Counterproposition: Psychology as Discourse

  • Katherine Arens
Part of the Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science book series (BSPS, volume 113)


The brief outline of the accepted canon of psychology betrays the overriding weaknesses found in many modern histories of the discipline. Their continuities are provisory, and the assessments of influence incomplete or topical (as “x continued y’s experiments”). These histories, in general, do not address the conceptual underpinnings of psychologists’ works, but rather tend to trace back twentieth-century terminology and experiments to their roots. Even when they turn to intellectual history, they often overlook that terminology favored by the twentieth century was often peripheral to the core thought patterns of the nineteenth century in which it originated.1


Nineteenth Century Discursive Practice Conceptual Psychology Present Volume Institutional Identity 
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  1. 1.
    Two books on Wilhelm Griesinger are examples of attempts to correct such assumptions by placing their subject in his natural context. See Bettina Wahrig-Schmidt, Der junge Wilhelm Griesinger im Spannungsfeld zwischen Philosophie und Physiologie (Tübingen: Gunter Narr, 1985), and Gerlof Verwey, Psychiatry in an Anthropological and Biomedical Context (Dordrecht: D. Reidel, 1985). For Griesinger’s original, see Medical Pathology and Therapeutics (New York: William Wood & Co., 1882 [1865]).Google Scholar
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  4. 3.
    The term “discourse” refers to the developments in linguistics of the last ten years; see Michael Stubbs, Discourse Analysis: The Sociolinguistic Analysis of Natural Language (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1983). The perspectives of discourse analysis stress the inter-sentential aspects of communication, as introduced first in the notion of the linguistic sign by Ferdinand de Saussure. For an introduction to the history of linguistics, see Arthur L. Blumenthal, Language and Psychology: Historical Aspects of Psycholinguistics (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1970).Google Scholar
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    This aspect of Freud’s work had been noted by Mach, the early behaviorists, and perhaps Piaget. See William R. Woodward, “The ‘Discovery’ of Social Behaviorism and Social Learning Theory, 1870–1980,” American Psychologist, 37, No. 4 (April 1982): 396–410.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    See particularly Kristeva, cited above, Luce Irigaray, This Sex Which Is Not One, trans. Catherine Porter (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1985 [1977])Google Scholar
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    Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, trans. Robert Hurley, Mark Seem, and Helen R. Lane (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1983 [L’Anti-Oedipe, 1972]).Google Scholar
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    Alexander Mitscherlich, Society without the Father: A Contribution to Social Psychology, trans. Eric Mosbacher (New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1969 [1963]Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Katherine Arens
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Germanic LanguagesUniversity of TexasAustinUSA

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