Liberation Psychology: The Psychology Of Oppression

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Liberation psychology aims towards people achieving freedom from power structures of oppression, but the discipline has in the past, not given much attention to oppression and its effects. Nevertheless, some views have been put forward to bring attention to oppression and social domination. This essay will provide an exposition of the psychology of oppression by using three main approaches, namely authoritarianism, social identity theory and social domination theory. It will also include a discussion of the psychological consequences of oppression for both, the oppressed and the oppressor, as well as suggesting possible forms of resistance against oppression and its effects.
The psychology of oppression
Firstly, authoritarianism is the tendency
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In the 1930s, Stonequist suggested a ‘marginal personality’ among those between two conflicting groups. This personality is characterised by self-pity, identity conflicts and insecurity. In the 1940s, Kenneth and Clarke produced research which claimed that black children suffered from ‘misidentification’, a form of out-group preference and identification. Also in the 1940s, Bettleheim claimed a form of defence among Nazi concentration camp victims described as ‘identification with the aggressors’ and both Sartre and Lewin spoke of Jewish ‘self-hatred’ as a response to anti-Semitism.
In 1951, psychiatrists Kardiner and Ovesey published a book entitled ‘Mark of Oppression’, describing the internal effects of inequality. They claimed that black Americans, who have a history of oppression, suffered from a range of problems originating from low self-esteem and aggression, producing anxiety and general constricted emotions. Fanon also described the negative consequences of colonialism in his publication ‘Black skin, White
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Firstly, it is not a psychological fixed state of reality, but rather a formulation which operates in discourses about such a state. These discourses dynamically adapts to changing contexts. Secondly, it embodies a paradox; claims of ‘damage’ and of strength. And thirdly, recent revisionist notions come mainly from among dominated groups, and it is these ‘voices’ which have recognised strength, pride and resistance along with ‘scars’ and ‘marks’
In an attempt to conclude the above views on the consequences of oppression, Moane (1999) suggests four main themes that apply to the ‘mark of oppression’, these are:
1. Subjectivity: referring to a division in consciousness, or what Fanon refers to as Manichean thinking - dividing the world into ‘us’ and ‘them’, ‘good’ and ‘bad’.
2. Emotional expression: strong emotions such as anger and rage are inhibited and constricted or denied due to fears of ridicule, retaliation or claims of overreaction. Emotions linked to anxiety and ambivalence predominate.
3. Intragroup relations: one of the most widely reported consequences of oppression is that of lateral violence; due to inability to direct violence towards the dominant group, violence is turned against the in-group (e.g. domestic violence).
4. Mental health issues: those who are oppressed are likely to report mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, neuroses, substance abuse issues, and stress-related
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