Dynamic Psychology in Modernist British Fiction by George M. Johnson (auth.)

By George M. Johnson (auth.)

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The interest has been followed by misconceptions of the most varied character. Some have supposed the new science to concern itself with experiments on thought-transference and clairvoyance; others have regarded it as a presumptuous sub-department of the physiology of the senses and the brain; and still others have treated it as merely a materialistic philosophy in one of its aberrations. Amid such confusion it is no wonder that people ask: "What is the new psychology? ". (ix) Scripture tried to reserve the term new psychology to describe" a purely mental science founded on careful experiment and exact measurement" (14), but a few years later Annie Besant applied it in a less "scientific" way in her published lectures, Theosophy and the New Psychology (1904), and it continued to be attached to various psychologies, including behaviourism (Woodworth, Contemporary 13).

S Nevertheless, Freud's propagandists triumphed and the phrase became exclusively identified with psychoanalysis. G. Tansley, who had been analyzed by Freud, referred to psychoanalysis in his title The New Psychology and Its Relation to Life (1920); Charles F. Haanel in The New Psychology (1924) employed the phrase in a popularized, pseudomystical way to refer to psychoanalysis's recognition of the new transformative powers of thought. V. Routh, William Frierson, and Leon Edel, uncritically accepted the narrow equation of new psychology with psychoanalysis.

He also asserted the necessity of keeping the biological sciences separate from psychology, but was quite willing to include metaphysical speculation within its realm. On the other hand, the Idealists' concentration on consciousness narrowed the focus of psychology by diverting attention from neo-Romantic conceptions of the unconscious, and this is true of Ward's psychology as well. For fiction writers, Idealist discourse typically shaped their thinking in a number of ways. Idealism provided impetus for the intense concern with spirit and unseen realities demonstrated in the fiction under consideration here.

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