Eugenicsis a concept that divided human being into, the “fit” and “unfit”, the conceptwas to breed better human beings through applying the principles of Darwinianbiology to human reproduction. Eugenics desired to eliminate the bad genes bylimiting reproduction among those concentrations of the bad gene pool.

In 1883Sir Francis Galton coined the term eugenics meaning “Good in birth”, hebelieved that charitable outreaches only spoiled the proper evolution of thehuman race. He believed in natural selection, he thought that by helping thepoor, by helping the sick, by building hospitals, that by doing this we werehelping to survive or helping people to survive who in nature would have beenkilled off through natural selection. This concept is a racist pseudoscience thatgives more clarity to the constructing of the other.

 Secondlyit can be seen that political policies with racist agendas constructed theother, Margret Sanger founded the organization called planned parenthood, shefavored birth control, not because she cared for women, it was because she believedthe wrong people were breeding; blacks and the poor and that there was a needto stop them for eugenics reasons, in the 1930’s she developed “the negroproject” which was aimed at limiting the African American population ultimatelymarginalizing the undesirables, also known as; “constructing otherness”. Avictim of this is Elaine and an African American Woman who was raped and becamepregnant at the age of thirteen, she was deemed “feeble-minded” and”illiterate” the government used power and agency through social worker toleverage her choice by indirectly threating to take away her federal aid fromher working class, old grandmother Elaine’s grandmother was also illiterate soshe unknowingly granted the board of North Carolina permission to sterilizeElaine which was performed whilst she was delivering her son, over 8000 womenwhere sterilized in the state of north Carolina alone. It can be seen thatpolitical influence is a driving force for constructing otherness, policieseven when abolished create a framework of the mindset of a human being.   Toconclude, the otherness is not just a psychological term and sociology term, itis actually a term used to cover up issues of race, power and prejudice. Uponfurther analysis, the concept of “otherness” revolves around three questions;”who is us?”, “who is them?” and “what makes them different from us?”. This isfar from just a three-step mental process, social categorization, social identificationand social comparison this was curated by Tajfel and Turner (1979) it links tothe belief that some human beings have higher value than other human beings,this implicitly means that the assumed better human beings/ superior humanbeings have the right to exploit the weaker human beings or less valuable humanbeings, this is the true explanation of otherness. Otherness cannot beunderstood through psychology alone and it is a requirement that it draws fromother academic fields and cross-cultural understandings of what then other is.

Humanbeings are more complex than a three-step mental process, the concept ofotherness stems from pseudo-science with racist agendas and political policeswhich is woven through history.   MindfulnessThis section will focus on western mindfulnessapproach and the traditional social mindfulness approach according to Buddhism,it will also draws upon the politics of mindfulness. According to Kabat-Zinn (2010), mindfulness involves “paying attention in aparticular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally” thecreator mindfulness, simply put father of mindfulness, Jon Kabat – Zinn is apsychologist who created MBSR (Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction) this programhe derived from Buddhism. This MBSR is implemented through MBCT (Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy). Stanley (2013) believe that the concept ofmindfulness is a parallel between discursive constructionism and Buddhist mindfulnessand shows how mindfulness is relationally and rhetorically organized as asocial practice. The core of mindfulness is obtained from the principal of Buddhist,which is a tradition/religion that concentrates on personal spiritualdevelopment.  Theconcept of western mindfulness is to make the mind “sit still”.

Kabat-Zinnbelieves that individuals should focus on the present moment and not the futureor past as the present moment is the most crucial moment in our existence. He identifiesmindfulness as a “sense of being” and developing the capacity for awareness aswe go through life learning how to think but not learning how to be aware. Mindfulnessthrough his eyes is embracing the mind, the heart, the body and humanrelationality with the outside world and it provides you with degrees offreedom to navigate life effectively, which allows us to live a very wide humanexperience. Conclusively western mindfulness believes that stress is a problemto be treated however as Manu Bazzano once said “Stress is partof the human condition”, it also believes that human being do not live in thepresent moment and that living in the present moment creates a safe mentalspace for an individual to improve their quality of life.

