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The Myth of Empowerment: Women and the Therapeutic Culture in America (NYU Press)

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... This context is concerned with discourse and politics of health and health problems, as well as with the politics of music and culture (Rolvsjord, 2010). In the same way, gender expectations and gender politics regarding various domains of life is a prominent feature of the context within which therapy takes place (Becker, 2005;Becker & Maracek, 2008). As individuals move between the contexts of everyday life and therapy, home and institution, private and public, health and ill health, the social, cultural and political worlds through which music is experienced are carried with them (Rolvsjord, 2013;Stige, 2011). ...
... However, even the individual levels of empowerment involve some aspects of change at social levels, or at least in the individual's interaction with the community (Dalton et al., 2001;Rolvsjord, 2004). Becker (2005) has strenuously critiqued feminist therapy, with regard of the usefulness of its therapeutic agenda towards personal empowerment. She argues that feminist therapy runs the risk of helping women to adapt to oppressive situations, rather than contributing to social or political change. ...
... She argues that feminist therapy runs the risk of helping women to adapt to oppressive situations, rather than contributing to social or political change. Thus, Becker emphasizes the need for active involvement with the social, cultural, and political contexts as crucial to processes of empowerment, and points to the clear limitations of individual therapy aiming towards change of gender inequality and oppression (Becker, 2005). Such a critique is relevant to Susanne's story. ...
Article
In contrast to a comparative model of gender that implies that gender is something you have, a performative model of gender points towards gender as something that is construed in relationship and in context. From this perspective music therapy can be understood as an arena for performance and negotiations of gender. In this process, music therapy can conceal a range of socio-cultural and political dimensions significant in how people manage their sense of self, health, and well-being. This article explores how gender and sexuality are located through singing as a musical act and cultural gesture, and how the social presence of the voice is implicated in sexual politics. Using the experiences of a young woman in music therapy as a point of departure, this article examines the notion of interrupted voices in everyday life and therapy.
... Such messages convey a firm belief that seeking medical help and therapy will help the regretful mothers, which highlights the insinuation of therapeutic culture into intimate relations and parenting (see e.g. Becker, 2005;Furedi, 2003). Therapeutic culture does not deny the existence of negative emotions, as it is emphasised that there is no perfect happiness and relationships are not trouble-free. ...
... These affective orientations attributed mothers' personal qualities as the source of their regret, individualising both the sources and solutions to difficulties faced in the maternal role. These orientations circulated and reinforced neoliberal and therapeutic understandings of how individualism has affected our perception of the self not only as a solution but also as the source of problems (Becker, 2005). However, in these comments, addressing regret as regret often seemed difficult. ...
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This volume provides a novel platform to re-evaluate the notion of open-ended intimacies through the lens of affect theories. Contributors address the embodied, affective and psychic, sensorial and embodied aspects of their ongoing intimate entanglements across various timely phenomena. This fascinating collection asks how the study of affect enables us to rethink intimacies, what affect theories can do to the prevailing notion of intimacy and how they renew and enrich theories of intimacy in a manner which also considers its normative and violent forms. This collection brings together a selection of original chapters which invite readers to rethink such concepts as care, closeness and connectivity through the notion of affective intimacies. Based on rigorous research, it offers novel insights on a variety of themes from austerity culture to online discussions on regretting motherhood, from anti-ableist notions of health to teletherapies in the era of COVID-19, and from queer intimacies to critiques of empathy. Lively and thought-provoking, this collection contributes to timely topics across the social sciences, representing multiple disciplines from gender studies, sociology and cultural studies to anthropology and queer studies. By so doing, it advances the value of interdisciplinary perspectives and creative methodologies for understanding affective intimacies.
... However, empowerment was not about social justice or about dismantling social structures of inequality; it was about the self. That is, the therapists' vision of women's empowerment involved cultivating a self with inner qualities such as self-confidence, high self-esteem, self-love, and self-compassion or even "getting in touch with your inner goddess" (Becker, 2005;Marecek & Kravetz, 1998). ...
... In sum, as Fox-Genovese (1991), Gill (2007), and Becker (2005) have pointed out, many of the feminisms of Western high-income countries (especially the U.S.) rest squarely on the ethos of liberal individualism. As we will now show, in much of the Majority World, this ethos is not the prevailing one. ...
Article
Drawing from a larger study of non fatal suicidal behavior in Sri Lanka, we examine the narratives of two young women and their mothers following the daughter’s suicide-like act. These accounts offer insights into how the moral person is constructed in Sri Lanka and, particularly, what it means to be a good daughter and a good woman in Sri Lanka. We reflect on the implications that radically different conceptions of the self and personhood have for construing mental health and wellbeing outside a Western psychological framework. We also examine briefly how such conceptions of self and personhood have shaped feminisms in different locales.
... A private practitioner of psychotherapy in the United States since 1989, Dana Becker has also made several notable contributions to the field of feminist psychotherapy. Becker (2005) maintains that as the notion of psychotherapy for the 'normal' has been institutionalized for half a decade, and has been directed especially towards women, it is time to question how the therapeutic culture has served them in terms of the broader social and political problems they face. Yet part of psychology and psychotherapy's success lies in the ability to stow painful questions like these away. ...
... In her multiple works, Becker pursues how popular psychological concepts like 'empowerment' and 'stress' seep into American society's popular lingo of people's potentials and problems. The concept of 'empowerment' reflects and reinforces how the idea of collective emancipation from unfavourable sociopolitical living conditions is nowadays reduced to individual psychological self-actualization (Becker 2005). In that the popular idea of 'stress' plays an ideological part in drawing the outside in, we end up believing that we must change ourselves in order to adjust to societal conditions, instead of changing the living conditions (Becker 2013). ...
... Maktbegreppet i empowerment ses snarare som en generativ, eller ömsesidig process (Rowlands, 1995;Becker, 2005). Makt genereras när människor stimuleras till utveckling, motstånd och utmaning av power over, vilket Rowlands menar är power to [do] (Rowlands, 1995, sid 102). ...
