The Triumph of the Therapeutic: Uses of Faith after Freud

The Triumph of the Therapeutic: Uses of Faith after Freud

The Triumph of the Therapeutic: Uses of Faith after Freud [Epub] ➟ The Triumph of the Therapeutic: Uses of Faith after Freud By Philip Rieff – Since its publication in 1966 The Triumph of the Therapeutic has been hailed as a work of genuine brilliance one of those books whose insights uncannily anticipate cultural developments and whose rich Since its publication in of the PDF ☆ The Triumph of the Therapeutic has been hailed as a work of genuine brilliance one of those books whose insights uncannily anticipate cultural developments and whose richness of argumentation reorients entire fields of inuiry This special fortieth anniversary edition of Philip Rieff’s masterpiece the first volume in ISI books’ new Background series The Triumph PDF \ includes an introduction by Elisabeth Lasch uinn and essays on the text by historians Eugene McCarraher and Wilfred McClay and philosopher Stephen Gardner.

10 thoughts on “The Triumph of the Therapeutic: Uses of Faith after Freud

  1. Shane Avery Shane Avery says:

    While writing a rather lengthy review I accidentally closed the web browser losing my work Acutely painful I assure you I don't have the time or energy to do it over again But I will say thisThe ideal notion of community ought to rest on rational consent not upon a manipulative set of inner ordinances and interdictory symbols that guilt members into remaining emotionally invested and attached Naturally Rieff anticipates this criticism and wonders whether a traditional form of community can exist within a thoroughly morally permissive ie non manipulative milieux Traditional forms of community have never been rationally optional they have through inner ordinances transmitted to the individual from his earliest infancy a sense of right and wrong By transgressing communal ordinances the individual faced the prospect of profound shame and guilt Only through obeying moral codes could the individual share in the fundamental pleasures of agreement and mutual contact Communal purpose thus saved him from the infinite variety of panic and emptiness that he would otherwise faceIt's hard not to lament Freud's mechanistic rejection of altruism sacrifice and the very idea of love But how can one lament the decline of asceticism and institutionalized social control? External coercion is a high price for simply belonging Freud's goal of strengthening the ego remains important in a therapeutic sense if humans wish not only to free themselves from overt social control but also from the subliminal forms of control that exist in the 21st century I'm referring here to advertising and other insidious props of capitalism and entertainment The irrational is all around us We need an analytic attitude to combat it I reject the idea that a scientific attitude excludes spirituality Somehow the dialectic of Science and Spirit will resolve itself

  2. Avery Avery says:

    Rieff is certainly no conservative in this book as he will become in Sacred OrderSocial Order but he is certainly one of the finest intellects of the 20th century Here he's a lot closer to Nietzsche stopping to examine the deeper layers of flailing that comes from trying to derive a teleology from psychotherapy and demanding a better way to situate the therapeutic in the post Christian world We shouldn't be surprised that nobody had the courage to respond to his challenge A moderately difficult read and not a book that could be written today

  3. Father Nick Father Nick says:

    The fact is I am simply not euipped to understand this book I gave it a heroic effort though and did learn some things about Freud Jung and Lawrence in the process This book came up in a Christian Anthropology class this past year and I finally got around to following up on it and found the excerpts used in class to describe uite precisely some of the dysfunctional aspects of our present culture If I understand the author correctly and it's entirely possible that I don't it seems as if he is uite aware of these destructive individualistic and ultimately unfulfilling impulses driving our contemporary culture but sees a solution not in a return to the antiuated ascetic collective therapies of the past prayer fasting sacramental participation etc but an entirely new collective therapy that eschews individualism and its psychologically destructive structures but the old delusions as well I certainly wasn't expecting this coming from ISI but my best reading has confused me uite a bit and given me the impression that Rieff is no ally of traditional religion However this is just an impression and I find myself doubting this judgment for no other reason than I am not conversant with the Freudian and post Freudian terminology he uses somewhat glibly and opauely at times In short it feels like starting to listen in on an intense conversation about uite particular events three uarters of the way through

