Shrink by Lawrence R. Samuel
A Cultural History of Psychoanalysis in America

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The distinctiveness of Shrink lies in its focus on popular culture.
-NY Journal of Books


“Psychology has stepped down from the university chair into the marketplace” was how the New York Times put it in 1926. Another commentator in 1929 was more biting. Psychoanalysis, he said, had over a generation, “converted the human scene into a neurotic.” Freud first used the word around 1895, and by the 1920s psychoanalysis was a phenomenon to be reckoned with in the United States. How it gained such purchase, taking hold in virtually every aspect of American culture, is the story Lawrence R. Samuel tells in Shrink, the first comprehensive popular history of psychoanalysis in America.

Arriving on the scene at around the same time as the modern idea of the self, psychoanalysis has both shaped and reflected the ascent of individualism in American society. Samuel traces its path from the theories of Freud and Jung to the innermost reaches of our current me-based, narcissistic culture. Along the way he shows how the arbiters of culture, high and low, from public intellectuals, novelists, and filmmakers to Good Housekeeping and the Cosmo girl, mediated or embraced psychoanalysis (or some version of it), until it could be legitimately viewed as an integral feature of American consciousness.


About Lawrence R. Samuel

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Lawrence R. Samuel is the author of several books, including The American Dream: A Cultural History and Freud on Madison Avenue: Motivation Research and Subliminal Advertising in America.
Published April 1, 2013 by University of Nebraska Press. 288 pages
Genres: History, Professional & Technical, Health, Fitness & Dieting. Non-fiction
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NY Journal of Books

Above average
Reviewed by Liana Giorgi on Apr 01 2013

The distinctiveness of Shrink lies in its focus on popular culture.

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