... Likheten mellan perspektiven, fortsätter Townsend et al., ses i att båda inriktningar betonar vikten av medvetandegörande, och av gruppen, den sociala gemenskapen. Dessa två faktorer var också de som på 1960-talet influerade kvinnor att samlas i medvetandegörande grupper vilket senare influerade till feministisk psykoterapi (Becker, 2005). Julian Rappaport, en av de psykologer som citeras av Townsend et al., beskriver empowermentbegreppet i en ofta citerad artikel inom amerikansk community psykologi: ...
... other Loser participants, such as Tracy Moores and Jo Cowling, who tended to be more critical about the lack of support they received once leaving the show, Tsao insists that the program, 'armed us with everything we need, all the knowledge we require, things for weight loss,' asserting that he did not expect any 'handholding' from the network producers or trainers once the series was complete. Tsao, in all his enthusiastic positivity, single-handedly seems to contradict the numerous critics of reality television and self-help discourses in general, from those whose criticisms range from the economic exploitation of immaterial labour (Andrejevic 2004 p. 62;Hearn 2008), to those who perceive the discourse of self-help to be a subtle and insidious form of social control (Becker 2005;Salerno 2005;Shattuc 1997;Furedi 2004). As the following chapter will explore, scholars such as Hearn argue that reality television make-over programs and the message of self-branding that they perpetuate 'ultimately exacerbates the very conditions of personal and material insecurity it claims to address' (Hearn 2008 p. 495). ...
... I believe we owe it to ourselves…to acknowledge that this is not so.' She goes further to argue that this so-called 'self-empowerment' is actually dangerously apolitical, creating subjects who ultimately do little to challenge the status quo (Becker 2005 pp. xii-1). ...
... Genderandgenderdifferencehaveplayedafamiliarpartinthesocietaldiscourseofstresseversincethelatenineteenth-centurywhenwomenwereafflicted withnervousdiseasessuchashysteriaandneurastheniainunprecedentednumbers and talk of 'nerves' was rampant (Becker, 2005). Feminist scholars have long viewed nineteenth-century nervous illness as a socially sanctioned means of expressing women's unhappiness with the status quo -a far safer alternative than agitation for legal, political, and economic rights (Showalter, 1993;Smith-Rosenberg,1985;Smith-RosenbergandRosenberg,1973;Ussher,1992). ...
... Direwarnings,intheformoffear-inducingrhetoric,areissuedaboutthehavoc stress can wreak on body and mind. Combat metaphors abound: Stress 'kills'; the cortisol that pumps through our systems under conditions of chronic stress may be 'sabotaging our bodies' (Becker, 2005). Information on the connection betweenstressandabroadspectrumofills-fromcardiovasculardiseasetobeing overweight-iswidelydisseminated.IntheABCspecial'S-T-R-E-S-SHurts:A Wake-upCallforWomen',stressisdescribedasa'destructiveforce.'Thenarratorofthespecial,NancySnydermanMDintroducestheprogramthisway: ...
Article
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The concept of stress has become an important vehicle for explaining human dilemmas, at least in part because of the variety of social functions it performs. In the United States the contemporary discourse of stress and the metaphors associated with it pervade both academic and popular accounts of women’s stress, emphasizing the stressful nature of working motherhood. The social origins of the tensions in working mothers’ lives are obscured in the rush to help women calm down so that they can defend against assaults on their immune systems. I argue that the feminized, medicalized discourse of stress offers an ultimately unworkable resolution of societal tensions centering around work and family. By means of an aspirational rhetoric related to the achievement of ‘balance’ it reinforces the dominant culture’s historical attachment to the separate spheres, thereby reaffirming women’s natural place in the social order as nurturers and domestic laborers.
... Realmente, durante os anos 1970, a demanda por terapia cresceu e o número de psicólogos clínicos nos EUA triplicou (BORSTELMANN, 2012, p. 125). Desde a década de 1980, um número cada vez maior de críticos registra o surgimento da cultura terapêutica e a consequente despolitização da sociedade (BECKER, 2005;ILLOUZ, 2008;WRIGHT, 2011;STEIN, 2009). ...
Chapter
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Este texto pretende contribuir com uma discussão sobre a mídia e sua interface com a política no Brasil durante o processo de redemocratização, situado a partir de meados da década de 1970.
... Therapeutic frameworks are not limited to professionals. They may also be found in popular self-help books and groups, media representations of the psychological, and ideas that emerge when these professional and public arenas combine (Becker 2005). McGee (2005) posits that self-help literature appeals to contemporary Americans due to current conditions: the dismantling of social safety nets and lifelong marriage and work becoming anachronistic. ...
Thesis
This dissertation analyzes how alcoholics undergo a moral transformation using Alcoholics Anonymous and other cultural resources. Based upon two years of field research among self-identified recovering alcoholics in Austin, Texas, I inquire into the central problem they faced when they were drinking, when they stopped, and when they were rebuilding their lives: the questions Who am I? and How should I live? Participant-observation in their recovery-related and day-to-day activities, analysis of face-to-face interactions, semi-structured interviews, and examination of diaries, letters, and emails reveal how their drinking selves were a set of relations between their bodies, alcohol, and material engagements with people and things in a social world. When they stopped drinking, they learned to identify certain relations as virtuous or vicious, and reconfigured their habitual ways of engaging with the world to embody virtues. Alcohol’s physical effects occur within self-interpreting beings with values and purposes. For people immersed in American self-help culture, alcohol is a tool for self-improvement and achieving social goals. Alcohol’s effects – loosened muscles, lowered heart rate, euphoria – have any number of qualities. My informants picked up those relevant to their purposes. Those qualities became available as sign-vehicles that signified characteristics of social personae they aspired to be: an elegant tango dancer; a man with swagger; a good wife. When people stopped drinking, they built a new basis for living by avoiding habits that signified vices, such as dishonesty, and adopting ones that signified virtues, such as honesty. They learned to make these evaluations from other recovering alcoholics. They did not follow rules or norms. They learned a mode of moral reasoning in which they formed relations of likeness between instances of behavior, both theirs’ and others’. They learned to exercise virtue at the right time, to the right person, in the right way, for the right reasons. Their interpretations depended on frameworks that include mood and American notions of ethical conduct. My informants also rescaled how they experienced their minds. When distressed, their minds seemed “big,” and they exploited the materiality of practices such as writing to make their minds seem “small.” This work uses phenomenological and semiotic analysis to contribute to studies of personhood, ethics, and materiality. Studying addiction and recovery helps us understand the relationships between people and things in the world, the formation of disposition as an individual and social process, and modes of moral reasoning people use in changing their dispositions. An analysis that links physiological and meaning-making processes bridges an analytic gap between biology and culture.
