Exploring the transdisciplinary trajectory of suggestibility

Motzkau, Johanna (2009). Exploring the transdisciplinary trajectory of suggestibility. Subjectivity, 27 pp. 172–194.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1057/sub.2009.3


Traditionally considered a deficiency in will power and rationality, suggestibility has proven a troublesome concept for psychology. It was forgotten, rediscovered, denounced, undermined experimentation and recently became the ambiguous issue at the centre of concern about child witness' credibility in sexual abuse cases. This paper traces the history of suggestibility to show how it raises the 'paradox of the psychosocial'. Drawing on the work of Deleuze and Stengers, and on interviews with legal practitioners, this paper demonstrates how suggestibility carries this paradox into theory, research and legal practice. It thereby opens up a transdisciplinary perspective, allowing for questions of power and knowledge to be asked as performative questions. In the spirit of a process-centred ontology for psychology, I argue that suggestibility constitutes a 'rhythm of problematization', a folding, giving a subversive insight into dynamics of subjectification and application, and offering new perspectives towards issues of children's credibility and protection.

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