The chapter I am really struggling with at the moment is on "Popular Psychology."
Now, the term "popular psychology" is sometimes interchangeable with self-help, but in my dissertation it is referring to books that specifically draw upon the writings of Freud and Jung, normally written by trained psychologists and psychotherapists.
The author I am using principally is Dorothy Rowe, an Australian clinical psychologist who established a very successful academic career in the UK and has been a prolific writer of books of popular psychology.
I have been reading her book Friends and Enemies: Our Need to Love and Hate, but have been finding it terribly hard to really get writing the attendant chapter. I guess I feel a little uncertain because I don't really know much about psychology. Of course, I am not pretending to make any comment on psychology, as I am looking at quite distinct aspects of the books - but at the back of my mind is always this lingering fear that I am out of my depth.
Fortunately Rowe is an Anglican, and makes reference to her religious life in her books, so that is helpful - gives me an angle.
But every day I sit in front of my computer, a huge pile of books at my elbow and think, "I can't do this." I am having a crisis, I guess. The psychologists I am writing about would probably thoroughly approve.
Friends and Enemies is a long and meandering book whcih drifts from psychological analysis to political commentary and autobiography. Rowe frequently references Australia and her life in Australia, so that is helpful - that is what I wan to be writing about.
It is a book about personal growth in relation to groups, and the ways in which we operate as a member of the group and the community. Quite a quirky topic, I guess, and periodically fascinating.
Rowe wants us all to "understand the nature of our existence" so that we may grow and become better adjusted and happier people. Of course, at the basis of all this is the assumption that growth is what we should be aiming for - the basis of all self-help books. Psychological evolution is taken for granted.
It's hard to place Rowe's own philosophy. At times she can be painfully politically correct, with the exact assortment of right-on plolitical positions that go much of the way to building a somewhat cliched vision of the world. And, as I mentioned before, she also admits in the book that she is a Christian, with an affiliation to the rituals of High Anglicanism. And so I am perplexed when I come across a phrase like:
"I do not create theories that have to do with the influence of the planets or evil spirits or God's mysterious ways..."
The absence of God's mystery leaves me wondering about the nature of her Anglicanism.
Anyway, leave me with the book for some time longer (not too much longer - I am already behind schedule) and I may have figured out just what exactly her theories are.