... Moreover, women's practices of active self-disclosure and sharing of narratives of personal suffering may be understood through the therapeutic culture lens. It was initially critiqued for fostering a preoccupation with the self over communal bonds and civic responsibility (Becker 2005;Rieff 1966), and for encouraging narratives of vulnerability and socially disengaged narcissism birthing new forms of social control (Furedi 2004). Recent studies laud the therapeutic ethos for its emancipatory value (Wright 2008). ...
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Patriarchal bargains have been studied in many settings as a strategy that helps women circumvent constraints and forge spaces for individual empowerment. Despite the growing use of mediated communication, little is known about how patriarchal bargains are enacted and realized within online interactions such as in discussion forums. By analyzing how Chinese unwed single mothers renegotiate the state's oppressive population control and gender policies through their online activity, this study proposes the concept of "online patriarchal bargain" to extend patriarchal bargain theory to women's Internet use. It further explores linkages between social support and patriarchal bargain to elucidate how support is integral to enacting agency in the face of forbidding systemic constraints. The findings also delve into the role of therapeutic culture in the day-today experiences of women, especially those in marginalized communities.
... Empowerment under neoliberalism instead becomes the extent to which one can adequately care for and maintain oneself, which finds its roots in psychotherapy and pharmaceuticals, but also quickly becomes cosmetic surgery, diets, and enhancement garments. 24 Important for the current research, empowerment under neoliberalism also means the extent to which one can give an account of oneself as empowered. That is, it becomes important to be able to speak as if one is empowered. ...
Article
This study uses Critical Discourse Analysis to investigate how young women navigate discourses of feminism and compulsory romance under neoliberalism. Groups of young women were asked to discuss their romantic relationships with a moderator. The results demonstrate that the young women used discourses of liberation and empowerment to challenge compulsory romantic discourses, thereby emphasizing their independence. However, they also utilized discourses of desirability, which emphasized their ability to obtain a mate, and therefore, reinforced those romantic discourses they were challenging. This study emphasized the difficulty feminist discourses face under neoliberalism and the delicate navigation required by women constituted by them.
... Although feminist scholars have critiqued the psychologization of empowerment, feminist psychologists have also been complicit in this psychologization. In "The myth of empowerment: Women and the therapeutic culture in America," Becker (2005) argues that despite feminism's original focus on structural critique, feminist therapists transformed the concepts of power and empowerment from power as access to material resources to empowerment as a quality internal to the individual. In feminist therapy, empowerment is reframed as access to individual psychological resources -"Empowerment is used to induce in women the sense of power, competence, self-esteem, and freedom to make choices in life in the absence of any significant structural change in social conditions" (p. ...
Chapter
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The encounters between feminism and psychology have taken various forms. Previously, I have structured these encounters in terms of a tripartite framework: feminism and/in/as psychology (Rutherford & Pettit, 2015). “Feminism and psychology” refers to the relationship between a political/cultural movement and a scientific discipline, and highlights the efforts of participants in each to problematize, or distance from, the other. “Feminism in psychology” refers to the critiques of psychology from within, foregrounding the interventions of self-identified feminists in psychology and their attempts to alter its methods, epistemologies, theories, and practices. Finally, “feminism as psychology/psychology as feminism” explores the conceptual and cultural linkages and elisions between the two, or the ways in which feminism has become psychologized, and psychology has absorbed feminist critique into its “business as usual.” In this chapter, I explore the encounters between feminism and P/psychology by asking the questions: How, where, in what forms, and with what consequences have feminism and P/psychology related to one another? Under what intellectual, cultural, economic, and political conditions have they parted ways, emulsified, or made common cause, and to what intellectual and material effects? I use three United-States-based case studies spanning the 1950s to the present, that exemplify the porous boundaries of P/psychology, highlighting the non-academic, non-disciplinary territories where feminism and P/psychology have come together in diverse ways. I conclude that only by attending to these diverse territories can we account for and understand the ubiquity, appeal, and influence of psychological thinking in society, and unpack the influence of feminism and psychology on gender ideologies.
... We define disempowerment as a process of clouding, adulterating, or limiting the client's awareness, usually in order to maintain the status quo. Disempowerment also occurs when the client lacks the ability to control different situations (Becker, 2005). Disempowering a client undermines those traits they require to make healthy therapeutic progress (Charnofsky, 1971). ...
Article
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This article explores the role of therapist self-disclosure in clinical settings. Distinctions are made between the enmeshed concepts of privacy, secrecy, and confidentiality to elucidate the role of ignorance in maintaining the power dynamics in therapeutic relationships. While some measure of privacy is essential to counseling practice, secretive behavior (in which the counselor divulges too little about themselves) can have a negative impact on the therapeutic relationship and the client’s therapeutic outcomes. There is, therefore, an under-appreciated and delicate balancing act between withholding information to protect the client and the counselor and revealing enough personal details to empower the client’s recovery. While it is difficult, if not impossible, to establish hard-and-fast rules for when and what personal details counselors should disclose, understanding the negative effects of secrecy and the nature of ignorance it engenders provides counselors with the tools to identify beneficial self-disclosure and detrimental withholding.
... From a Foucauldian perspective, the dominance of therapy and psychological theories and practices in contemporary Western culture has been interpreted as a form of governmentality that intends to shape and channel subjectivity through self-inspection and self-examination (Rose, 1990). Feminist scholars have especially demystified the claim to women's empowerment advocated by psy professionals (Becker, 2005). Eva Illouz (2008), while recognizing the value of these critical approaches, underscores the need to analyse therapeutic discourse from within its own horizon of presuppositions and claims. ...
