Constructing the Self, Constructing America: A Cultural History of Psychotherapy

Constructing the Self, Constructing America: A Cultural History of Psychotherapy

Constructing the Self, Constructing America: A Cultural History of Psychotherapy

Constructing the Self, Constructing America: A Cultural History of Psychotherapy

Synopsis

"In this ground-breaking cultural history of psychotherapy, historian and psychologist Philip Cushman shows how the development of modern psychotherapy is inextricably intertwined with that of the Unit"

Excerpt

Life is a very narrow bridge between two eternities-- do not be afraid.

--RABBI NACHMAN OF BRASLAV

We take psychotherapy for granted today. It is such a normal, everyday aspect of our lives that we rarely look at it, wonder about it, question it. It is certainly true that we criticize psychotherapy and make jokes about it, but we criticize it as we would the weather. For late twentieth-century urban Americans, psychotherapy is a given; it is an unquestioned part of our world.

When social artifacts or institutions are taken for granted it usually means that they have developed functions in the society that are so integral to the culture that they are indispensable, unacknowledged, and finally invisible. So, then, what are psychotherapy's sociopolitical functions? What part does psychotherapy play in the complicated cultural landscape of late twentieth-century America? How does psychotherapy either add to or challenge the status quo--by affecting current understandings of what it means to be human, or influencing standards of normality and criminality, trends in educational and advertising theory, the content of popular culture, the conduct of election campaigns, concepts of health and illness, and the particulars of moral understandings, everyday language, fashion trends, and leisure activities? Vast historical changes in the last 500 years in the West have slowly created a world in which the individual is commonly understood to be a container of a "mind" and more recently a "self" that needs to be "therapied," rather than, say, a carrier of a divine soul that needs to be saved, or simply an element of the communal unit that must cooperate for the common good. There were, of course, sociopolitical reasons for these changes, and . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.