Cybernetic Psychology and Mental Health
A Circular Logic Of Control Beyond The Individual
This book explores the cultural importance of cybernetic technologies and their relationship to human experience through a critical theoretical lens.
Bringing several often-marginalized histories of cybernetics, psychology, and mental health into dialogue with one another, Beck questions common assumptions about human life such as that our minds operate as information processing machines and our neurons communicate with one another. Rather than suggest that such ideas are either right or wrong, however, this book analyzes how and why we have come to frame questions about ourselves in these ways, as if our brains were our own personal computers. Here, the rationality underlying information theories in psychology is followed to its logical conclusion, only to find it circles back to where it began: engineered methods of human control. After tracing a series of recent developments in this vein across fields related to mental health, Beck highlights emerging psychosocial alternatives by incorporating recent work of scholars and activists who have already begun creating collective support networks in radical ways. Their work overlaps fruitfully with ideas from those, including Gilbert Simondon and Fernand Deligny, who foresaw many of the current problems with how information theories have been coupled with psychology and mental health care.
This book is fascinating reading for advanced undergraduate and postgraduate students across psychology, mental health programs, and digital media studies, and academics and researchers with a theoretical interest in the philosophy of technology. It’s also an interesting resource for professionals with a practical interest in organizing care services under the data-driven imperatives of contemporary capitalism.
Table of Contents
Introduction. 1. Towards a Technical History of Thinking about Human Thought 2. Cybernetic Narratives Beyond The Individual 3. Three (Psycho)Logical Myths of Auto-Individuation (pseudo-AI) 4. Deinstitutionalization, Biopolitics, and Network Maps of ‘Mental Disorder’ 5. Disorder without Borders 6. The Network as a Mode of Being
Timothy J. Beck is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Landmark College. His research takes a critical, transdisciplinary approach in exploring how social boundaries are both regulated and persistently reconfigured through applications of psychological theories to problems related to "mental health."
"The necessity to think through issues related to the intersection of twenty-first century technology, psychology, subjectification, and human experience is an urgent concern for all fields of human inquiry, but perhaps particularly urgent for psychology as it moves from nineteenth and twentieth century theoretical formulations to theory responsive to the shifting terrain of consciousness and society in the twenty-first century. This volume is situated in such a way as to offer one opening set of possible formulations. Bringing forward the work of Simondon, Guattari, Deleuze and Deligny as the central interlocutors for this volume opens a field of inquiry that is very original and timely. The three core concepts of transindividualism,the society of control, and networks as a mode of being make sense as way to conceptualize life affirmative networks of care under twenty-first century capitalism."—Hans Skott-Myhre, Professor of Human Services, Kennesaw State University, USA