Article
This article examines women’s tantric retreats in Northwest Europe aimed at developing female sexual subjectivity. Based on ethnographic study and in-depth interviews, it argues that the retreats induced among participants critical distancing from socially dominant representations of (self-)objectified femininity and pornified female sexuality. It highlights how, through foregrounding a view of the female sex as sacred, the workshops fostered experiences of embodying the divine as grounds for female worthiness. It further illustrates how intimate touch among women and self-touch were encouraged as ways to establish an erotic connection with a vital flow beyond a narrow focus on sexual activity.
... 443) 1 In Gill's critique, it is noted that women, particularly white, middle-upper SES women, are uniquely positioned to undertake the "work upon the self" that a neoliberal regime requires. 2 This "work upon the self" is scaffolded not only by psychologized concepts like "empowerment," but by an extensive network of practices from makeover programs to dieting, to psychotherapy, to cosmetic surgery, to psychopharmaceuticals and sexuopharmaceuticals, 3 to self-help (Becker, 2005;Ehrenreich & English, 1979;Gillespie, 1996;Harjunen, 2016;Illouz, 2008;McGee, 2005;Rimke, 2000). The psydisciplines are complicit in many of these practices, and thus are co-participants in ambitious and continuous projects of gendered self-transformation, even providing interventions when the transformations fall short of their promise. ...
Article
Numerous feminist scholars have argued that women, especially young women, have been constructed as ideal neoliberal subjects. Informed by Foucauldian approaches that extend neoliberalism beyond a set of free market principles to a dynamic that creates new forms of subjectivity, these scholars have demonstrated the elisions between “postfeminism” and neoliberalism in the positioning of young women as consumers, self-helpers, and “empowered” agents par excellence. The psy-disciplines have actively participated in gendering neoliberal subjectivity and I selectively review feminist critiques of this complicity. These critiques problematize discourses of empowerment, agency, and choice, even as they have seeped into feminist psychology itself. I then consider the theoretical resources that are available within and beyond feminist psychology to disrupt and even displace neoliberal forms of subjectivity. Building on insights from psychosocial studies, intersectional and decolonial approaches, and critical history and conjunctural thinking, I brainstorm some alternatives that feminist psychologists could offer.
... Att se pratandet om hur man mår som en nödvändig eller välgörande praktik benämns en terapeutisk kultur(Johansson 2010, 133;Becker 2005;Furedi 2004; McLeod och Wright 2009). ...
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Bloggen är fylld av maktförhandlingar där sociala regler för samvaro upprättas och utmanas. I min avhandling undersöker jag hur identifikationen ätstörd görs i tretton svenskspråkiga flickors bloggar (skrivna 2007-2011) som ingår i nätgemenskapen Ungdomar.se. För att analysera maktdynamik i bloggarna och inom nätgemenskapen används begreppet taktik, som tillskrivs de bloggande flickorna som inte helt förfogar över bloggen eftersom de inte kan blogga om vad de vill och oavhängigt från moderatorer och regler. Därmed studerar jag hur strukturer och normer kring ätstörningar och flickskap upprätthålls men också omförhandlas av bloggskribenter, bloggläsare och moderatorer samt i förhållande till forskare, läkarkår, skola, vänner och familj. Ytterligare studeras hur bloggande flickor framställs i tidningsartiklar och krönikor (skrivna 2001-2011). Tidningsartiklarna och krönikorna visar sig återproducera en syn på flickors bloggande som oviktig. Därtill upplevs flickorna som offer, hotfulla eller problematiska, vilket inbegriper nedvärdering. I avhandlingen visar jag hur rätt flickskap och rätt kropp sys ihop men även iscensätts för att passa in och organiseras hierarkiskt. Genomgående visar jag hur normaliseringar alltid är kontextbundna. I vissa samband är den ätstörda flickkroppen normaliserad och i andra är den icke-ätstörda flickkroppen normaliserad. Slutligen resonerar jag kring hur de bloggande flickorna genom olika taktiker manipulera och gör motstånd mot givna ramar och skapa på så sätt ett eget handlingsutrymme. Taktikerna inbegriper att ta plats, synliggöra, dölja, frigöra, skriva om känslor på ett sätt som inte uppfattas som normativt feminint, och inte tillfriskna. Genom taktikerna görs en ätstörd identifikation men samtidigt kringgår de nätgemenskapens regler enligt vilken det inte är tillåtet att skriva om ätstörningar på ett sätt som kan inspirera andra.
... It was common for CEO staff to understand themselves as providing forms of 'therapeutic' support to clients. As Illouz (2008) and others (Cruikshank 1993;Trilling 1955) have noted, the model of the therapist-patient relationship is a powerful cultural trope − highly visible within popular culture, as Becker (2005) has noted − which "speaks to individuals' desire for self-improvement and unconditional support" (Schlesinger et al., 2015a: 68). In this context, it is perhaps unsurprising that adviser-client interactions sometimes came to resemble forms of therapy; however as illustrated by the vignette above, individual CEO staff dealt with the fluidity of the boundary between what could crudely be termed 'emotional support' vis-à-vis 'therapy' in very different ways. ...
Article
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In recent years, the UK government and policymakers have sought to maximise the impact of the creative economy via a programme of targeted intervention. Intermediary agencies - those organisations that sit between government and policymakers on one hand, and creative practitioners and microbusinesses on the other - are increasingly seen as crucial to the functioning of the creative economy. This article reports on the activities of one creative intermediary - Cultural Enterprise Office - based in Glasgow, Scotland. CEO's remit is to help creatives become more 'businesslike', and they provide or facilitate access to training and skills development. The article draws on interviews conducted with CEO staff and clients, and ethnographic material gathered from observation of CEO's working practices. I explore how creatives narrativise their personal and professional development in relation to intermediaries, and demonstrate the tension at the core of CEO's practice - between their remit to support a skills and employability agenda and their understanding of the limitations of this agenda. I also explore the emotional component of business support, which arises in response to the extreme individualisation associated with creative work, and the precarious working conditions that creatives face. The rationale for writing this article stems from the fact that the creative economy is now a globalised concept, with many countries looking to the UK for guidance on growing the sector. Yet little is known about what services creatives draw down from intermediaries, why and when, or how they understand the role of intermediaries.
