This volume, synthesizing over 20 years of feminist thinking, presents original critiques of mainstream psychological theories and lays the groundwork for the development of a context-based, feminist psychological theory.
Reappraising personality theories, Part I of the volume examines the limitations that underlie traditional views of human nature as well as the consequences of not taking into account the effects of contextual and structural forces upon human development. The initial chapters utilize feminist analyses of gender, context, and structure to assess the adequacy of the metaphysic in traditional personality theories' assumptions. Following chapters examine the impact and limits of empiricism as the dominant model of knowledge generation within cognitive-behavioral theories; identify Jung's biases, which are integral to his use of rationalism as an epistemic method; and demonstrate the class and culture biases implicit in personality theories. In essence, the limits and dangers of single-use epistemological approaches are illuminated, and fundamental considerations--What is reality and by whom is it defined?--are posed.
Part II focuses on traditional views of psychopathology, and provides feminist critiques of its models and conceptualizations. These chapters address current mainstream models of several large categories of psychopathology--depression, schizophrenia, agoraphobia, personality disorders, and trauma--and present feminist revisions for differently understanding these sets of observed behaviors. Eschewing the notion that psychopathology simply constitutes inner distress, chapters argue that in some cases certain forms of distress may be highly adaptive means of coping with intolerable situations and, in fact, may be appropriate responses to external reality. A common theme demonstrated in these chapters is that by describing distress as a highly individualized phenomenon, and ignoring the context and complexity of these entities, mainstream models are overly narrow in focus. Questioning the very foundations of our ideas about psychopathology, the authors argue for building new models that define distress in a more complex, contextual manner.
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