Would Furedi blog to further an “alternative web of meaning”?

by Yule Heibel on November 1, 2003

Fascinating review, Hooked on self-esteem, by Jennie Bristow in Spiked online, a London-based site I just found via Arts & Letters Daily. The review is of a book by Frank Furedi, Therapy Culture: Cultivating Vulnerability in an Uncertain Age. More than just kicking therapy culture’s butt, Furedi (judging from this review) goes after the social contexts and analyses the authoritarianism that infuses medicalisation and professionalisation. From the review:

The extent to which therapy culture destroys informal relationships between people is a key concern of Furedi’s book. By encouraging the focus on the individual, through propagating concepts such as self-esteem and emphasising the potential for abuse within relationships, the therapeutic dynamic encourages people to see others as a problem. …therapy culture weakens people’s relationships of dependence upon each other, and encourages increasing dependence upon professionals.
Furedi’s diagnosis of British and American society on the couch is stark, and sobering. He makes no attempt to sweeten the pill by positing an upside to emotional politics or strategies designed to boost self-esteem – to Furedi, therapy culture is unremittingly bad for individuals and society. (…)
On a society-wide level, says Furedi, the way to counter therapy culture is to attempt to develop an alternative web of meaning, that gives us the ability to make sense of our lives based on an appreciation of people’s strengths and potential, rather than an assumption about their weaknesses and vulnerability.

Another article on Furedi worth checking out: Paranoid Parenting in the Guardian.

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