chapter  7
19 Pages

Popular psychology and the colonisation of intimate life in Trinidad

ByDaniel Nehring, Dylan Kerrigan

Individuals interact with self-help narratives, and they may incorporate their moral grammar in various ways into their everyday lives so as to make sense of a range of personal troubles. The moral grammar of self-help is constituted simultaneously at two levels. On the one hand, it takes shape in public discourse, in a range of media, such as self-help books or smartphone apps, and in the face-to-face encounters of self-help groups, lectures, and workshops. On the other hand, self-help, and popular psychology at large, has an important cognitive and emotional dimension. In this sense, the preceding chapters raise complex questions about the roles which self-help may play in organising our Trinidadian participants' intimate lives. To begin with, it seems important to re-examine how precisely Trinidadians engage with and make use of self-help narratives across various media. Why and how exactly do some Trinidadians consume self-help? To what extent do they incorporate self-help's beliefs, norms, and prescriptions into their own cultural understandings of intimate relationships, and how do they use these beliefs, norms, and prescriptions to make sense of everyday intimate experiences? From these concerns, further questions will follow about the power of popular psychology, and of self-help in particular, to structure self-identity. To what extent and how do therapeutic narratives come to form part of Trinidadians' sense of self? What consequences does this have for the ways in which they understand and experience intimate relationships?