UPDATED: It’s All So Emotional: The Origins Of Our Degenerate, Therapeutic Culture

Christianity,Culture,Pop-Culture,Pseudo-intellectualism,Pseudoscience,Psychiatry,Psychology & Pop-Psychology,Religion


The media scrum had framed the Trump impeachment circus round II as an “emotional” affair.

Over and over again did the word “emotion” inform reporting, appear on the lips of legislators,  and culminate in an “emotional” catharsis in the Chamber, where the “affected” representatives told a captured audience how they suffered.

Where did this sick therapeutic culture originate? Where else but in America.

I recalled reviewing a book, in 2005, when London’s Jewish Chronicle was a serious magazine. What a relief it was, then, to learn that Jewish thinkers didn’t herald the therapeutic age, a fact that emerges from Andrew Heinze’s outstanding Jews and the American Soul.

In his examination of “why [between 1890 and 1945] psychology became a booming cultural industry, outstripping theology and philosophy as a guide for a literate mass audience seeking advice on how to live”, Andrew Heinze, a scholar, established that “America’s Protestant heritage yielded a powerful American interest in personal development and a massive audience for popular psychology”.

The rationality of the Enlightenment had come under fire from movements espousing mysticism, romanticism, and the occult. The ascendancy of “the psychological interpretive mode” between the 1880s and the 1920s was compatible with Christianity.

The new psychotherapies “had the drama of faith-healing”; the new psychotherapists, true to their Protestant heritage, spread the faith with evangelical zeal.

What do you know? In searching for an image to accompany this blog post, I came across what looks like a work of scholarship that affirms the Anglo-American origins of these leanings as well as the coercive, manipulative nature of the “therapeutic imperative”:

Therapy Culture explores the powerful influence of therapeutic imperative in Anglo-American societies. In recent decades virtually every sphere of life has become subject to a new emotional culture. Professor Furedi suggests that the recent cultural turn toward the realm of the emotions coincides with a radical redefinition of personhood. Increasingly vulnerability is presented as the defining feature of people’s psychology. Terms like people ‘at risk’, ‘scarred for life’ or ’emotional damage’ evoke a unique sense of powerlessness. Furedi questions the widely accepted thesis that the therapeutic turn represents an enlightened shift towards emotions. He claims that therapeutic culture is primarily about imposing a new conformity through the management of people’s emotions. Through framing the problem of everyday life through the prism of emotions, therapeutic culture incites people to feel powerless and ill. Drawing on developments in popular culture, political and social life, Furedi provides a path-breaking analysis of the therapeutic turn.

UPDATED: A fair point is made by our reader in the Comments Section. I am, however, making a philosophical, or theological, point about Judaism as opposed Christianity. Judaism is more legalistic. The supernatural, mysticism, romanticism, and the occult are more compatible with Christianity than with the rationalist morality of Judaism.


One thought on “UPDATED: It’s All So Emotional: The Origins Of Our Degenerate, Therapeutic Culture

  1. WP

    “A thousand things should have been said in ten words”, one of my favorite quotes. That’s how I feel whenever I read your work, and never more so than on subjects like this. Short version, I’m about as far from atheist as you can get, nevertheless I’m also vehemently nonreligious, and this column illustrates why. Once a person starts embracing ANY religion, it’s a short leap to embrace lunacy like believing in the tenets and salvation of psychotherapy. I have no idea of your personal background or ethnicity, and I sincerely have no desire to offend, but frankly I also find the Jews are at least as “disturbed” as any group, and their influence on America, especially the legacy and values of the founders, is questionable to put it politely. Say what you will about the Christians, and they probably deserve any criticism you care to level at them, the rise of our decadent and corrupt modern culture and Jewish influence have been too closely matched to be mere coincidence. Oh well, at least they don’t have the mindless nature of Islam, I ought to be grateful for that.
    I do think there is a great truth in “An unexamined life is not worth living”, and it’s possible for a human being to develop, but only with extreme deliberate and conscious efforts. It’s a pursuit that has endless opportunities for self-deception. Modern religion and psychology seem to both be dead-ends in that endeavor, they have devolved into a soothing balm designed to excuse and enable weakness, not conquer it.
    Taken as a whole, I find myself thinking, “Who ARE these people!?”, but I freely admit I’ve never fit into modern mass culture and society very well, so I suppose I’m the outlier,

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