Encyclopedia of Critical Psychology

2014 Edition
| Editors: Thomas Teo


  • Ben Bradley
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-5583-7_104


Experience is perhaps the most disputed concept in this encyclopedia. At first sight, it might seem obvious that the word “experience” names the thing-to-be-explained by psychology. If the “what” of chemistry is chemicals and the what of geology is rocks and fossils, then the what of psychology must be experience, mustn’t it? Not at all. History shows that the repudiation of experience as the discipline’s defining object has been an effective launchpad both for experimental/scientific psychology andfor a powerful section of today’s critical psychologies. However, over recent years, such repudiations have had to front an increasing counterflow from the popular culture of self-disclosure in which personal experience is the principal coin – witness the rise of identity politics, reality TV, talk shows and vox pop, social media and blogging, exposés, travelogues and confessional (auto)biographies, the self-help movement, psychotherapy, and interviewing as a technique for...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Bradley, B. S. (2005). Psychology and experience. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Bradley, B. S. (2009). Rethinking ‘experience’ in professional practice: Lessons from clinical psychology. In W. C. Green (Ed.), Understanding and researching professional practice (pp. 65–82). Rotterdam, Netherlands: Sense Publishers.Google Scholar
  3. Bradley, B. S. (2011). Darwin’s sublime: The contest between reason and imagination in On the Origin of Species. Journal of the History of Biology, 44, 205–232.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Derrida, J., & Ferraris, M. (2001). I have a taste for secret. In A taste for the secret (pp. 1–92). (G. Donis, Trans.). Cambridge, UK: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  5. Flyvberg, B. (2006). Five misunderstandings about case-study research. Qualitative Inquiry, 12, 219–245.Google Scholar
  6. Gadamer, H.-G. (1991). Truth and method (J. Weinsheimer & D. G. Marshall, Trans.) (2nd. Rev. ed.). New York: Crossroad.Google Scholar
  7. Gergen, K. J. (1985). The social constructionist movement in modern psychology. American Psychologist, 40, 266–75.Google Scholar
  8. Hetherington, R. (1983). Sacred cows and white elephants. Bulletin of the British Psychological Society, 36, 273–80.Google Scholar
  9. Hollway, W., & Jefferson, T. (2000). Doing qualitative research differently: Free association, narrative and the interview method. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  10. James, W. (1890). The principles of psychology. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press (1981).Google Scholar
  11. James, W. (1903). The varieties of religious experience. Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin. 1982.Google Scholar
  12. James, W. (1904). Does consciousness exist? In Essays in radical empiricism. New York: Longmans Green (1912; 1–38).Google Scholar
  13. Kitzinger, C. (1994). The spoken word: Listening to a different voice. Celia Kitzinger interviews Carol Gilligan. Feminism & Psychology, 4, 408–419.Google Scholar
  14. Laing, R. D. (1967). The politics of experience and the bird of paradise. Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin.Google Scholar
  15. Morawski, J. G. (1992). There is more to our history of giving: The place of introductory textbooks in American psychology. American Psychologist, 47, 161–169.Google Scholar
  16. Natorp, P. (1888). Einleitung in die psychologie nach kritischer methode. Tübingen, Germany: J.C.B. Mohr.Google Scholar
  17. Oyama, S. (1985). The ontogeny of information. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  18. Scott, J. W. (1991). The evidence of experience. Critical Inquiry, 17, 773–797.Google Scholar
  19. Shusterman, R. (1997). Somatic experience: Foundation or reconstruction? In Practising philosophy: Pragmatism and the philosophical life (pp. 157–177). New York/London.Google Scholar
  20. Stephenson, N., & Papadopoulos, D. (2006). Analysing everyday experience: Social research and political change. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  21. Williams, R. (1976). Keywords: A vocabulary of culture and society. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  22. Williams, R. (1977). Marxism and literature. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  23. Winnicott, D. W. (1957). On the contribution of direct child observation to psychoanalysis. In The maturational processes and the facilitating environment (1965; pp.109–114). London: Hogarth Press.Google Scholar

Online Resources

  1. There are myriad online sources of first-hand experience in the form of blogs: travel blogs; addiction blogs; spirituality blogs; paranormal blogs; Alzheimer’s blogs; dying blogs etc. By way of example, have a look at Gail A. Hornstein’s “Bibliography of First-Person Narratives of Madness in English (5th ed.)” http://www.gailhornstein.com/files/Bibliography_of_First_Person_Narratives_of_Madness_5th_edition.pdf
  2. Likewise, there are a zillion “qualitative research blogs” online. For a guide see http://www.qualitative360.com/news-and-blogs/11-editor-s-pick-top-qualitative-research-blogs

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of PsychologyCharles Sturt UniversityBathurstAustralia