 Both western mindfulness is apsychological concept therefore to truly understand mindfulness, it would be imperativeto discuss the Buddhism, as western mindfulness is a cheap counterfeit of the Buddhistpractice. The mindfulness exercise essentially is the first stage of yoga mainlypracticed in Buddhism, it has been integrated into society as a form of CBTused in modern psychology, after further exploration of this ancient techniqueof Buddhism and yoga they came to the conclusion that it is not the challengingof thought content in CBT which made it effective, but the changing of ourrelationship with the thoughts. MBCT (Mindfulness- Based Cognitive Therapy) is a8 week therapy derived from Buddhist traditions, everything has origin howeverthe cheap counterfeit of mindfulness has striped the culture away from Buddhismand westernised it, colonised it and sold it, with the perspective that culturalaspect if Buddhism is not important. Buddhist also practice what mainstreampsychologists would call “social mindfulness approach”, the four foundations ofthis mindfulness is; body, feeling, mind/consciousness and mental objects. Buddhismis a form of religion or as spiritualist would call it a “spiritual journey”. Thebasis of Buddhism is the triple gem, four noble truths, eightfold noble pathand three marks of existence. Mindfulness is derived from the last three partsof the Eightfold Path Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, and Right Concentration,through Buddhism the aim is that in cohesion they work as a mental developmentto release us from suffering which main stream psychology has replaced with “stress”.Buddism sees meditation where MBCT is derived from as part of mental partdevelopment.

The truth is all forms of Buddhist meditation involvesmindfulness, hoewever mindfulness in a buddist setting is done with peoplesitting in shamatha and coaching themselves to as Kabat-Zinn identifies “paying attention in aparticular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally”, Buddhistmindfulness was about staying alert to the present moment and releasingthoughts instead of being chased by them.  To conclude, when looking at mindfulnessfrom the political and social perspective it is clear to see that, mindfulnessis something that has derived from the Hindu culture and in recent years hasbecome quite mainstream but for selfish motives. Mindfulness meditation is acredible form of cognitive behavioural therapy however, it is a temporary fixto a long – term problem as the intentions behind western mindfulness isflawed. Westerns usually find it easier to take what they perceive to be themost important part of things and strip the culture away from it, this is normalhuman behaviour, also known as cultural genocide which is generally associatedwith the west. To truly understand the concept of mindfulness it is imperativethat you understand mindfulness from the perspectives of Buddhism and not mainstreamwestern mindfulness  CONCLUSION Conclusively it can be perceived thatcritical social psychology is imperative to understanding the complexity of humanbehaviour, because human behaviour can be explained through more than justpsychology, the concept of otherness is explained through more than justpsychology, as other academic fields like history, politics and pseudoscience biologyexplain the construction of other. Mindfulness draws upon an “ancient religion”of Buddhism and uses as a form of CBT, as human being it is not wrong to desireto improve the mental, social wellbeing and awareness of a human being howeverit is very reductionist to say that a concept that stole its core values from Buddhismis (mindfulness) does not have religious and political values.

Essentially theuse of interdisciplinary approach is imperative to understanding what it is totruly be human and that is why critical social psychology is important.  BIBLIOGRAPHY (n.d.). Retrieved December 13, 2017, fromhttps://www.wikiplanet.click/enciclopedia/en/Critical_psychology Bazzano, M.

(2014). After mindfulness: new perspectives on psychology andmeditation. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. P. (n.

d.). Buddhism: An Introduction. Retrieved December 13,2017, from http://www.

pbs.org/edens/thailand/buddhism.htm Critical psychology.

(n.d.). Retrieved December 13, 2017,from http://en.academic.ru/dic.nsf/enwiki/4497 Critical psychology- Alchetron, The Free Social Encyclopedia.

(2016, January 18). Retrieved December 13, 2017, fromhttps://alchetron.com/Critical-psychology Kabat-Zinn, J. (2012). Mindfulness for beginners:reclaiming the present moment–and your life. Boulder, CO: Sounds True.  Kabat-Zinn , J.

(2017, March 13). Jon Kabat-Zinn and His Workon Mindfulness Meditation. Retrieved December 13, 2017, fromhttps://positivepsychologyprogram.com/jon-kabat-zinn/

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