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Naming the Mind: How Psychology Found Its Language Paperback – 6 May 1997

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`I wish I had it in my power to make this book by Kurt Danziger required reading for any psychologist who teaches or contemplates teaching a course in the history of the field. Why? Because it eloquently challenges the current view that the category language of the 20th-century American psychology reflects a natural and universal order of psychological phenomena. In Naming the Mind: How Psychology Found Its Language, Danziger shows very convincingly what is wrong with that picture' -Theory & Psychology

`Naming the Mind consolidates a vast body of scholarship on psychological language and offers a persuasive model for appreciating the dynamic play and implications of this expert language....For those researchers concerned with psychology's language, Naming the Mind is a smart read' - Feminism & Psychology

About the Author

Kurt Danziger is Professor Emeritus at York University, Toronto and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. Constructing the Subject (1990) is his most recently published book.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program) 5.0 out of 5 stars 5 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Psychology: Not Quite the Science It Claims to Be 11 Nov. 2012
By Ceek - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A wonderfully informative deconstruction of the language modern psychology takes for granted. Danziger brilliantly explains how terms such as "motivation," "behavior" "attitude," and "personality" are constructions wedded to societal conventions about who people are and should be. Psychology, from this point of view, becomes understood as a fundamentally conservative discipline, in which societal conventions become scientized and pathologize differences from "universal" (yet historically and socially contingent) norms. A must-read for anyone working within or interested in the social sciences.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Landmark Book for Western Psychology 6 Feb. 2009
By Rakibe - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you are interested in the writings of Thomas Teo or Ken Wilber or want to see psychology become more global in its thinking this book is a must read.
Danziger is one of the most important psychology writers to date. He has broke ground and taboos in this book by pointing out what is becoming more and more obvious. That Euro-American psychology, including and especially its scientific research is highly ethnocentric and does not represent the rest of the world as an objective psychology.
Danziger proves this most elegantly and is referenced by many other modern scholars around this issue. Most especially those who are interested in having a more global respect for the knowledge of other cultures. Europe and The US's way of thinking doe snot represent all cultures.
5.0 out of 5 stars Must read 19 Aug. 2016
By Stanley B. Klein - Published on
Format: Paperback
If you are in ANY field of academic psychology you MUST read this book. The Socratic "know thyself" cannot be had absent an understanding of the points Danziger raises. If, like me, you have read this book and taken it to heart, you will find it a serious challenge to maintain the fantasy that your "scholarly" contributions amount to much more than a hill of beans.
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cleaning up in Psychology 17 April 2000
By Birger Hjørland - Published on
Format: Paperback
This is a critical book about the development of psychology. It is not a pink description of a development from primitive thinking to present glory, as most books on the subject are. It is almost the opposite. It can be compared with Stephen Jay Gould's "The Mismeasure of Man" because it is very critical of main-stream psychology's view of man, its methodology, language and so on. (In an earlier book from 1990 he described the statistical methods in psychology as "methodolatry"). There is no doubt that Danziger is an authority in the history of psychology, and his researchs has influenced many books in this field. The basic idea in the present book is that the language of psychology developed as a soft kind of behaviorism using dependent and independent variables. From a broader variety of approaches, this "variable psychology" came to dominate international psychology almost totally, and only in the 1990's signs of weakenings in this hegemonistic approach seems to appear. The development of this dominant approach in psychology is explained from using a kind of social-constructivistic methodology. Psychology developed the way it did because psychologist allied themselves with school administrators, the Army, and similar groups. A psychology serving the students, the mental health patients, and other (end)users would have looked very differently. This book deserves to be read and discussed widely. I myself have used it in a paper about "the classification of psychology" in the journal Knowledge Organization, 1998, 25(4), 162-201.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Psychology beginning to understand the words it uses 9 May 2003
By Tom Beakbane - Published on
Format: Paperback
Surely one of the most critical aspects of our ability to understand the human mind is to understand the words that we use to describe it.
Traditionally psychology has done a magnificent job of turning reasonably functioning human beings into research subjects and patients but has had little inclination to lay on the couch and try to understand itself. The discipline has sailed along, blown by the reassuring wind that it is a pure science, disembodied, transcendent, and insulated from the confusing realities of people and the words they use to communicate.
This book is a masterful account of the history of the words central to psychology, words such as "behavior," "motivation" and "emotion." We use these words as though they are objective categories of brain function, however Danziger explains that they are products of academic fashion and pop psychology and as such they are ever-changing.
This book is clearly written, scholarly but not weighty. It covers an aspect of psychology that is not mainstream - nonetheless it is a seminal book because it is written by an insider and adds momentum to the revolution in thinking that is overturning the prevailing dogma that the brain works like a computer manipulating symbols. The brain is instead an emergent system and words are created through social interaction - therefore words and their meanings are ever-living and not scientifically "pure."
This book confirms that you can understand psychology only be understanding the words that psychologists themselves use.
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