Therapy Culture: Cultivating Vulnerability in an Uncertain Age

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  • Edition: 1st
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2003-11-19
  • Publisher: Routledge
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We air our feelings and dirty laundry on television talk shows. Many Americans rely on advice from a therapist to get them through daily crises and boost our self-esteem. The news media constantly relays stories of people "at risk". And our lunch conversations are sprinkled with the phrases "scarred for life," "emotionally fragile", and "How did I get here." Frank Furedi, author of the critically acclaimedParanoid Parenting, turns his sharp eye to explore the powerful influence of therapeutic imperative in contemporary society in his latest bookTherapy Culture. In recent decades virtually every sphere of life has become subject to a new emotional culture. Furedi suggests that the recent cultural turn toward the realm of the emotions coincides with a radical redefinition of who we are. Increasingly vulnerability is presented as the defining feature of our psyches. Furedi questions the widely accepted notions that this new culture represents an enlightened shift towards emotionsand shows how this turn is primarily about imposing a new conformity through the management of our emotions. Through framing the problem of everyday life through the prism of emotions, therapy culture incites everyone to feel powerless and ill. Drawing on developments in popular culture, politics, and social life, Furedi provides a path-breaking analysis of modern life.

Table of Contents

List of figures
Acknowledgements ix
Introduction 1(23)
The culture of emotionalism
The politics of emotion
Targeting privacy and informal relations
How did we get here?
The diminished self
The self at risk
Fragile identity: hooked on self-esteem
Conferring recognition: the quest for identity and the state
Therapeutic claims-making and the demand for a diagnosis
Final thoughts: does it matter? 195(10)
Notes 205(21)
Bibliography 226(11)
Index 237

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