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Hardcover | $56.00 Short | £55.95 | ISBN: 9780262062671 | 272 pp. | 6 x 9 in | October 2008
Paperback | $28.00 Short | £19.95 | ISBN: 9780262562317 | 272 pp. | 6 x 9 in | October 2008

Essential Info

Psychological Agency

Theory, Practice, and Culture


Agency is a central psychological phenomenon that must be accounted for in any explanatory framework of human action. According to the diverse group of scholars, researchers, and clinicians who have contributed chapters to this book, psychological agency is not a fixed entity that conforms to traditional definitions of free will but an affective, embodied, and relational processing of human experience. Agency is dependent on the biological, social, and cultural contexts that inform and shape who we are. Yet agency also involves the creation of meaning and the capacity for imagining new and different ways of being and acting and cannot be entirely reduced to biology or culture. This generative potential of agency is central to the process of psychotherapy and to psychological change and development.

The chapters explore psychological agency in theoretical, clinical and developmental, and social and cultural contexts. Psychological agency is presented as situated within a web of intersecting biophysical and cultural contexts in an ongoing interactive and developmental process. Persons are seen as not only shaped by but also capable of fashioning and refashioning their contexts in new and meaningful ways. The contributors have all trained in psychology or psychiatry, and many have backgrounds in philosophy; wherever possible they combine theoretical discussion with clinical case illustration.

Contributors: John Fiscalini, Roger Frie, Jill Gentile, Adelbert H. Jenkins, Elliot L. Jurist, Jack Martin, Arnold Modell, Linda Pollock, Pascal Sauvayre, Jeff Sugarman.

The hardcover edition does not include a dust jacket.

About the Author

Roger Frie is Associate Professor of Educational Psychology and Human Development, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, and Faculty, William Alanson White Institute, New York. His recent books include Understanding Experience: Psychotherapy and Postmodernism and Psychotherapy as a Human Science.


"This is a most impressive and original book: an ambitious, far-reaching enquiry into the psychodynamic conditions of human agency. These essays represent an important contribution to assessing the complex relation of agency to the culture of contemporary psychoanalysis."
Anthony Elliott, Flinders University, Australia and Visiting Research Chair, Open University, UK

"In this fine volume, ably edited and introduced by Roger Frie, ten psychologists and psychoanalysts consider the nature of agency and autonomy in our postpostmodern age. Without jettisoning valuable insights, they move beyond deconstruction to a more balanced positionone that puts the self in its place while still giving it its due. This timely book dovetails with current debates about the embodied and embedded nature of the person; it should have a major impact on current theory and practice in both psychology and psychoanalysis."
Louis Sass, author of Madness and Modernism and The Paradoxes of Delusion

"Psychological Agency is a must read. Roger Frie is to be congratulated for producing a strikingly insightful and intelligible volume."
George S. Howard, Professor of Psychology, University of Notre Dame