... Thus, there exists a very strong correlation between psychotherapeutic clinical practices and therapeutic culture and as McLeod and Wright (2003: 2) explicate, they "must be understood as discreet entities that are nonetheless intimately connected". McLeod and Wright (2009: 123) following Becker (2005), Furedi (2004), Lasch (1979) and Rieff (1966) define therapeutic culture as an array of social practices and cultural discourses "unified by the imperatives of talk and self-disclosure, the privileging of the psychological and emotional realms, and a heightened concern with the self and interior life". In their cross-generational research on emotional and relationship experiences, McLeod and Wright (2009;cf. ...
... The personalizing and psychologizing of the political keeps women away from the places where they can actually make a difference in their lives: the social, economic, and political arenas. Hence, with Becker (2005), I think we ought "to question . . . how the therapeutic culture has served . . . ...
... Baste decir que dicha teología es puramente expresiva y se centra en el deseo. Las referencias a Dios en la tradición mentalista de la autoayuda americana de esta época entienden a Dios como " una turbina de la voluntad individual " (Becker, 2005 , p. 45, traducción propia ). El hombre es un ser espiritual capaz de atraer la presencia divina; los estados es-pirituales —lo que llamaríamos ahora psicológicos— influyen decisivamente sobre la vida mental y el cuerpo. ...
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Las páginas siguientes constituyen un trabajo de sociología de la cultura. En ellas se analiza críticamente la primera etapa de la tradición del pensamiento positivo que se desarrolla desde finales del siglo XIX a la actual psicología positiva. El artículo se enmarca dentro de una crítica cultural (en la línea de Norbert Elias) al llamado “evangelio psicoterapeútico”, que gira en torno a un ideal de felicidad puramente psicológico y culturalmente obligatorio. Para este trabajo el género de autoayuda es crucial como medio de difusión de pautas y modelos culturales.
... The prominence of the disease model (McHugh & Slavney, 1998, pp.14-16) and weighing of risks creates challenges for psychiatrists faced with a more questioning patient population. The perfect patient is one who is aware of the possibilities for treatment, can actively take part in education, and is capable of self-care (Becker, 2005) and monitoring to ensure the chosen treatment is carried out. The impact of such regulation on one's life must be a weighty prospect (Busfield, 1996, p.233), and it is often one that remains hidden until the patient has accepted treatment and is living with the label of "mood disorder" (Penfold & Walker, 1983, p.188). ...
... Another strategy might be to blame clients, who are defined as unmanageable (Ledoux, 2004). Social workers might also drift into a therapeutic profession, as this may create the illusion of having more power over social problems, so that social workers as well as clients experience, paradoxically, an increased sense of control with minimal impact on the oppressive social context within which they are located (Becker, 2005). Such is the case in some social work practices in the USA, where social workers are seen as abandoning their mission and becoming individual therapists instead of social workers (Specht and Courtney, 1994). ...
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The logic of managerialism is seen as a rationale for the limited scope for discretion of social workers and also complicates the recognition of the inherently ambiguous nature of social work. In this article, various strategies in dealing with managerialism and ambiguity are identified: social work can either attempt to escape from ambiguity or embrace (the discussion on) ambiguity as an opportunity. It is stated that, although social work can resist a managerial logic, it might also attempt to escape ambiguity all the same. We argue that embracing ambiguity implies an ironical perspective in social work. This refers to an approach in social work that is open and undetermined by its very essence, as it enables social workers to remain sensitive to the complexity of their work and to stay engaged with the public debate about the social and political meaning of their work and its flaws, while simultaneously searching for new, undoubtedly flawed, answers.
... One could make the point that women are more likely than men to suffer from mental health disorders. According to Becker (2005), 84% of the people who sought professional help from a private therapist in the US were women, although the upside of this might be that women also frequently find it easier to adapt in the therapeutic culture. ...
Thesis
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This PhD dissertation examines various theories in relation to the importance of psychology’s influence on Western culture in recent decades: the triumph of the therapeutic, the therapeutic ethos and the therapeutic culture. My interest for this topic stems from the acknowledgement that psychology as a science, a profession and a cultural artifact increasingly appears to exert an influence on ever new areas of Norwegian society. The purpose of the thesis has been to complement the Norwegian psychology profession’s self-understanding with a more complex picture of psychology, which, despite the important role it serves in today’s individualised culture and professionalised welfare state, may also have some unintended side effects. In four different studies I have chosen to particularly focus on the aspect of the cultural influence of psychology - more specifically on the notion of the therapeutic ethos/culture - as a specific cultural hegemony in which individuals come to make sense of their lives which has not previously been systematically studied or critically examined in a Norwegian societal context.
... In the public arena of musical performances, the resources are performed in a broader context implying some possibilities for contextual change. With regard to the potentials for empowerment, the possibility of change at the level of broader systems surrounding the individual is crucial (Becker, 2005;Dalton, Elias, & Wandersman, 2001). However, the relational and contextual aspects of the individual's use of resources highlight the value of an ecological/contextual approach to music therapy, such as public performances, in terms of possibilities for empowerment. ...
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To date, discourse on the use of performance in music therapy has mostly focused on the potential risks and benefits to the health of music therapy participants. This article focuses instead on the resources that can come into play when music therapy participants perform publically, drawing upon findings from a qualitative case study of seven women who created and performed a musical in a maximum-security prison in Australia. In-depth interviews with the women were analysed using a constructivist approach to grounded theory analysis, yielding five main resources as both precursors and outcomes to performance in music therapy: courage, readiness, exchange, support and trust (CREST). These findings are discussed in relation to resource-oriented music therapy and provide contextual information as to when, rather than if, performance may be considered therapeutically valuable in music therapy.
