‘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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In this brave new world, the problem is no longer poverty per se, but its invidious consequence: Frank Furedi, professor of sociology at the University of Kent, has become something of a cult figure. Furedi describes some of the reasons for this cultural shift. Policy-makers, media commentators and experts regularly demand that action should be taken to raise the self-esteem of schoolchildren, teenagers, parents, the elderly, the homeless, the mentally ill, delinquents, the unemployed, those suffering racism, lone parents, to name but a few.

Individuals are not so much cured as placed in a state of recovery.

therapy culture | Frank Furedi

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. And he suggests that the harmful consequences of sex abuse have been greatly exaggerated, on the grounds that children are “resilient”. All this emphasis on the private self has, paradoxically, eroded private life – and emptied the public therxpy of purpose and culturre.

Until recently, the diagnosis of ADHD was confined to children. His objection to the cult of the “vulnerable self”, like Margaret Thatcher’s to the welfare state, is that it encourages dependency.


A key theme promoted through confessional television is that in order to heal, emotionally injured hherapy need to let go of “private wounds by sharing them with others”.

Therapeutic claimsmaking and the demand for a diagnosis. Take the experience of crime. And a world that had less need of therapists would be a better one.

Pull yourself together!

He describes domestic violence, child abuse, date rape, road rage, stalking and bullying as “recently constructed crimes”, as if that somehow makes them less real. 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.

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.

An attractive feature of this folk myth is the claim that raising self-esteem works as a magic bullet, able to solve almost any problem facing the individual and society.

Therapy today, like the wider culture of which it is a part, teaches people to know their place. Furedi questions the widely accepted thesis that the therapeutic turn represents an enlightened shift towards emotions.

In reality, though, the rhetoric of therapeutic self-determination never granted individuals the right to determine their therzpy It’s anti-science and anti-reason. He is nostalgic for the stoicism of the Blitz or the Aberfan disaster, when the children who survived went straight back to school, to “take their minds off” it. Mirroring this sense of “self-as-victim” is the contemporary obsession with self-esteem.


Get off that couch

Because the public exposure of inner pain can count on the affirmation and support of today’s culture, more and more people identify themselves through their addiction, syndrome or physical illness.

Account Options Sign in. Though terrier-like in pursuit of evidence to support his case, Furedi has no interest in clinical practice and has nothing to say about therapists themselves. Integrity in the Emotions David Pugmire No preview available – Therapy Culture makes some pithy sociological observations.

Jayne Zito, whose husband was killed cultuee a mentally-ill assailant, recalled that she had a “huge need to go on talking”. hherapy

He complains about the public reaction to September 11, for instance, suggesting we needn’t have been so traumatised by the footage of the twin towers. Cultivating Vulnerability in an Uncertain Age. Help-seeking also constitutes the precondition for the management of people’s emotions.

This elaboration of the impact of mental cultyre is matched by the growth in the number of routine experiences that are said culturre cause psychological damage. And once the diagnosis of illness is systematically offered as an interpretive guide for making sense of distress, people are far more likely to perceive themselves as ill.

As the old hierarchies have collapsed, so people have become more demanding – and in their drive towards self-improvement look to therapy for relief. Furedi portrays a culturs gone therapy-mad.