1st Edition

Critical Realism for Psychologists

ISBN 9780367223588
Published December 5, 2019 by Routledge
228 Pages

USD $46.95

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Book Description

This is the first dedicated text to explain and explore the utility of critical realism for psychologists, offering it as a helpful middle ground between positivism and postmodernism.

By introducing its basic concepts, Pilgrim explains critical realism to psychologists and shows how the interface between the natural and social worlds, and the internal and external, can be used to examine human life. This both/and aspect of human life is important in another sense: we are both determined and determining beings, making choices but within the material constraints of both our bodies and the social context of our unique existence. The book offers an exploration of academic and applied psychology with that inward and outward curiosity in mind, beginning with the premise that both inner and outer reality are the legitimate interest of psychologists. In doing so, it shows how critical realism endorses the remaining advantages of positivism and postmodernism, while discarding their philosophical errors.

A range of case studies are presented to show how psychologists can use critical realism when working with real life problems, as researchers or practitioners.

Table of Contents




1. The utility of critical realism

2. The limits of naïve realism

3. The limits of postmodernism

4. Do we exist as individuals?

5. Does the brain cause behaviour?

6. Does life gone on within you and without you?

7. Is child sexual abuse a moral panic?

8. How do know if a person has been tortured?

9. Why do we protest (sometimes)?

10. How has psychiatric diagnosis both failed and survived?

11. Why was psychoanalysis marginalised?

12. The possibility of a critical realist human science



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David Pilgrim is Honorary Professor of Health and Social Policy at the University of Liverpool, UK, and Visiting Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Southampton, UK.