Mark P. Freeman

Psychology Department

Distinguished Professor of Ethics and Society

Ph.D., University of Chicago


Fields: History and philosophy of psychology; the self; narrative psychology; psychology of art and creativity

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Office Phone: 508-793-3081
Office: Beaven 331
PO Box: 26A
Zoom Office HoursMondays 1:00 -3:00 PM, Thursdays 10:00 AM -12:00 PM, and by appointment

I am pursuing three distinct, yet interrelated, lines of research.  The first of these, to which I have devoted much of my attention throughout my career, is philosophically-oriented work in what has come to be known as “narrative psychology”—which in the present context refers to that portion of psychology which looks toward narratives (e.g., autobiographies, memoirs, life histories) to explore such topics as autobiographical memory, personal identity, and the cultural fashioning of personal experience.  Of special relevance in this context is my book Hindsight: The Promise and Peril of Looking Backward (Oxford, 2010), which explores the idea that there is much that we can know about ourselves only in retrospect: looking backward over the personal past, we can frequently see what we either could not or would not see earlier on as well as discern the contours of our unfolding life stories. Perilous though the process may sometimes be, it is also one of great promise, allowing us not only to see the possible errors of our ways but to transcend them. Also relevant in this context is Do I Look at You with Love?  Reimagining the Story of Dementia (Brill | Sense, 2021), which explores my mother’s dementia over the course of some 12 years, and my co-edited volume with Hanna Meretoja, The Use and Abuse of Stories: New Directions in Narrative Hermeneutics (Oxford, 2023).  

The second line of research I have pursued in recent years seeks to chart those regions of human experience that take us beyond the self and, on some level perhaps, beyond culture.  Aesthetic and religious experience figure prominently in this line of inquiry as does “transcendent” experience (through art, nature, etc.) more generally.  While the first area of research focuses largely on the category of the self, this second area focuses more on the category of the “Other,” i.e., that which draws us out of ourselves and into the world.  Most relevant in this context is my (2014) book The Priority of the Other:  Thinking and Living Beyond the Self (Oxford, 214), an in-depth exploration of the category, and place, of the Other in psychological life.

My third area of research concerns what I have come to call the “poetic” dimension of both psychological experience and psychological theory.  In regard to the former, I am particularly interested in the imaginative processes by which people give meaning to, or find meaning in, experience.  In regard to the latter, my primary aim has been to fashioning modes of theorizing about experience that broaden the meaning of psychological “science” and that, in turn, serve to integrate scientific and humanistic inquiry.  Taking this set of ideas one step further, I have also become interested in the project of re-imagining psychology, or at least a portion of it, as part of the arts and humanities and thereby broadening the scope of the discipline. Central to this endeavor is my recent book, Toward the Psychological Humanities: A Modest Manifesto for the Future of Psychology (Routledge, 2024).  

Selected Courses


Recent Articles and Chapters

Freeman, M. (2024). The (al)lure of narrative: Information, misinformation, and disinformation in the time of coronavirus. In M. Dege and I. Strasser (Eds.), Narrative in Crisis: Reflections from the Limits of Storytelling (pp. 15-33)  Oxford University Press.  

Gergen, K.J., Freeman, M., & Josselson (2023). The promises of qualitative research revisited: 10 Years of Qualitative Psychology. Qualitative Psychology. 10, 375–382.

Freeman, M. (2023). Why “psychological humanities”?  Society for Humanistic Psychology Newsletter, November, 2023.  

Freeman, M. (2023). Thinking-With. Paul Ricoeur becomes part of Mark Freeman. A. Grant (Ed.), Writing Philosophical Ethnography (pp. 96-113). Routledge.  

Freeman, M. (2023).  The mother of beauty:  Notes on the (possible) poetry of dementia. In O.V. Lehmann & O. Synnes (Eds.), A Poetic Language of Ageing (pp. 9-26). Bloomsbury.  

Freeman, M. (2023). The urgency of hope in a time of despair. Possibility Studies and Society.

Freeman, M. (2023).  The inevitability, and danger, of narrative. In H. Meretoja, H. & M. Freeman, M. (Eds.), The Use and Abuse of Stories: New Directions in Narrative Hermeneutics (pp. 13-35). Oxford University Press.  

Freeman, M. (2022).  Narrative psychology and beyond: Returning the Other to the story of the self.  In B.D. Slife, S.C. Yanchar, & F.C. Richardson (Eds.), Routledge International Handbook of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology: Critiques, Problems, and Alternatives to Psychological Ideas (pp. 330-346). Routledge.  

Freeman, M. (2022). Poetry. In V.P. Glăveanu (ed.), The Palgrave Encyclopedia of the Possible.

Freeman, M. (2021). The mystery of identity: Fundamental questions, elusive answers. In M. Bamberg, C. Demuth, & M. Watzlawik (Eds.), The Cambridge Handbook of Identity (pp. 77-97). Cambridge University Press.