... Those community psychologists' who have recently contributed to develop a critical vision of Positive Psychology (Campbell & Murray, 2004;Fox & Prilleltensky, 1997;Murray, 2007;Zani, 2007), argue for the need to abandon the 'old' paradigms based on an individualistic idea of self-realisation and on a sense of selfimprovement based on private effort and a narrow idea of the social. This approach to health promotion, which follows the movement of Critical Psychology (Baumeister, 1991;Becker, 2005;Becker & Marecek, 2008;Sampson, 1993;Taylor, 1985;Woolfolk & Wasserman, 2005), gives an impulse to develop 'new' paradigms, focusing on processes, actions and patterns of change and innovation, where the differences in gender, class and ethnicity, and power relations are not neglected or obscured, but highlighted, denounced and transformed. It is understandable that the purpose of community psychologists adhering to this critical perspective is not so much to emphasise happiness, gratification and the well-being of the individual, but to pay attention to the fallout that these individual psychological conditions may have on interpersonal relations and, more generally, on the organisation of society. ...
Article
Informed by a community psychology perspective, which takes an integrated and systemic, or holistic view of health and health promotion, this study presents quali‐quantitative analysis of health documents, produced by the World Health Organization (WHO) over the last 30 years. Textual analysis facilitated the identification of the typical specificities of international WHO health promotion documents, highlighting the lexical contexts of health promotion, particularly in relation to responsibilities for health and the concept of community health. Further, this textual analysis demonstrated how these understandings of health and health promotion have evolved over the last 30 years. Drawing on theory from within the field of community psychology, the changes proposed throughout international WHO documentation in conceptualizations of health and health promotion and in defining strategies to achieve the stated goals of health promotion are discussed critically. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
... participation in acts that reflect an erotic predilection for sadomasochistic and fetishistic scenarios) as a psychological treatment, framing their sessions with clients not only as healthful but as beneficial for the men involved. In exploring this particular discourse, I seek to shed light on an erotic subculture (professional erotic dominance) that has received little attention from researchers, as well as contributing to a literature that explores rhetoric about 'the therapeutic' beyond traditional clinical settings (Becker, 2005;Cloud, 1998;Illouz, 2008). Specifically, I engage in the 'prosex' feminist conversation about the benefits and drawbacks of recasting erotic labor as a form of 'sex therapy' by exploring the way it is conceptualized by some of its practitioners 'on the ground'. ...
Article
While I was conducting field research on professional dominatrices (‘pro-dommes’), an unexpected discourse emerged: respondents repeatedly characterized themselves as ‘therapists’, speaking about their work as a form of psychological treatment for their clients. This article examines the way they speak about BDSM (Bondage, Discipline, Sadism, Masochism) as therapeutic. Data are derived from in-depth, semi-structured interviews with 66 female pro-dommes. The rhetoric used by participants in this form of commercial eroticism ‘on the ground’ has implications for feminist theoretical claims about the potential value of classifying erotic labor as ‘sex therapy’ as well as resonance with other socially stigmatized erotic practices.
... Introduction C elebrity talk-shows, best-selling autobiographies, and the proliferation of self-improvement books all point to a cultural fascination with confessional narratives and strategies for better understanding the self. Such phenomena The Talking Cure in Everyday Life McLeod & Wright are frequently linked to the rise of therapeutic culture, a diverse range of social practices and cultural discourses unified by the imperatives of talk and selfdisclosure, the privileging of the psychological and emotional realms, and a heightened concern with the self and interior life (Becker, 2005;Furedi, 2004;Lasch, 1979;Rieff, 1966). Therapeutic modes of thought thus extend beyond the clinical encounter, influencing everyday interactions and practices. ...
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This article examines the insinuation of therapeutic culture into everyday life from the vantage point of a qualitative cross-generational study of economically marginalized young women and their mothers. Against dominant assessments of therapeutic culture — as representing cultural decline, social regulation or transformation — we draw on interview narratives to analyse its practical and situated effects. We argue that desires for disclosure and open communication are not trivial or narcissistic and instead interpret them as productive emotional strategies for managing difficult circumstances, and for engendering a sense of competence and possibility.Thus a concern with`talkingthings through' is neither ineffectual nor adequately understood as a manifestation of an ahistorical feminine alignment with emotions and interior life. While we do not dismiss regulatory aspects of therapeutic culture, our analysis offers an alternative and empirically based account of the ways cultural imperatives are enacted across generations.
... The scientific quest for 'healthy mindedness,' as William James put it (1902James put it ( /1994, is by no means a novel development (Becker, 2005). Prescriptions for attaining happiness and improving our 'selves' have been ubiquitous in American life since colonial times. ...
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Positive psychology has figured itself as no less than a revolutionary reorientation of psychology, one that makes individual `flourishing' the primary object of study and intervention. There are clear comparisons to be made between this movement and earlier ones that have embraced both individualism and an ethos of adjustment, such as the popular mind cures of the late 19th century and the influential mental hygiene movement of the early 20th century. We argue for a focus beyond the individual in isolation, a perspective that takes in the totality of the social environment and an ethical stance that values social engagement and activism. We further call for more nuanced conceptions of happiness, virtue, and strengths, as well as for more socially informed theorizing about human flourishing. Finally, we suggest that positive psychology, with its growing assortment of applied uses, serves to address the acute market pressures facing clinical psychologists today.
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Building on Pia’s notion of the ‘ethical fix’ this article shows how ‘emotional fixes’ aim at bringing emotions into balance at a feminist NGO in Dhaka. Promoting a non interventionist stance in which its advisors do not directly tell their clients what to do, the organisation provides legal advice and counselling to women facing problems in their marriages. Emotional fixes such as work done to build clients’ inner strength, cool ‘hot’ emotions and shame abusive husbands enables the advisors to reconcile what appear from the outside to be contradictory positions: feminism on the one hand, and adherence to hierarchical kinship norms on the other. This means that more intractable issues are avoided and the potentially contradictory ethical stances of the advisors obscured, for emotions are malleable and fluid, and injunctions to cultivate or discipline them can be put to work in a wide range of ways. Yet whilst the anti-politics of the emotional fix can cut both ways – concealing both emancipatory and conservative politics - like Pia’s ethical fix, it remains piecemeal and fragile.