  4. Gregg Wingo Gregg Wingo says:

    The Triumph of the Therapeutic is a highly influential work on writers such as Alasdair MacIntyre This is acknowledged by both writers and spoken to by Rieff in the 1987 preface of the reprint of his book The Therapist of Rieff was combined with “Nietzsche’s artist and Weber’s bureaucrat” in After Virtue and Rieff completes the actors of the contemporary world with the addition of the “Baconian Scientist” The Therapist is a corruption of Freud’s psychoanalytical process to the purpose of messianic movements in our society Rieff feels Freud’s practice of psychology was focused on preparing the patient to be able to deal with the Hobbesian world through the individual’s balance within through self analysis and that the use of psychoanalysis for cultural purposes amounted to the creation of a religion which to Freud would be an act of injuring the patient In essence Freud’s practice of psychology provides the individual the psychic basis for the role of Superman Manager or Scientist in the world which the Modernist condition reuires of them and presents the possibility of a “post religious culture” The first break with Freud is by Jung who formulizes archetypes as “universal and historic forms of fantasy sometimes memorialized as religions” and thereby providing his patients and the community with a uasi religious solution to Modernist condition And what is critical is that Jung has discovered a methodology for communication through the symbolic not as an art but as science – a science that will combine the arts from literature to architecture into a tool of politics in a rational way for the use by mass movements intent on societal disruption and change Rieff specifically references the Puritans of England as “the carriers of new moral demands” who after utilizing their symbolic forms to achieve power will “use the symbol system as a control devicefor preservation and expansion of the systemfirst established” by them and for their new order The communicational methods of the Puritans the Soviets and the neo classical economists of today are clearly apparentRieff also speaks of another student of Freud’s Wilhelm Reich who eventually followed his theories into the realm practiced by the Superman as a self described Freudo Marxist Reich felt that a successful revolution had a reuirement to be “psychologically deep as well as politically broad” in order to avoid “counter revolution” from the “masses” and this would be accomplished through a non institutionally based religion of the therapeutic This allows the Therapist to combine the role of the Scientist with the language of religion for purposes of cultural change and control D H Lawrence is also treated by Rieff as a theoretical descendent of Freud Lawrence rejects the sexual focus of Freud for love and sees love as the counterweight to psychoanalysis rationality What is interesting about this theory is that in 1984 Orwell utilizes the power of love as the shield that protects his character Julia from the logic driven control of the State We must keep in mind that the emotive is a powerful force in mankind for contesting the rational This is also the basis for Jung’s opinion of National Socialism in Germany Rieff explains that from the Jungian perspective it represented “a therapeutic realignment of an unbalanced German collective unconscious” and a rejection of 19th century German rationalism This is due to psychoanalytic theory and Marxism sharing a belief in human power as a method for achieving an improved world condition for mankindA fascinating read for anyone interested in the psychological roots of today's major social movements

  5. Brett Vanderzee Brett Vanderzee says:

    This was a challenging but fascinating work of cultural criticism deeply pertinent some 50 years after coming into print Philip Rieff traces the emergence of “Psychological man” the successor of Political Religious and Economic man—pardon the gender exclusivity as the current archetype of Western civilization Rieff critiues three disciples of Freud Jung Reich and Lawrence for going beyond their teacher’s merely “analytic” attitude to promote a “therapeutic” culture or even “religion” founded on remissions rather than controls Rieff’s style feels at once elliptical and yet punctuated by aphorisms throughout “Crowded and together we are learning to live distantly from one another;” “Theoretical categories too passionately held generate their own facts” As someone largely un versed in sociology and psychology it took time to adapt to Rieff’s lexicon but the final chapter tied the work together in a powerful way For those interested in a critical reading of modern and particularly “therapeutic” culture I recommend this work as well as the two critical essays that follow in its 40th anniversary edition