Freeman, M. (2021). How does the world become ecstatic? Notes on the Hermeneutics of transcendence. In R. Bishop (Ed.), Hermeneutic Dialogue and Shaping the Landscape of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology (pp. 112-123). Routledge.

Freeman, M. (2021).  Kindred spirits: Narrative, art, life. In T.E. Adams, R.M. Boylorn, & L.M. Tillman (Eds.), Advances in Autoethnography and Narrative Inquiry:  Reflections On the Legacy of Carolyn Ellis and Arthur Bochner (pp. 172-187).  Routledge.  

Freeman, M. (2020).  Psychology as literature.  Narrative knowing and the project of the psychological humanities.  In J. Sugarman & J. Martin (Eds.), A Humanities Approach to the Psychology of Personhood (pp. 30-48).  Routledge.  

Freeman, M. (2020).  The sacred beauty of finite life:  Re-imagining the face of the Other. Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 40, 161-172,  

Freeman, M. (2020).  Open wounds:  Discerning, owing, and narrating deep history.  In D.M. Goodman, E.R. Severson, & H. Macdonald (Eds.), Race, Rage, and Resistance: Philosophy, Psychology, and the Perils of Individualism (pp. 14-33).  Routledge.  

Freeman, M. 2018). The sociocultural constitution of aesthetic transcendence. In A. Rosa & J. Valsiner (Eds.), The Cambridge Handbook of Sociocultural Psychology (pp. 351-365). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Freeman, M. (2018). Living in verse: Sites of the poetic imagination. In O.V. Lehmann, N. Chaudhary, A.C. Bastos, & E. Abbey (Eds.), Poetry and Imagined Worlds (pp. 139-154). London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Freeman, M. (2018). Discerning the history inscribed within: Significant sites of the narrative unconscious. In B. Wagoner (Ed.), Handbook of Culture and Memory (pp. 65-81). New York: Oxford University Press.

Freeman, M. (2017). Worlds within and without: Thinking Otherwise about the dialogical self. Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology, 37, 201-213.

Freeman, M. & Goodman, D. (2017). Thinking psychology Otherwise: A conversation with Mark Freeman (interviewed by David Goodman). In H. MacDonald, D. Goodman, & B. Becker (Eds.), Dialogues at the Edge of American Psychological Discourse (pp. 147-176). London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Freeman, M. (2017). Narrative inquiry. In P. Leavy (Ed.), Handbook of Arts-Based Research (pp. 123-140). New York: The Guilford Press.

Freeman, M. (2017). Narrative at the limits (Or: What is “life” really like?). In B. Schiff, A.E. McKim, & S. Patron (Eds.), Life and Narrative: The Risks and Responsibilities of Storying Experience (pp. 11-27). New York: Oxford University Press.

Freeman, M. (2016). From the collective unconscious to the narrative unconscious:Re-imagining the sources of selfhood. Europe’s Journal of Psychology, 12, 513-522.

Freeman, M. (2016). Why narrative matters: Philosophy, method, theory. Storyworlds, 8, 138-152.

Goodman, D. & Freeman, M. (2015). Introduction: Why the Other? In D. Goodman & M.
Freeman (Eds.), Psychology and the Other (pp. 1-13). New York: Oxford University Press.

Freeman, M. (2015). Narrative psychology as science and as art. In J. Valsiner, G. Marsico, N. Chaudhary, T. Sato, & V. Dazzani (Eds.), Psychology as a Science of Human Being: The Yokohama Manifesto (pp. 349-364). Switzerland: Springer.

Freeman, M. (2015). Narrative as a mode of understanding: Method, theory, praxis. In A. De Fina & A. Georgakopolou (Eds.), The Handbook of Narrative Analysis (pp. 21- 37). West Sussex, UK: Wiley Blackwell.

Freeman, M. (2015). Narrative hermeneutics. In J. Martin, J. Sugarman, & K.L. Slaney (Eds.), The Wiley Handbook of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology: Methods, Approaches, and New Directions for Social Sciences (pp. 234 247). West Sussex, UK: Wiley Blackwell.

Freeman, M. (2015). Beholding and being beheld: Simone Weil, Iris Murdoch, and the ethics of attention. The Humanistic Psychologist, 43, 160-172.

Freeman, M. (2015). Narrative, ethics, and the development of identity. Narrative Works: Issues, Investigations, & Interventions, 4, 8-27.

Freeman, M. (2015). Paradoxes of the constructed: Narrative psychology and beyond. In J. Raskin, S.K. Bridges, & J.S. Kahn (Eds.), Studies in Meaning 5: Perturbing the Status Quo in Constructivist Psychology (pp. 119-154). New York, NY: Pace University Press.

Gergen, K.J., Josselson, R., & Freeman, M. (2015). The promises of qualitative inquiry. American Psychologist, 70, 1-9.

Freeman, M. (2015). Discerning oneself: A plea for the whole. In K.C. McLean & M. Syed (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Identity Development (pp. 182-191). New York: Oxford University Press.