Critical Psychology: Fox, Prilleltensky, and Austin (2009) suggested that the value of neutrality creates a chasm between intention and practice for psychologists. They speculated that when neutrality is the goal in a data-driven and financially vulnerable field like psychology, the work that is produced is mainstream and politically timid. The conclusion to this dynamic is that no real change or progress occurs, but instead psychology simply reflects back to society the accepted norms of the time. The central precept of critical psychology is that mainstream psychology’s underlying institutional allegiances perpetuate marginalization and social injustice.
Critical psychologists declare that mainstream psychology is not self-reflective and is rooted in the subjectivity of its own practitioners, unlike other disciplines such as sociology and anthropology (Fox, Prilleltensky & Austin, 2009, p.11). Psychologists often base their research on a positivist paradigm as if their subjective experiences are outside of the truth they are attempting to discover. The long term consequence of this practice is three-fold: (a) The culturally embedded, subjective influence of the clinician and researcher is not identified as a mitigating force; (b) marginalized individuals and groups without the power and influence to create their own researched theories become the victims of theory that does not include their cultural norms and world views; and (c) psychology, then, perpetuates the pathology of certain behaviors based on cultural misinformation and fails to address the actual systemic issues of power imbalance and unethical use of privilege. The implications suggest that, until psychology is normatively critical of its own practices, including fostering constant self-awareness in practitioners, psychologists cannot and should not claim neutrality. When psychologists are not equipped to reflect their own perpetuation of biases, and are not supported collectively to challenge those biases and society as a whole, then the field is handicapped and practitioners are posed to break their primary oath to do no harm.