  6. Alex Stroshine Alex Stroshine says:

    The Triumph of the Therapeutic is a famous and perceptive work that has been on my to read list for a long time Many religious thinkers such as Rod Dreher in his book The Benedict Option have gleaned many useful insights from Philip Rieff I do believe we live in a very therapeutic age I found it a rather challenging read particularly since I have little exposure to or understanding of many of the thinkers Rieff analyzes Sigmund Freud Carl Jung William Reich DH Lawrence I read an edition released in 1968; the newer ISI edition features extra essays by additional scholars and an introduction by Elisabeth Lasch uinn which may be helpful I found the first couple of chapters and the final chapter the most interesting but this is certainly a book I should read again after learning about psychology

  7. Kyle Kyle says:

    Anybody who married Susan Sontag obviously needs therapy yuk yuk yuk Actually this book is an anti therapy screed

  8. William William says:

    I received this book as a random secret Santa gift from someone who picked it as one of their favorite books I love getting recommendations from folks in that way especially for a book that I had not heard of and would never have otherwise read I found the book overall pretty tough sledding as it is densely written and filled with specialist vocabulary The introduction acknowledges that but then suggests Rieff's terms and formulations can be read the first time through for the general sense of the interpretation and lingered over later at length once the end is grasped I think that is generally correct but will warn that in this review I'm still at the general sense end of understanding The main thrust of Triumph of the Therapeutic is about the sociological implications of Freud's theories ie the titular therapeutic It is divided into roughly three parts of uneual size an initial set of chapters focusing on background and Freud 90 pages three chapters each covering one of Freud's followers 110 pages and a brief concluding chapter 20 pages The first section which I found completely fascinating begins with the central uestion of the book the so called “religious uestion” “How are we to be consoled for the misery of living?” Rieff says that historically this uestion has been answered by a society’s “culture” and in particular the specific set of demands a culture makes of those that participate in it Complying with those demands or as Rieff calls them “commitments” or “interdictions” may be hardpainful for certain individuals but the culture in turns holds out a promise of “salvation” to those who conform themselves Although Rieff discusses Christian culture as one example of a culture that answers the “religious uestion” with a promise of “salvation” he does not mean salvation in a theological sense For example Marxism has its own culture that holds out a promise of “salvation” through progress toward a non theistic worker’s paradiseRieff discusses that most cultures go through stages of development moving from “commitments” to “remissions” ie stages where cultural control over various impulses relax At some point the remissions fall out of balance with the commitments and a cultural revolution occurs culminating in a new culture with its own particular set of commitments In many cases a culture is tied to a specific society and the culture rises and falls along with that society But Rieff points out that one distinctive feature of Christianity is that it self consciously divorced itself from any particular society and so has endured beyond its original JewishRoman context Incidentally I was somewhat surprised to learn that Rieff is Jewish—the book discusses Christianity extensively but has almost no talk of JudaismIn any event this model of salvation through culture is what Rieff calls a “therapy of commitment” Throughout history an individual’s well being and stability was established through full participation in the culture Mental illness and other psychological problems self doubt anxiety etc are addressed through the process of the culture supporting its members in being good citizensRieff observes that toward the end of the 19th century our culture became remissive consistent with the standard pendulum swinging toward another cultural revolution But unlike past cultural revolutions the ascendant new culture does not contain its own new set of commitments as would be expected Rather the ascending culture is intensely individualistic and reuires only minimal commitments of its members—and as a result it provides no mechanism of salvation Rieff characterizes this as the “impoverishment of western culture” He writes that “Western culture is changing already into a symbol system unprecedented in its plasticity and absorptive capacity Nothing much can opposite it really and it welcomes all criticism for in a sense it stands for nothing”Into this vacuum steps Freud and his psychoanalytic approach To oversimplify Freud believes that all psychological problems stem from conflict within an individual between the id ego and super ego Previously that tension would be resolved by the cultural influence on the super ego ie the “therapy of commitment” crushing the id but with the ascendent culture no longer providing a “therapy of commitment” some other mechanism is neededThus rather than relying on a uniform “cultural therapy” from society Freud proposes individually analyzing and treating each patient to resolve the idegosuper ego tension And because Freud has no interest in suggesting alternative cultures with different “therapies of commitment”—indeed he does not think the “religious uestion” is worth asking—he is agnostic about the “right” way to approach each patient Instead he believes that through psychoanalytic testing an individualized “cure” can be scientifically devised to relieve the psychological tension within a patient the so called “analytical” or “therapeutic” approachThe second part of the book discusses the approach of three of Freud’s followers all of whom started from Freud’s basic analytical approach but tried to go farther and provide an answer to the “religious uestion” Freud refused to ask The most gripping of these to me was Wilhelm Reich who started as a political psychoanalytic Marxist and ended his life hawking pseudoscientific “orgone energy” machines The chapter on Carl Jung was also interesting but I confess that I could not really follow the discussion of DH Lawrence Overall it was enjoyable to read about three very different approaches but this section did not have the kind of enduring relevance of the first part of the bookThe short third part is a brief conclusion returning to the themes of the first part It was shocking to read the accuracy of cultural insights in a book written than 50 years ago For example long before people were complaining about social media reinforced political bubbles Rieff writes“In its reasonableness the triumph of the therapeutic cannot be viewed simply as a break with the established order of moral demand but rather as a profound effort to end the tyranny of primary group moral passion operating first through the family as the inner dynamic of social order Crowded and together we are learning to live distantly from one another in strategically varied and numerous contacts rather than in the oppressive warmth of family and a few friends”There’s a lot to get through in Triumph of the Therapeutic and I’m certain that I only scratched the surface on my first read and probably misunderstood other things But I'm glad I read it and I would definitely commend it to othersI should also note that my version contains two academic commentaries at the end discussing the book but I have not yet read those

