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May 2022

Psychology, science fiction and postmodern space

Journal/Book: S Afr J Psychol. 1996; 26: P O Box 1758, Pretoria 0001, South Africa. Bureau Scientific Publ. 143-149.

Abstract: This article traces the development of postmodern spaces in psychology and its wider culture through a consideration of new forms of virtual reality represented in science fiction writing. Psychology is a thoroughly modern discipline which rests upon the fantasy of observing behaviour directly. Recently, however, postmodern debates in the discipline have drawn attention to the construction of behaviour and experience in language organized through discourse, A correlative shift toward a postmodern sensitivity to language has also occurred in the neighbouring discipline of psychoanalysis, and discourse analysis thus provides the opportunity to link these two hitherto divided approaches to subjectivity. It is argued that discourse analysis combined with psychoanalysis can be employed to comprehend changes in culture which are anticipated and expressed in science fiction. Psychoanalytic theory is used alongside discourse analysis to read the film Total Recall and stories by Philip K.Dick. The analytic device of the 'discursive complex' is used to draw out patterns of meaning that structure the text. It is argued that this form of analysis is particularly appropriate to the subject matter, and to the new forms of subjectivity that necessarily escape the gaze of modern psychology. Virtual reality understood by way of a psychoanalytic discourse reading is able to make explicit the forms of subjectivity that inhabit varieties of postmodern space.

Note: Article I Parker, Bolton Inst Higher Educ, Div Psychol & Biol, Discourse Unit, Deane Rd, Bolton BL3 5AB, England

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