Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Christopher Bollas on Shifts in Psychoanalysis and American Culture

"For decades thousands of Americans demonstrated moral courage when they trudged into their psychoanalyst's offices to encounter those parts of their own character that skewed their view of life and proved troublesome to others. In the early 1970's, however, psychoanalysis shifted from confrontation of the self's agency in creating mental pain to the self as a victim of the other's failures. This shift can be seen in the literature, in psychoanalysis but of course most obviously in the so-called "self-help" sections of the bookstores where one finds a very different quest, from self-confrontation, to self righteousness, and from taking responsibility for one's authorship of one's own mental life to blaming others for this. American culture now celebrates tales told by victims. And in the paranoid climate now thriving in the American right wing, especially, we find a search for perpetrators of misery (from immigrants to senators) and almost no insight into one's own destructiveness."

August 24th, 2010 (New York Times - Reader's Comments)

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