• Outsight: Psychology, politics and social justice

Outsight: Psychology, politics and social justice

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ISBN 9781915220103
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If psychology is seriously to address the despair and anguish that increasingly afflict us all, it needs to develop 'outsight'. It needs to stop looking inside the head of each troubled individual that seeks its help and turn its gaze outwards. The causes of distress are not to be found in faulty or dysfunctional brains, but in the often toxic family circumstances, community settings, the workplace and the wider social world, with all its inequalities, injustices and environmental breakdown. These are the true influences on our wellbeing, argues the Midlands Psychology Group, a collective of counselling, clinical and academic psychologists who continue to find inspiration and guidance from the thinking of David Smail. In this hard-hitting challenge to their own profession, they outline their proposal for a social-materialist psychology - one that is concerned with the influences of our shared, material world and how it shapes everything we think, feel and do. For too long psychology has served the interests of the exploitative economic systems that dictate the lives of so many people in the industrialised world. Instead, it should be placing the values of compassionate solidarity at the heart of all that it does. This book seeks to inspire that shift and equip the profession to question, challenge and even change what it does


1. We are in a mess

2. A brief history of the present

3. The ‘state’ of psychology

4. Does therapy work?

5. The latest technologies of the self

6. Psychology and the construction of consent

7. A social-materialist psychology

8. Doing psychology differently

9. Within and beyond psychology

10. Postscript

Appendix 1: the Draft Manifesto for a Social Materialist Psychology of Distress

Appendix 2: Establishing and maintaining a group

This is a delightfully challenging book about why and how psychology has largely failed to fulfil its obvious potential to help us understand and improve our world.
John Read, Professor of Clinical Psychology, University of East London

'We are in a mess’ is the starting point for this incisive analysis. In arguing for 'outsight', not just the traditional focus on 'insight', this book shows where psychology has gone wrong and how it can get back on track. The solutions lie not in our heads, but in our lives. The Midlands Psychology Group have synthesised their collective wisdom into a compelling argument.
Lucy Johnstone, clinical psychologist, trainer, speaker, author of The Straight Talking Introduction to Psychiatric Diagnosis and Users and Abusers of Psychiatry and co-author of The Power Threat Meaning Framework

What is clinical psychology getting wrong, and why?  An overdue, much-needed and scholarly critique of current thinking and practice in clinical psychology, pointing to useful and exciting ways forward.  Every trainee and clinical psychologist should read this book.
Anne Cooke, Clinical Director, Doctoral Programme in Clinical Psychology, Canterbury Christ Church University

The Midlands Psychology Group

The Midlands Psychology Group website is www.midpsy.uk. Its members are:

John Cromby is Professor of Psychology at Leicester University UK. His research explores the way in which bodies and social influences interact, focusing particularly on mental health, emotion and feeling. He has published more than 70 academic journal articles, and authored, co-authored or edited academic books including Psychology, Mental Health and Distress (2013); Feeling Bodies: Embodying psychology (2015) and The Handbook of Biology and Society (2018). He is a contributing author to the Power Threat Meaning Framework, published by the British Psychological Society’s Division of Clinical Psychology in 2018.

Bob Diamond is a clinical psychologist with Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust. Drawing from critical and community psychology perspectives, he has published numerous articles on developing more personal and meaningful services. He has also published several chapters on the importance of a questioning psychology (Being Human, PCCS Books, 2008). He co-edited Madness Contested: Power and practice (PCCS Books, 2013). As a member of the Midlands Psychology Group, he has contributed to various articles and special editions.

Paul Kelly works in the Student Counselling Service at University College Dublin.  He trained as a clinical psychologist in Birmingham, and was involved in setting up the West Midlands Community and Critical Psychology Interest Group and the Midlands Psychology Group. He was also active in the Irish Mental Health Forum.

Paul Moloney is a counselling psychologist based in the Shropshire and Telford NHS Adult Learning Disabilities Team. He has worked in the fields of mental health social and community work and addictions counselling, and has taught for the Open University. He is a founder member of the Midlands Psychology Group, and his publications include The Therapy Industry (Pluto Press, 2013)

Penny Priest started her working life as a teacher in East London. She first became interested in critical psychology during her own experience of being seen by a clinical psychologist, who mentioned the work of David Smail. During her training as a clinical psychologist at Birmingham University, she made contact with David. He introduced her to the West Midlands Critical and Community Psychology Group, which eventually spawned the Midlands Psychology Group.

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