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Dec 6, 2022

Mainstream psychology has been complicit — whether intentionally or not — in the establishment of colonial, white-supremacist, capitalist hierarchies of oppression around the world. Individualizing pain lets the systemic causes for our suffering off the hook and places the responsibility for healing and wellbeing on individual will. 

In the 1970’s in El Salvador, confronted by these dangers of western psychology — during a civil war — psychologist Ignacio Martín-Baró started to develop an alternative, constructing a psychology relevant to oppressed peoples, like many of the people of El Salvador who were undergoing social, political, and war-related trauma. 

Martin-Baró was ultimately assassinated as a result of his work by a CIA-trained battalion of the Salvadoran army, but fellow therapists and theologians in Latin America carried his work on. His legacy, known as Liberation Psychology, is an attempt to bring the historical, political, and economic causes of our distresses and discontents into the therapy session. The aim is to bring about liberation through an understanding of the systemic causes of oppression, exploitation, and alienation and to offer pathways to more socialist, just, and regenerative models of relating that would bring about both human and planetary well-being.

To learn more, we’ve brought on two guests with both a theoretical and experiential relationship to Liberation Psychology. 

Daniel José Gaztambide Nuñez, PsyD is a therapist and author of the book A People’s History of Psychoanalysis: From Freud to Liberation Psychology. Daniel is the assistant director of clinical training in the Department of Clinical Psychology at the New School for Social Research, and the director of the Frantz Fanon Lab for Intersectional Psychology, 

Harriet Fraad is a feminist activist, psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, and host of the Capitalism Hits Home podcast. 

We begin the show with Daniel José Gaztambide Nuñez, PsyD exploring Freud, Marx, and the origins of Liberation Psychology. In the second half of the show, we speak with Harriet Fraad exploring a Marxist-Feminist approach to Liberation Psychology.

Thank you to Noname for the intermission music and to Neil Ballard for the cover art. Upstream theme music was composed by Robert Raymond.

Related Conversations / Further listening: Stolen Focus with Johann Hari

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