Therapeutic Worlds: Popular Psychology and the Sociocultural Organisation of Intimate Life

1st Edition

Daniel Nehring, Dylan Kerrigan

Published February 6, 2019
Reference - 186 Pages - 3 B/W Illustrations
ISBN 9781472425980 - CAT# Y253308
Series: Therapeutic Cultures

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This book builds a fresh perspective on therapeutic narratives of intimate life. Focusing on the question of how popular psychology organises everyday experiences of intimacy, its argument is grounded in qualitative research in Trinidad in the Anglophone Caribbean.

Against the backdrop of Trinidad’s colonial and postcolonial history, the authors map the development of therapeutic institutions and popular therapeutic practices and explore how transnationally mobile, commercial forms of popular psychology, mostly originating in the Global North, have taken root in Trinidadian society through online social networks, self-help books, and other media. In this sense, the book adds to social research on the transnational spread of a digital attention economy and its participation in the proliferation of popular psychological discourse.

Drawing on in-depth interviews with self-help readers, the book considers how popular psychology organises their everyday experiences of intimate life. It argues that the proliferation of self-help media contributes to the psychologisation of intimate relationships and obscures the social dimensions of intimacy in terms of gender, race, ethnicity, and other social structures and inequalities. At the same time, the book draws on anthropological arguments about the colonisation of consciousness in the Global South to interpret the insertion of transnationally mobile popular psychology into Trinidadian society.

An innovative contribution to scholarship on therapeutic cultures, which explores the widely under-researched dissemination of popular psychology in the Global South, the book adds to a sociological understanding of the ways in which therapeutic narratives of self and intimate relationships come to be incorporated into everyday experience. As such, it will appeal to scholars of cultural studies, anthropology, and the sociology of gender, sexuality, families, and personal life.

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