• Summary
  • Contents
  • Subject index

What are the consequences in American society when social and political activism is replaced by pursuit of personal, psychological change? How does such a shift happen? Where is it visible? In wide-ranging case studies, Control and Consolation in American Culture and Politics points out this change in American culture and attributes it to the “rhetoric of therapy.” This rhetoric is defined as a pervasive cultural discourse that applies psychotherapyæs lexiconùthe constructive language of healing, coping, adaptation, and restoration of a previously existing orderùto social and political conflict. The purpose of this therapeutic discourse is to encourage people to focus on themselves and their private lives rather than to attempt to reform flawed systems of social and political power. Author Dana L. Cloud focuses on the therapeutic discourse that emerged after the Vietnam War and links its rise to specific political and economic interests. The critical case studies describe in detail not only what the therapeutic style looks like, but how and why therapeutic discourses are persuasive. These studies include: the rhetoric of “family values”; media coverage of “support groups” during the Persian Gulf War; Gloria Steinenæs Revolution from Within; the film Thelma and Louise; and literature of the New Age Movement. Cloud concludes with a chapter urging resistance to the therapeutic persuasion she describes envisioning in its place engaged public politics. At once unique and engaging, Control and Consolation in American Culture and Politics is a must read for academics and students interested in communication studies, cultural studies, sociology, political science, and media studies.

The Support Group Nation
The support group nation

We're a support group nation. We don't talk about whether something is right or wrong, we just talk about making it through it.

Kathleen Farrell (as quoted in May 1991, 3A)1

Since World War II, psychotherapeutic techniques have been an explicit tool of governments at war. On the premise that individual psychology held the key to wartime morale, the United States Committee for National Morale was formed in 1940, with prominent psychologists and sociologists among its members (Herman 1995, 49). Emergency committees and pollsters combined forces during World War II to manage public opinion and bolster support for the war effort on the home front. The Persian Gulf War (1990-1991) was no different on this score because psychotherapeutic motives dominated ...

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