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22BD - BookNum:20639

Romance of American Psychology: Political Culture in the Age of Experts

Ellen Herman

Dewey Subject Code: 150
Description:  – Information about this book has been viewed 2643 times, 0 times previously this month.
Taking complementary approaches, these two authors examine the interrelationship of psychology and American culture and come to different conclusions to explain psychology's preeminent role in American life today. A psychotherapist and a teacher at the California School of Professional Psychology and at Saybrook Institute, Cushman shows how psychotherapy developed here and how it influenced the way Americans view themselves. Herman (social studies, Harvard) accounts for the unacknowledged role of behavioral scientists in shaping political and social policy in the United States over the last 50 years. In a series of related studies, covering such diverse areas as minstrel shows, mesmerism, psychoanalysis, comic strips, and advertising campaigns, Cushman examines the evolving concept of the individual in the United States and Western European society. Demonstrating that each era defines its concept of the self, Cushman contends that psychotherapy supports the individualism characteristic of 20th-century Americans: an "empty self," alienated from society and preoccupied with fulfillment through consumption. Herman surveys the role of behavioral science in shaping U.S. public and foreign policy beyond World War II. Academics and clinicians, mobilized to assist the war effort, conducted research on human behavior. After the war, these experts continued their research, advising politicians on matters relating to domestic and foreign policy including Project Camelot, race relations, the Kerner Commission on urban riots, and democratic movements in foreign countries. Clinical psychologists guided the transition from military to civilian life, shifting psychology's focus in the public mind from treatment of mental illness to promotion of mental health. Both books are recommended for academic and large public libraries where there is a focus on the history of ideas, psychology, and American culture. - Lucille Boone, San Jose P.L., Cal.

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