  9. Eric Eric says:

    I first read this book a few years ago and only partially understood it Last fall I read My Life among the Deathworks Illustrations of the Aesthetics of Authority written 40 years after The Triumph of the Therapeutic Uses of Faith after Freud and The Crisis of Modernity by Augusto Del Noce both of which dealt with post Christian aspects of the West and particularly its dissolution of coherent vertical structures of authority Rieff was much less sanguine after watching the practical outworkings of society after embracing many of the aspects of the Freudian world view Rieff spends some time in discussing post Freudian thinkers Jung Carl Gustav Wilhelm Reich and DH Lawrence While each of these men diverged from Freud their points of departure illuminate what Freud was really saying about emancipated Man from the prior negative constraints of culture I recommend highly the last 20 pages or so of the book as a good summary of Rieff's observations These pages are useful for any Christian first of all for introspection and then as a checklist of aspects of the West which are now thoroughly secularized and perhaps now antithetical to traditional Christian thought and practice

  10. Steve Penner Steve Penner says:

    This book is not to be entered into lightly It is thick with sociological language and there is much that needs to be unpacked This 40th anniversary issue is very helpful with two essays at the end which explain Rieff's theory of culture and give biographical insight into his academic career and personal life since the book's publicationRieff's theory comes out of the reality that Western man had been deconverted from belief in God Christianity and any other symbol system that might make culture coherent Freud had been one of the first to see the implications of this and adopted an analytical approach to help people deal with the misery of life without purpose or meaning He produced the psychological man who would succeed religious and economic man who had both failed to bring meaning to culture His disciples Jung Reich and Lawrence could not tolerate the hopelessness of such a condition and sought to create a symbol system where people could flourish as a culture without the aid of any natural law or supernatural reality Reiff did not believe this was helpful or even possible and postulated that western culture would grow increasingly individualistic and fragmented with nothing acting as glue to hold culture together Authority of all kinds would be rejected and each person would be his or her own god as it were If this is sounding familiar we are pretty close to there

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