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Saving the Modern Soul

Therapy, Emotions, and the Culture of Self-Help

Eva Illouz (Author)


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The language of psychology is all-pervasive in American culture—from The Sopranos to Oprah, from the abundance of self-help books to the private consulting room, and from the support group to the magazine advice column. Saving the Modern Soul examines the profound impact of therapeutic discourse on our lives and on our contemporary notions of identity. Eva Illouz plumbs today's particular cultural moment to understand how and why psychology has secured its place at the core of modern identity. She examines a wide range of sources to show how self-help culture has transformed contemporary emotional life and how therapy complicates individuals' lives even as it claims to dissect their emotional experiences and heal trauma.
1. Introduction
Cultural Sociology and the Therapeutic
Therapy as a New Emotional Style
Texts and Contexts
Cultural Critique and Psychology

2. Freud: ACultural Innovator
Psychoanalysis as a Charismatic Enterprise
The Social Organization of Freudian Charisma
Freud in America
The Freudian Cultural Matrix
The Romance of Psychology and Popular Culture

3. From Homo economicus to Homo communicans
Emotional Control in the Sociology of Organizations
The Power of Control and the Control of Power
Psychologists Enter the Market
ANew Emotional Style
Emotional Control
The Communicative Ethic as the Spirit of the Corporation
Emotional, Moral, and Professional Competence

4. The Tyranny of Intimacy
Intimacy: An Increasingly Cold Haven
Beyond Their Will? Psychologists and Marriage
What Feminism and Psychology Have in Common
Intimacy: ANew Emotional Imagination
Communicative Rationality in the Bedroom
Toward the Ideology of Pure Emotion
The Cooling of Passion

5. Triumphant Suffering
Why Therapy Triumphed
The Therapeutic Narrative of Selfhood
Performing the Self through Therapy
ANarrative in Action

6. ANew Emotional Stratification?
The Rise of Emotional Competence
Emotional Intelligence and Its Antecedents
The Global Therapeutic Habitus and the New Man
Intimacy as a Social Good

7. Conclusion: Institutional Pragmatism in the Study of Culture

Eva Illouz is a professor of sociology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a member of the Center for the Study of Rationality. She is also the Academic Director of the Program in Cultural Studies. She is the author of Consuming the Romantic Utopia: Love and the Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism (UC Press; honorable mention, Outstanding Contribution Award, American Sociological Association, 2000); The Culture of Capitalism (in hebrew); Oprah Winfrey and the Glamour of Misery: An Essay on Popular Culture (Best Book Award, American Sociological Association, 2005); and Cold Intimacies: The Making of Emotional Capitalism.
“Eva Illouz is a great scholar, and her book has been hailed by many as an important contribution to the field of therapeutic discourse.”—Feminist Review
“[An] important reference point for understanding the nexus between self and culture. . . . Deserving of a wide readership.”—Theory & Psychology
"A tour de force of critical insights and broad scholarship that provides a rich banquet of ideas for those interested in a broader understanding of the modern soul. It is one of those rare books that forces the reader, whether he agrees or disagrees, to think in new and creative ways."—Charles W. Smith, author of Success and Survival on Wall Street

"Eva Illouz has made another seminal contribution to cultural sociology. Forty years ago, Philip Rieff announced the advent of a new 'therapeutic culture' wherein self-realization, once achieved as a byproduct of commitment to a communal purpose, is pursued as an end in itself. How the therapeutic culture affects selfhood, on the other hand, has remained a mystery. To clarify the matter, Illouz shows how therapeutic values insinuate themselves into the corporate world, the state, mass media, civil society, the family, and the bedroom. Eva Illouz has given to our generation the fullest and clearest account of therapeutic individualism ever written."—Barry Schwartz, author of Abraham Lincoln in the Post-Heroic Era

"Located within a cultural history of introspection, Eva Illouz has given us a highly original treatise-a cultural critique-of therapeutic discourse as one of the principal historical formations, languages, and codes that both articulate and shape what modern selfhood is today. An important work in cultural sociology and the sociology of emotions, Illouz will change many of our ideas about the emotions and late capitalism."—E. Doyle McCarthy, author of Knowledge as Culture: The New Sociology of Knowledge

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