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The chapter argues that the therapeutic field serves as an important site in which gendered contradictions of capitalism are lived out and negotiated. I discuss women’s experiences of and encounters with the therapeutic field, and explore what they find meaningful in therapeutic engagements, and how they make sense of and seek to transform gender relations and identities through therapeutic engagements. The therapeutic field provides women with space for cultural critique of gender, and allows them to take issue with a “deep story of strong femininity” that perceives gender as a pivotal source of domination. Contemporary capitalist society is seen as subjecting women to masculine values and denying vulnerability, while longstanding gendered socialization practices are seen as cultivating women as “good girls” who sacrifice themselves for others and end up reproducing detrimental gendered relations. I suggest that while not often explicitly feminist, many therapeutic practices draw on second-wave feminist thought and techniques in articulating and working on gendered experiences and grievances. I conclude that in therapeutic engagements, personal and social transformations are entangled in complex ways. Although these engagements tend to privilege individualized strategies for self-change, they also open up space to collectively make sense of and contest gendered power and forge solidarity among women.
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Achtsamkeit kann als ein Orientierungspunkt und eine Praktik im Kontext gesellschaftlicher Therapeutisierungsprozesse verstanden werden. Die Bezugnahme auf den Begriff Achtsamkeit in der therapeutischen Praxis der Selbsthilfegruppe kann psychologisch-individualisierende und depolitisierende (Um-)Deutungen subjektiver Erfahrungen beinhalten. Sie kann im Gruppenzusammenhang aber auch positiv gemeinsame Bezugsrahmen markieren. Illustriert wird dies durch die Analyse einer Passage aus einem Interview von einer Teilnehmerin an einer psychologisch-therapeutisch orientierten Frauen-Selbsthilfegruppe.
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The Routledge International Handbook of Global Therapeutic Cultures explores central lines of enquiry and seminal scholarship on therapeutic cultures, popular psychology, and the happiness industry. Bringing together studies of therapeutic cultures from sociology, anthropology, psychology, education, politics, law, history, social work, cultural studies, development studies, and American Indian studies, it adopts a consciously global focus, combining studies of the psychologisation of social life from across the world. Thematically organised, it offers historical accounts of the growing prominence of therapeutic discourses and practices in everyday life, before moving to consider the construction of self-identity in the context of the diffusion of therapeutic discourses in connection with the global spread of capitalism. With attention to the ways in which emotional language has brought new problematisations of the dichotomy between the normal and the pathological, as well as significant transformations of key institutions, such as work, family, education, and religion, it examines emergent trends in therapeutic culture and explores the manner in which the advent of new therapeutic technologies, the political interest in happiness, and the radical privatisation and financialisation of social life converge to remake self-identities and modes of everyday experience. Finally, the volume features the work of scholars who have foregrounded the historical and contemporary implication of psychotherapeutic practices in processes of globalisation and colonial and postcolonial modes of social organisation. Presenting agenda-setting research to encourage interdisciplinary and international dialogue and foster the development of a distinctive new field of social research, The Routledge International Handbook of Global Therapeutic Cultures will appeal to scholars across the social sciences with interests in the advance of therapeutic discourses and practices in an increasingly psychologised society.
Article
Recent leadership initiatives encourage children, particularly girls, to defy gender stereotypes. Yet, those creating and participating in these initiatives, like all members of our culture, have their own gender biases, have received gender socialization, and live in a society where the masculine is more valued than the feminine. We conducted participant observation of two gender-segregated leadership summer camps to examine how camp counselors and directors teach leadership to boys and girls. We find counselors unintentionally reinforce gender stereotypes and promote gender-typical behavior while attempting to break down these same stereotypes and behavioral expectations. We argue the gender-segregated environment leads to a problematic “separate but equal” approach to thinking about leadership that advances the individual abilities of boys and girls but does less to decrease gender disparities in emotional development, physical competition, or leadership styles. This research contributes to our understanding of how well-intentioned organizations and authorities, seeking to minimize gender disparities and develop strong leaders, unwittingly reproduce gender differences and perpetuate gender inequality.
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Review of the 1993 film "Boxing Helena" by Jennifer Lynch.
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African writers have shown how African belief in fatalism has played out. Such is the artistic rendition of the famous Benin invasion by the British empire in 1879. The invasion of the Benin Kingdom under the leadership of Oba Ovonronwem has been documented and interpreted in play text by Ola Rotimi and Ahmed Yerima. Another effort to render of this history through the camera lens has been done by Lancelot Imasuen. This paper examines the dramaturgy of fatalism and mysticism in Nollywood home video films. It argues that Lancelot Imasuen’sInvasion 1897is apt in its crystallization of fatalistic realities in the African context.
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Views on marriage, sexuality, and gender changed remarkably in Western culture during the twentieth century. It has been argued that this change is, in part, the result of a therapeutic turn, which means that, after the Second World War, different psychological and therapeutic ideas, ideals, and techniques have increased in prevalence within culture as a whole, religion included. This article examines how the rise of different psychotherapeutic discourses changed the view on homosexuality in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland and how this cultural shift constructed religious and sexual subjectivity. The material for the analysis consists of memoranda, handbooks, articles, official statements, and reports of the Church and of the Family Affairs Committee of the Church. A close reading of the material shows that the therapeutic turn of the Finnish Church resulted from a turn to a psychoanalytical understanding of the human psyche. Within the new paradigm, homosexuality is seen as an identity and a trait of personality rather than a sin or a sickness, as it had been understood earlier. Instead of protecting society from homosexuality, the Church aims at accepting and supporting homosexual individuals.
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The idea of empowering others to benefit them as well as the greater social good flourished in the field of social work and the discipline of community psychology. The path to empowerment for those who have been oppressed is said to contain elements of consciousness-raising, education, and solidarity toward social action. Empowerment is a key concept in understanding women's development and freedom within the context of patriarchy. But today critics worry that the idea of empowerment has lost its political framing and connection to collective activism and instead has been reduced to a feeling of empowerment in a self-improvement paradigm.
