Synopses & Reviews
“Psychology has stepped down from the university chair into the marketplace” was how the New York Times
put it in 1926. Another commentator in 1929 was more biting. Psychoanalysis, he said, had over a generation, “converted the human scene into a neurotic.” Freud first used the word around 1895, and by the 1920s psychoanalysis was a phenomenon to be reckoned with in the United States. How it gained such purchase, taking hold in virtually every aspect of American culture, is the story Lawrence R. Samuel tells in Shrink
, the first comprehensive popular history of psychoanalysis in America.
Arriving on the scene at around the same time as the modern idea of the self, psychoanalysis has both shaped and reflected the ascent of individualism in American society. Samuel traces its path from the theories of Freud and Jung to the innermost reaches of our current me-based, narcissistic culture. Along the way he shows how the arbiters of culture, high and low, from public intellectuals, novelists, and filmmakers to Good Housekeeping and the Cosmo girl, mediated or embraced psychoanalysis (or some version of it), until it could be legitimately viewed as an integral feature of American consciousness.
"Since 50% of Americans will reportedly undergo some form of psychotherapy in their lifetimes, Engel, a professor of health care policy and management at Seton Hall University, presents a complete survey of the 100-year-old history of American mental health practitioners. Tracing the rise and decline of psychoanalysis in America (including the pioneering theories of homegrown talents Harry Stack Sullivan and Karen Horney), and its replacement by other, more targeted forms of therapy, this book notes that mental health treatment has become intensely consumer-oriented, tailored to finicky patients and leading to a variety of therapies such as Gestalt, rebirthing, primal scream therapy and medications like Prozac and Zoloft (though the discussion of medications fails to do justice to their complexities). Engel (The Epidemic: A Global History of AIDS) touts community mental health facilities and new progress in treatments and drugs to control addictions and mental instability. Highly informative, if a bit textbookish in tone, this is a capable introduction to the ever-changing American mental health industry and its practitioners. 8 pages of b&w photos." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Praise for The Epidemic: A Global History of AIDS
"Perceptive and concise but also conversational and exceptionally thorough."
Publishers Weekly (starred review )
Studded with fascinating tidbits [
] The story Engel does tell is plenty interesting and his conflicting view of Freudianism well worth absorbing.
The New York Times Book Review
Praise for The Epidemic: A Global History of AIDS Perceptive and concise but also conversational and exceptionally thorough.
Publishers Weekly (starred review )
"Studded with fascinating tidbits [...] The story Engel does tell is plenty interesting and his conflicting view of Freudianism well worth absorbing." - The New York Times Book Review
"A thorough yet concise history of the talking cure. [...] A capable explanation of a complicated field." -Kirkus Reviews
"An authoritative, readable book, this is highly recommended for large general libraries and collections in health and social science." -Library Journal
“A fascinating, funny, and fast-paced exploration of how psychoanalysis has become subtly but deeply ingrained in everything from American art and advertising to our aspirations and identities.”—Stephen J. Kraus, author of Psychological Foundations of Success: A Harvard-Trained Scientist Separates the Science of Success from Self-Help Snake Oil
“An exceptionally well-researched, accessible book that will undoubtedly appeal to both professionals in the psychoanalytic field and the interested lay reader.”—Therese Ragen, author of The Consulting Room and Beyond: Psychoanalytic Work and Its Reverberations in the Analysts Life
"[Samuel] takes psychoanalysis off the couch in this fascinating history of the growth of Freud's brainchild. . . . This compelling study will appeal both to proponents and detractors."—Publishers Weekly
"The distinctiveness of Shrink lies in its focus on popular culture. . . . An American book on America and psychoanalysis would not be complete without the extras: the retelling of horror and wonder stories that made news in the 1950s-1970s; the review of the popular terms that emerged to capture the psychoanalytic moment—from getting "psyched" in the 1920s to "hitting the couch" in mid-century; the discussion of films dealing with psychoanalysis; the treatment of the topic in womens magazines, etc. etc."—Liana Giorgi, New York Journal of Books
"A fascinating history."—James A. Cox , Library Bookwatch
"Lawrence R. Samuel successfully explores the role psychoanalysis has had on shaping the country's consciousness overtime. Samuel delivers a powerful narrative of the discipline's ups and downs, packed with lively quotes, anecdotes, and fascinating historical tidbits."—Foreword Reviews
From Freud to Zoloft, the first comprehensive history of American Psychotherapy
Fifty percent of Americans will undergo some form of psychotherapy in their lifetimes, but the origins of the field are rarely known to patients. Yet the story of psychotherapy in America brims with colorful characters, intriguing experimental treatments, and intense debates within this community of healers.
American Therapy begins, as psychotherapy itself does, with the monumental figure of Sigmund Freud. The book outlines the basics of Freudian theory and discusses the peculiarly powerful influence of Freud on the world of American mental health. The book moves through the emergence of group therapy, the rise of psychosurgery, the evolution of uniquely American therapies such as Gestalt, rebirthing, and primal scream therapy, and concludes with the modern world of psychopharmacology, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and highly targeted short-term therapies.
For a counseled nation that freely uses terms such as emotional baggage and no longer stigmatizes mental health care, American Therapy is a remarkable history of an extraordinary enterprise.
From Freud to Zoloft, this comprehensive history of American psychotherapy begins with the monumental figure of Sigmund Freud and moves through the emergence of group therapy, psychopharmacology, and cognitive-behavioral therapy.
About the Author
Jonathan Engel holds a Ph.D. in the history of science and medicine from Yale, and has written extensively about the historical development of U.S. medicine and health policy. His previous books are Doctors and Reformers: Discussion and Debate Over Health Policy 1925-1950, Poor People’s Medicine: Medicaid and American Charity Care Since 1965, and The Epidemic: A Global History of AIDS. A professor of health care policy and management at Seton Hall University, he lives in New Jersey.