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Therapy Culture: Cultivating Vulnerability in an Uncertain Age Paperback – 13 Oct 2003

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge (13 Oct. 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 041532159X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415321594
  • Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 1.4 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 325,350 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


'Therapy is indeed the new opium of the people, as Frank Furedi makes clear in this fascinating, readable - and disturbing - book.' - Virginia Ironside, The Independent

'Can it really be such a bad thing that we are now more aware of the place of mental health in our make-up? Furedi leaves us in no doubt that the therapy culture has invaded our media, our workplace, our intimate relationships and our politics. It is an interesting polemic. We should be grateful for the balance this book inspires'
- Community Care 25/4/04

About the Author

Frank Furedi is Professor of Sociology at the University of Kent, Canterbury.

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Trying to make sense of the problems that confront us in a complex modern society is a challenge fraught with difficulty. Read the first page
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62 of 68 people found the following review helpful By Jon Holbrook on 23 Oct. 2003
Format: Paperback
With the title 'Therapy Culture' and the cover picture of a therapist's couch it is not immediately obvious why this book should be of interest to anyone outside the world of counselling. But titles and cover pages can be deceptive. Furedi observes that the notion of 'therapy' no longer refers to unusual problems or exotic states of mind. Everyday experiences are today readily given a psychological label like generalised anxiety disorder (being worried), social anxiety disorder (being shy), social phobia (being really shy), or free-floating anxiety (not knowing what you are worried about). Furedi shows that many everyday experiences are today medicalised and posed as a direct threat to one's emotional well-being. So therapy is not just about lying on the therapist's couch, it has become a way in which society expects individuals to understand and cope with life.
As a lawyer I was particularly interested in the chapter on therapeutic claim-making. Furedi argues that instead of looking to friends and informal networks for affirmation people nowadays tend to seek formal recognition by, for example, suing. Society's recognition of a variety of emotional injuries, such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or other hitherto unknown conditions has enabled people to seek formal recognition for a variety of issues. As one claimant in a sex discrimination case put it 'I knew that I had been the victim, but I needed others to know it'.
The strength of Furedi's book is that he not only describes the growth and prevalence of a therapeutic culture in Anglo-American societies but he explains why it matters. The therapeutic approach, argues Furedi, becomes a means through which individuals are not so much cured as placed in a state of recovery.
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40 of 44 people found the following review helpful By "muniramirza" on 17 Oct. 2003
Format: Paperback
Frank Furedi's latest book is a highly readable and compelling study into the rise of 'therapy culture' in contemporary society. For anyone who is disturbed by the excessive emotionalism of politics, public life and culture, this well-argued book provides a welcome antidote. Furedi conducts an alarming survey of the extent to which counselling and therapeutic policies have spread into different areas of our private and public life. His conclusion, however, is not an attack against therapy per se, but rather, the culture of therapy which elevates particular emotions, the notion of 'self-esteem' and a highly individuated sense of fulfilment. The strength of the book is not to just describe this trend but to highlight its most corrosive aspects, particularly how the culture of therapy nurtures a culture of dependence, where people are increasingly encouraged to seek professional advice from 'experts'. Ironically, the professionalisation of emotion management does not make us more at ease with our feelings but rather more suspicious and undermines the existing intimate relations we do have. Highly recommended to anyone interested in contemporary social trends and culture.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By L. R. Fisher on 9 Jun. 2008
Format: Paperback
But keep hitting, Frank. "Therapy is a business", and an expanding business needs more and more consumers. So why not recast all of life's problems as disorders or syndromes or phobias and send everybody off for counselling? Remember that island where the inhabitants lived by taking in each other's washing? He assumes, though, that counsellors give counsel. They don't, they just listen (which could be what's needed). Advice is in short supply. Furedi is good on the way social problems have been redefined as individual problems - could this be to stop anybody banding together to try and cure their social problems? Social problems are redefined - or rather, maddeningly undefined - as Social Exclusion (this used to be called "deprivation"). Arts organisations are forced to tick boxes about inclusiveness in order to get their funding and this loathsome social worker speak spreads throughout the land. This book is full of typos and repetition, and would benefit from being broken up with headings and bullet points. And why not a few cartoons?
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25 of 41 people found the following review helpful By R. J. Tattersall on 25 May 2004
Format: Paperback
Furedi certainly seems to have it in, for our 'touchy-feely' therapeutic culture, and makes a number of telling criticisms. In his enthusiasm to question the therapeutic approach he somewhat overstates his case - the backlash against 'compensation culture' indicates that this is by no means undisputed territory. The weakness of the therapeutic project as a replacement for other frameworks of meaning in our lives is well made out, although Furedi does not seem to suggest much as an alternative, apart from a belief in the power of humans to shape their destinies, rather than to be passive and powerless recipients of fate. The book gave the impression of having been put together in haste, with a quite a lot of repetition, and many annoying minor errors suggesting that the proof reading suffered the same fate.
Furedi's arguments would have made for an interesting journal article, but whether they merit a 200 page book is debatable. Overall, a bit of a disappointment.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4 reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Fascinating ideas but poorly edited 13 Feb. 2005
By Idea Lover - Published on
Format: Paperback
Furedi's interesting book explores how self-reliance and problem-solving through informal relationships have been gradually replaced by a therapeutic culture that, by medicalising everyday behaviour, encourages helplessness and promotes new forms of social control.

This book was well worth the read because the ideas were so fascinating, but one could be put off by the atrocious copy editing. Compared with Furedi's earlier well-edited "Paranoid Parenting," "Therapy Culture" had numerous distracting grammatical and spelling errors. It would have deserved a higher rating had it been better edited.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Good subject, poor execution 2 Dec. 2005
By Alex - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was excited when I found out about this book, because I agree with the author's overall thesis. I really wanted to like the book, but I came away sadly disappointed.

Furedi has some interesting ideas, but his writing is needlessly dense and dreary. Granted, this is an academic work, but still -- a good editor could probably bring this book to life. As it stands, however, the overall subject matter is interesting, but the book is almost unreadable.

For a much better treatment of essentially the same topic, see "One Nation Under Therapy", by Christina Hoff Sommers and Sally Satel.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
editing? 14 Oct. 2006
By proofreader - Published on
Format: Paperback
I'm reading this book right now, and I'm amazed it went to print with so many grammatical errors, particularly agreement problems. (For instance, the author repeatedly begins sentences with plural subjects and then uses singular verb forms.) There are also many typos. It's really unbelievable. There must be at least one error on every page. The book brings up some interesting ideas and criticisms of the growth of pop psychology and Western culture's reliance on therapy, but good lord, the errors are incredibly distracting! I just had to comment on it because I can't believe how bad the editing is.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
An Important Book 8 Sept. 2009
By Cyber Gypsy - Published on
Format: Paperback
Personally I wasn't bothered by the writing style, as the others were. What I am interested in is what an author has to say, and Furedi has an important message.
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