‘Therapy is indeed the new opium of the people, as Frank Furedi makes clear in this fascinating, readable – and disturbing – book.’ – Virginia Ironside, The. Furedi has written a textbook-style assessment of this new therapy culture. While he lacks the illuminating gifts of sociologists such as. The official website of Frank Furedi, author of Therapy Culture, Paranoid Parenting, Culture of Fear.

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Once there were wise elders to advise those in trouble – now we appoint life-style gurus, personal trainers and “a whole army of counsellors”. Culture of Fear attacks our obsession with safety how pathetic of us never to take risks ; Courting Mistrust criticises the growing recourse to litigation how pathetic to blame others for our accidents ; and Paranoid Parenting deals with the mollycoddling of children how pathetic not to let kids learn from their mistakes.

But when a child has been abused, a sense of victimhood seems appropriate enough. Targeting privacy and informal relations. Such a conservative orientation towards the future is clearly reflected within the role of therapy itself. The concept of the indirect victim allows for a tremendous inflation of the numbers who are entitled to claim such support.

Pull yourself together!

Take the experience of crime. Therapy, to him, is a sleeping potion used to control the masses, encouraging them to see vulture grievances as personal problems rather than as justified anger against the state.

But it might equally be said to encourage independence. In the s, confessional auto-biographies and semi-fictional accounts expanded beyond the usual “I was an addict” stories and adopted themes that were far more private than before.

T he erosion of the boundary that separates the public from curedi private is one of the chief accomplishments of therapy culture. When women’s magazines counselled readers not to express their emotions but control them. It seems that everybody wants to talk or write about themselves.

Get off that couch

It has now been reinvented as a condition that also afflicts adults. Adults, like children, are continually invited to make sense of their troubles through the medium of therapeutics. Throughout most of the 20th century, therapy was advertised therapt both a cure and as an instrument for the construction of a happy society.


In recent decades virtually every sphere of life has become subject to a new emotional culture. When footballer Paul Gascoigne was exposed in a newspaper as a binge drinker and smoker, he faced the full thefapy of the media. He is nostalgic for therapyy stoicism of the Blitz or the Aberfan disaster, when the children who survived went straight back to school, to “take their minds off” it.

By the medicalisation of emotional upheaval, young people are trained to regard troublesome experiences as the source of illness for which help needs to be found. The Furedi alternative, with its quietist machismo “Pull yourself together, man”is far bleaker.

He complains about the public reaction thwrapy September 11, for instance, suggesting we needn’t have been so traumatised by the footage of the twin towers. So any claim for privacy represents a refusal to accept the new etiquette of emotional correctness.

Therapy Culture: Cultivating Vulnerability in an Uncertain Age – Frank Furedi – Google Books

Even anti-poverty campaigners have shifted fkredi focus. We are all used to seeing TV celebrities telling the world about their illnesses, addictions, sex lives and personal hurts. Account Options Sign in. What’s missing is any concession that therapy might be helpful and motivating; that it can enable those with a sense of victimhood to move beyond it; that when it works it makes people nicer and happier, or at any rate less nasty and miserable.

And when alcoholism was regarded as moral weakness, not a disease.

The author’s surname, incidentally, forms the anagram “I Freud” – and he says the old boy has been misrepresented by his modern-day successors. The era of the stiff upper lip, when the aim was to put others first. How did we get here? Such minimal claims stand in distinct contrast to the way that therapy was promoted in the past. Jayne Zito, whose husband was killed by a mentally-ill assailant, recalled that she had a “huge need to go on talking”. And he suggests that cultuure harmful consequences of sex abuse have been greatly exaggerated, on the grounds that children are “resilient”.

And that, Furedi claims, is what’s so sinister. It is a timely question: In the early s, MPD was a rare diagnosis – less than a dozen cases in the previous years; by the s, thousands of people were diagnosed as multiples. Furedi presents himself as a bold iconoclast, but he has many followers. All that it offers in return are the dubious blessings of affirmation and recognition. What the American critic Laura Miller has characterised as the “illness memoir” became one of the most distinct literary genres of the late s.


Furedi portrays a world gone therapy-mad. Although individual therapists sometimes make extravagant claims about the effectiveness of their product, therapeutic culture is distinctly modest about its efficacy. Individuals who have lost a loved one through tragic circumstances have found the invitation to share it through the media difficult to resist, in the belief that talking to the public about their pain is an effective form of therapy.

Psychology Press- Social Science – pages. The act of “sharing” – turning private troubles into public stories – is now deeply embedded in popular culture. As American cultural critic Christopher Lasch notes, “The dominant conception of thearpy sees the self as a helpless victim of external circumstances.

Following his autobiography, Addicted, which provides vivid details of his drunken debauchery, some wags suggested that he is now more respected for his addiction than he ever was for his football: The diagnoses of post traumatic stress disorder PTSDdepression, addiction, chronic fatigue syndrome, attention deficit tberapy disorder ADHDand multiple personality disorder MPDare being applied to an tnerapy wide section of the population.

Take the growing phenomenon of stressed-out children.

A key theme promoted through confessional television is that in order to heal, emotionally injured individuals need to let go of “private wounds by sharing them with others”. Colin Parry, whose young son Timothy was killed by an IRA bomb blast in Warrington, became thearpy public figure often consulted about the political situation in Northern Ireland.