Re-Examining Psychology: Critical Perspectives and African Insights

Re-Examining Psychology: Critical Perspectives and African Insights

Re-Examining Psychology: Critical Perspectives and African Insights

Re-Examining Psychology: Critical Perspectives and African Insights


Despite psychology's high profile, various aspects of the discipline and the profession are in urgent need of attention. Re-examining Psychology takes a critical look at some of the principles underlying the discipline and offers an insight into alternative psychological perspectives deriving from sub-Saharan Africa. The text is intended to facilitate a greater awareness in psychology of its own identity, and prevent the unqualified adoption of mainstream principles and methodologies by psychologists from sub-Saharan Africa and other majority cultures.

One of psychology's greatest limitations relates to its ethnocentrism and inherent racism, attitudes, which are conceivably responsible for the neglect or unawareness of the psychological dimensions operative in sub-Saharan Africa. In order to facilitate the development of psychology internationally as well as laying the basis upon which a formal African psychology can be developed, the text concludes by highlighting the psychological wisdom emanating from the ways of being in sub-Saharan Africa.


This book is an academic expression of the tendency we have to complete that which is incomplete. As pointed out by the early Gestalt psychologists we tend towards closure, to fill in the spaces where there are gaps. In the context of my involvement in psychology, the aspects that are in greatest need of attention relate to a critical evaluation of contemporary psychology and the neglect of the psychological dimensions indigenous to sub-Saharan Africa. Contemporary psychology assumes that it speaks for all people. Difficult as it may be for a discipline that has achieved a considerable measure of power and prestige to accept, this simply is not the case.

Moreover, the discipline can benefit greatly from indigenous perspectives other than its own. As has been indicated in sensory neurophysiology, contrast sharpens perceptual acuity. The same truth undoubtedly also holds with respect to juxtaposing African and Western approaches to human behaviour. The concern expressed by mainstream commentators about the orientation of the discipline and by others about the ideology of the culture to which psychology belongs, warrants serious reflection. It seems unlikely that psychological paradigms can be re-examined without the re-examination of broader features of contemporary Western culture. Such reflection is needed even more where psychology is applied in the context of the majority populations of the world.

It is imperative that we practise our discipline with full awareness of what is involved in order to fulfil psychology’s potential to serve humankind. In its focus on the control and analysis of variables that can be concretised, the complexity of human existence is reduced to empirical expediency. Apart from the general disregard for the importance of the socio-economic-political context within which individual lives are contracted, the neglect of culture has been described as the Achilles heel of psychology. Knowledge of the cultural context is not only important in order to orchestrate the relevance of psychology for majority cultures, but also to facilitate the reorientation of contemporary psychology itself.

Several factors are in favour of such re-visioning. Not only are we entering a new millennium, which is of great symbolic significance for assessing our present position and where we want to go from here, but psychology is also showing an increasing maturity in its preparedness for self-examination. Since the discipline

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.