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  • Book
  • Open Access
  • © 2022


A theory for subjectivity in the psychological humanities

Palgrave Macmillan


  • Brings an applied perspective to the critical psychological theory of subjectivity

  • Draws together research in both psychology and the humanities to advance a more social just theory and practice

  • Incorporates feminist,postcolonial,decolonial,whiteness and queer theories to examine intersectionalities and complicity

  • This book is open access, which means that you have free and unlimited access.

Buying options

Hardcover Book USD 59.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)

Table of contents (8 chapters)

  1. Front Matter

    Pages i-xviii
  2. Introduction: The Personal Is Still Political

    • Natasha Distiller
    Pages 1-41Open Access
  3. Well-Intentioned White People and Other Problems with Liberalism

    • Natasha Distiller
    Pages 43-72Open Access
  4. Wakanda Forever

    • Natasha Distiller
    Pages 73-105Open Access
  5. Thought Bodies: Gender, Sex, Sexualities

    • Natasha Distiller
    Pages 107-161Open Access
  6. Love and Money

    • Natasha Distiller
    Pages 163-209Open Access
  7. The Complicit Therapist

    • Natasha Distiller
    Pages 211-244Open Access
  8. Conclusion

    • Natasha Distiller
    Pages 245-251Open Access
  9. Correction to: Complicities

    • Natasha Distiller
    Pages C1-C1Open Access
  10. Back Matter

    Pages 253-265

About this book

This Open Access book offers a model of the human subject as complicit in the systems that structure human society and the human psyche which draws together clinical research with theory from both psychology and the humanities to advance a more social just theory and practice. Beginning from the premise that we cannot separate ourselves from the systems that precede and formulate us as subjects, the author argues that, in reckoning with this complicity, a model of subjectivity can be created that moves beyond binaries and identity politics. In doing so, the book examines how we might develop a more socially just psychological theory and practice, which is both systems work and intra-psychological work. In bringing together ways of thinking developed in the humanities with clinical psychotherapeutic practice, this book offers one interdisciplinary take on key questions of social and emotional efficacy in action-oriented psychotherapy work.


  • psychological humanities
  • subjectivity
  • Feminist therapy
  • Postcolonial theory
  • queer theory
  • identity politics
  • structural inequality
  • critical race theory
  • social justice
  • relational-cultural therapy
  • intersubjectivity
  • attachment theory
  • Lacanian psychoanalysis
  • therapeutic transgender activism
  • whiteness
  • Open Access


This is the kind of writing — I hope — members of allied health and medical disciplines have been waiting for, irrespective of whether they focus explicitly on providing support for the psychological aspects of human being or whether they work in fields that intersect with mental health practice.

Complicities offers a gentle, generous, highly knowledgeable, and accessible introduction to and application of transdisciplinarity at its best. Using arguments, ideas and theories from the critical humanities and cutting-edge approaches to neurobiology and psychotherapy, Natasha Distiller invites the reader into a world in which diversity and complexity are openly at play and the taken-for-granted is given a chance to dissolve. Guided by the author’s carefully selected and convincingly elaborated gestures towards diverse knowledges, binary distinctions between e.g., self and other, mind and body, individual and context, power and oppression, clinician and client, clinical and everyday encounters, therapy and advocacy, are slowly replaced with a third space in which human being has always already been understood and practiced as intersubjectivity, relationality, mutuality, and being-with. This third space, which corresponds to the complicit mindset and the notion and practice of complicity as the only way in which we can live a human life, offers an alternative to the injustices and suffering that result from a rigid adherence to binary disciplinary, colonial, scientific, and capitalist regimes.

Complicities can be read as a guide to be (human and a professional) which allows us to drop the relentless but familiar fight for the upper hand position in all our relations (e.g., as expert, objective observer, a person who owns what is morally good and true) in favour of nurturing a non-judgmental stance towards human lives being with each other in the world. If we learn to acknowledge and accept our imperfection, vulnerability, and complicity as human beings, we can, so the book suggests, truly connect with each other and develop and maintain healing relationships.

Reading the book once is not enough. It leaves the reader with the desire to start all over again, for another go at engaging with the diverse dimensions and implications of the notion and practice of complicity.

—David Azul, La Trobe University, Bendigo, Australia

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gender and Women Studies, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, USA

    Natasha Distiller

About the author

Natasha Distiller is a psychotherapist in private practice in Berkeley, California. She is a lecturer in the Gender and Women’s Studies Department at UC Berkeley and a Beatrice Bain Research Scholar in the department.

Bibliographic Information

Buying options

Hardcover Book USD 59.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)