Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Critical Psychology

pp 980-988

Internalized Oppression

  • Bruce SmallAffiliated withDepartment of Adult Education and Counselling Psychology, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education Email author 


Internalized oppression is a psychological effect of the abuse of power. Despite the prevalence of power and dominance in human history, the psychological effects of constraining or controlling people have received little attention in the field of psychology, and only recently have they become a focus of research in academic settings. This paucity of attention has been coincident with psychology’s historical participation in oppression, for example, through racism and sexism, and could be seen as integral (1) to the relative lack of development and refinement of methods for assisting individuals to recover from the effects of oppression, (2) to the lack of addressing both prejudicial and self-limiting concepts held by oppressors, and (3) to a general lack of optimism about the potential for ending the human tendency to both exercise and accommodate oppression.

It may fall upon critical psychology to fill these gaps and fully identify the human significance of int ...

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