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A New Narrative: Imagining an Alternative Psychology

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Is there an alternative to the mainstream of psychology, one that could help to better understand the fundamental problem of meaning-making?

On September 20, Brian Schiff, head of AUP’s Psychology Department, entertained a roundtable of scholars from a range of disciplines to discuss the launch of his new book: A New Narrative for Psychology (Oxford Press). The roundtable consisted of guests and AUP scholars Matti Hyvärinen (Professor, University of Tampere), Sylvie Patron (maître de conférences, Paris Diderot), Jens Brockmeier (Professor, The American University of Paris) and Maria Medved (Professor, The American University of Paris). Each scholar affirmed the critique of contemporary methods undertaken by Professor Schiff’s book and the “many years of work and reflection” by Professor Schiff that enabled him to delineate the new, congruent field of narrative psychology and its crucial role in the study of psychology.

The discussion of Professor Schiff’s book illustrated his strong perspective on the need for disciplinary change and what mainstream psychological studies may be missing if these studies do not start with persons in multiple social contexts such as history, culture, and social relations. His premise is that one “can’t understand human psychology without narrative.” As befitting a roundtable of scholars from diverse disciplines—sociology and political science, psychology, and literary narratology—each scholar also offered reactions to the book from their respective disciplines and contributed new and occasionally diverging thoughts on the topic of narrative psychology.

Professor Schiff’s book: A New Narrative for Psychology (Oxford Press) is available for purchase online.