Marxism and Psychology (2016)

Introduction: Ron Roberts. Authors: Susan Rosenthal & Patricia Campbell.

“Belief in ‘personal choice’ conceals how much capitalism shapes our lives.”

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Profound, powerful, personal, and readable in one day! We have a responsibility to one another to read this pamphlet.

— Leisa Han

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Print copy

ISBN: 978-0-9959854-1-4
Pages: 60
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Table of Contents

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Excerpt

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Comments/Reviews

  1. The myth of personal life
    Belief in ‘personal choice’ conceals how much capitalism shapes our lives.
  2. What’s wrong with Freud?
    Freud advocated for the oppressed, until he switched sides to serve the oppressors.
  3. Mental illness or social sickness?
    Psychiatry is not based on science; it developed as a means of social control.
  4. The madness of war
    The wounds of war are varied, complex, and extend to subsequent generations.
  5. Marxism and psychology
    Human beings are social creatures, yet psychology treats us as isolated individuals.
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Introduction
by Ron Roberts, author, Psychology and Capitalism: The Manipulation of Mind

I have taught psychology and conducted psychological research for over 30 years in a variety of British Universities. During this time, I’ve become increasingly skeptical about what psychology has to offer.

Psychology is not a neutral science that produces value-free knowledge. Its practices, its ‘products’, and its aims both reflect and affect the wider society. It has progressively transformed the public (as well as our own private) knowledge of self, the world, and others. And not for the better.

The past and present history of psychology reveals a discipline in thrall to big business, big Pharma, the military, and the surveillance industry.

The excessive individualism that is peddled in psychology texts conveys the message that vulnerable, weak, or ‘defective’ individuals succumb to psychological problems – described as mental illnesses – that can be corrected only though industry-sponsored interventions. The blindingly obvious role of society is buried beneath a mountain of technical jargon and misleading research.

I am delighted to recommend these essays. Herein are a wealth of ideas to stimulate thought, contribute to a much-needed debate on the left, and clarify the need to refashion our society into a more humane and workable one. A task which is now urgent.

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“This is terrific! 

I was involved in a two-year “listening exercise” in east Vancouver (BC) for a community health centre. We asked each person in circles of between 7 and 12 people what changes would have the best impact for them, their families, their communities. At first a number of people would say “mental-health services”. Because I hear ‘Pharma’ in that phrase, I asked them to be more specific: social workers? Shrinks? Drugs? This shifted the conversation immediately to the stressors in their lives: poverty, poor and overcrowded housing, lack of public transit/child care/job security, etc. The changes that were needed then became obvious. And so was the fact that everything that is screwed up in people’s lives has been pathologized and transformed into a chemical imbalance in the brain.”

– Colleen Fuller

“Profound, powerful, personal

Susan Rosenthal and Patricia Campbell are clear and powerful in their pamphlet, Marxism and Psychology. One of my favorite quotes is

“Marxism and psychoanalysis cannot be integrated, because Marxism serves the working-class while psychoanalysis and its derivatives serve the capitalist class.”

My entire read was filled with a familiar, internal knowing – the analysis and critique are correct. Reading this helped me to feel connected to a broader struggle, and to see forces behind the myth that we live ‘personal’ lives.

This pamphlet took many shattered feelings and experiences I’ve had in the medical, psychiatric, and teaching spheres and braided them together into a brilliant root cause analysis of modern capitalism and its instrumental use of the psychiatric industry. It illuminates the difficulties we face in seeing ourselves as the collective that we are and in understanding our oppression and abuses as shared.

– Leisa Han

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