• Summary
  • Contents
  • Subject index

This stimulating book explores the long-standing relationship between psychotherapy and politics and argues that from the beginning psychotherapy has had a political face. Documenting instances where ideas from psychotherapy have been incorporated into the political agenda, the book demonstrates the practical value of psychotherapy as an instigator of social and political change. Related to this, attempts to understand and evaluate political life through the application of psychotherapeutic concepts are examined. The author poses a number of key questions, including: What is human nature? Are aggression and violence innate in us? Is the therapeutic relationship inherently unequal? And, is the political an a

Psychohistory and the Family
Psychohistory and the family

Erik Erikson reminds us that

students of history continue to ignore the simple facts that all individuals are borne by mothers; that everybody was once a child; that people and peoples begin in their nurseries; and that society consists of individuals in the process of developing from children into parents. (Erikson 1980, 17)

Several theorists have attempted different versions of ‘psychohistory’ – accounts of social, political and economic events giving a leading role to psychodynamic and psychological factors. Generally, these have centred on exactly the factor which Erikson picks out: the role of the family. As we shall see, however, very similar analyses can be given precisely opposite political ‘spins’.

Rich's Mass Psychology

We have already described Wilhelm Reich's view that ‘every ...

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