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Using an interdisciplinary approach, my dissertation examines the intersection of womanhood and madness in German-language literature and culture. While scholars have studied the madwoman of the previous centuries extensively, my dissertation presents the first comprehensive study of representations of female madness from 1894 onward. Since the late 19th century, female authors from Germany, Austria, and Switzerland have been appropriating discourses of madness in order to critique the contradictory ramifications of mandatory adherence to the construct of femininity. Employing theories of Judith Butler and Michel Foucault, I argue that the madness discourse represents a key site where writers negotiate the ongoing hegemony of societal ideologies defining the special status of the female psyche, body, and sexuality as entities which need to be monitored, shaped or optimized. My research thus redeploys female madness as a research category. While previously applied almost exclusively to the realities of white middle-class women, I argue for an intersectional conception of critical madness studies which takes account of gender, race, and religion to offer culturally specific insights into the lives of German women from diverse backgrounds. My study addresses texts by well-known authors, such as Hedwig Dohm, Christa Wolf, Ingeborg Bachmann, Elfriede Jelinek, and May Ayim, as well as lesser known writers, such as Christine Lavant and Mariella Mehr.
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The essays in this book show in different ways and in a wide range of contexts how emotion is implicated in every area of our personal and public lives, relationships and institutions. Various psychosocial theories and per spectives have been deployed by the contributors to examine the different ways in which emotion provides a psychosocial bridge between the inner and outer worlds, binding them together, through the shifting processes of history, discourse and unconscious phantasy.1 Clearly there are many ‘psy- chosocial’ approaches. They vary in the kind of psychology being deployed, as illustrated by the various forms of psychoanalytic psychology, identity theory and biographic narrative approaches to be found here, and the wider range to be found elsewhere. Along with this diversity in their models of the ‘psycho’, psychosocial approaches also vary in the ways that the ‘social’ can be theoretically and/or empirically present, with sociological theory (Rustin, Chapter 2), politics (Evans, Chapter 6; Yates, Chapter 7) and history (Jones, Chapter 16), cultural forms and artefacts (Powell, Chapter 8), policy studies (Cooper, Chapter 13), criminology (Gelsthorpe, Chapter 14) and education policy (Price, Chapter 15) being among the ways in which the ‘social’ has been presented to readers of this book.
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Der von diesem Handbuch abgesteckte und bearbeitete Themenkomplex ist erfahrungsgemäß mit einer Reihe von Fragen und Mutmaßungen, möglicherweise auch Missverständnissen befrachtet, so dass es uns erforderlich erscheint, vorab auf vier zentrale Sachverhalte hinzuweisen: Erstens: Dies ist kein weiteres (Hand-)Buch über Therapie(n) und Therapie-Praxis. Vielmehr stehen hier die gesellschaftlichen Prozesse einer umfassenden Therapeutisierung von sozialen Ungleichheitsverhältnissen, ökonomischen Interessensgegensätzen, politischen Konfliktkonstellationen und kulturellen Differenzen im Zentrum des Erkenntnisinteresses.
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It is impossible to think of social life without considering how it is held together by gift-exchange practices, yet breastmilk exchange is virtually absent in the literature on body gifting and tissue economies. The current volume seeks to redress this gap. In different ways, each chapter in the volume takes up the idea that breastfeeding is not just an aspect of maternal being or a bio-genetic relation between a mother and an infant, but an ethical relation that defines a particular form of give and take between two or more human beings, as well as work that women do. To this end, the volume collects some of the most recent and interesting study being carried out on and around the topic of breastmilk, and is positioned as part of an esteemed lineage of mostly feminist but always women-centred writing on breastfeding since the 1980s. This writing is distinct from how-to books on breastfeeding as it is primarily interested in questions of ethics and epistemology, philosophy and politics of breastmilk, and their effect on practice.
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Research on the effectiveness of psychotherapy has contributed to a contextual model that links therapeutic outcomes to a broad set of interacting factors, including the client’s involvement, the therapist’s techniques and the therapeutic relationship. The focus in this article is on the bidirectional nature of the therapeutic relationship, and more specifically on the clients’ contributions to the relationship with the music therapist. This focus is linked to current perspectives in music therapy that promote collaboration and equal relationship. The article reports on a multiple case study using video observation and research interviews with clients and their therapists, with an adapted Interpersonal Process Recall (IPR) procedure being used during the interviews. Five purposively selected episodes of clients’ contributions for the relationship were analyzed using a combination of narrative and interpretative methods. These episodes document clients’ active and reflexive commitment to the therapeutic relationship, and three interlinked commonalities are discussed: (1) the clients’ reflexivity regarding the asymmetric structure of the relationship; (2) the clients’ engagement for reciprocity in the relationship; and (3) the clients’ reflexivity related to their own needs in the relationship.
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Much has been written about the psychologization of different spheres of contemporary American culture (education, industrial–military complex, health care, etc.) from different disciplinary perspectives. In this article, I will discuss the concept of therapeutic culture in relation to religion in America. The essay will trace contemporary therapeutic culture back to the mind cure movement and “New Thought” and its concept of the instrumental power of thoughts. A variety of 20th century developments that can be framed both as secular and as religious or spiritual, such as positive thinking, self-help, 12-step programs, New Age, and the so-called Prosperity Gospel, have predecessors in New Thought. Furthermore, the essay will survey early influential works on therapeutic culture in America. Philip Rieff's Triumph of the Therapeutic (1966), Christopher Lasch's The Culture of Narcissism (1979), and Eva S. Moskowitz's more recent study In Therapy We Trust (2001) are based on the idea that traditional Protestant religion has been eroded and replaced by the therapeutic ethos. These authors are concerned that America has traded its soul for its psyche and has swapped religion for therapy. In contrast, Eva Illouz' Saving the Modern Soul (2008) introduces a more comprehensive understanding of the therapeutic discourse as a new cultural matrix that permeates society as a whole. Moreover, a discussion of different historical studies on the interrelation of Protestant religious cultures and therapeutic ethos in the United States will demonstrate that it is not simply a relationship of replacement but one of intricate interconnection and entanglement. The works under discussion show that clinical pastoral education programs, Alcoholics Anonymous, and the Salvation Army adapted psychology and therapy to facilitate religious counseling, to foster outreach to homeless men, and to create spiritual engagement and fellowship among inebriates. As I explore the relationship between therapeutic culture and religion in America, I will point out central themes, possible shortcomings of approaches to the therapeutic so far, and desirable avenues for future research into the interplay of the therapeutic and religion.
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