The Bedford Glossary of Critical and Literary Terms - Ross Murfin 2018
Psychological criticism: A type of literary criticism that emerged in the first half of the nineteenth century and that analyzes both literature in general and specific literary texts in terms of the creative psyche. Psychological critics generally focus on the author rather than the reader. Many analyze texts with an eye to their authors’ personalities, using what they know about the author to understand the text. Others use literary works to reconstruct the author’s personality or to get inside the author’s head; Geneva School critics, for instance, sought to experience an author’s consciousness — to become a better vessel for the author’s intentionality, or awareness — and reflect it in their analyses. Many critics we would term psychological do not identify themselves as such, and many write in broadly untheorized terms even when using psychological techniques and methods of analysis. By contrast, practitioners of psychoanalytic criticism, the best-known form of psychological criticism, usually identify themselves specifically as psychoanalytic critics and structure their analyses within a relatively well-defined theoretical framework.