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The Triumph of the Therapeutic: Uses of Faith after Freud Hardcover – January 1, 1966


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 274 pages
  • Publisher: Harper & Row (1966)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000YNDJ5G
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.7 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,070,473 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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79 of 82 people found the following review helpful By Pieter Uys HALL OF FAME on August 6, 2005
Format: Paperback
In this brilliant work Philip Rieff expands on his first book on Freud, The Mind Of The Moralist. He looks at the moral aspects of the writings of Freud, Carl Jung, Wilhelm Reich and DH Lawrence, in which he sees the birth of Psychological Man and the victory of relativism. He observes that psychoanalysis was instrumental in breaking down standards of morality and undermining religion. But in the 19th century, rationalism had already weakened Christianity in its heartland. The negative trends that replaced it contain no positive symbolism and above all, require no commitment.

Rieff does not deny the obvious literary genius of these authors and thinkers but rejects their respective faiths of the inner God, hedonism and impulse. Defining faith as "the compulsive dynamic of culture," Rieff does not think that any of the aforementioned substitutes has what it takes to serve as integrating factor for Western culture. They lack the binding force of commitment, enhance hedonist tendencies and undermine virtue. The feeling of the individual is exalted over the virtuous as a measure of value. This matter is brilliantly examined by Theodore Dalrymple in Our Culture, What's Left of It.

He argues that the negation of concepts like good and evil has become the foundation upon which personality is formed. The dangers are obvious.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By David Greusel on March 21, 2009
Format: Paperback
I'll be honest with you...Philip Reiff is not an easy read. But he's well worth it. This book takes on Freud and some of his (ironically) patricidal disciples, showing how Freud was instrumental in the dismantling of faith as the organizing principle of culture. In its place, we have "psychological man," whose only organizing principle is self-fulfillment. It's not hard to see where that leads: a culture adrift, pleasure-seeking individuals heedless of the needs of community, and so on. Reiff is such an incisive critic of our present situation that the only theory I have for his not being more widely read and cited is that he's just too darn hard to read. But don't let that stop you.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Patrick Stenberg on January 28, 2010
Format: Paperback
Philip Rieff made his early career as perhaps the most penetrating interpreter of Freud in the Twentieth Century. Although Freud's theories may be deemed to have been superseded by subsequent developments in psychoanalysis, his impact on Western culture has been profound and lasting. In what is perhaps the key work in his entire opus, Rieff argues that Freudian psychiatry marked the beginning of Western civilization's decisive turn away from the authoritative truths of faith to the relative 'truths' of therapy, and the birth of 'Psychological Man'. In later work, Rieff would come to place the onus for this seismic shift squarely on Freud himself, but 'The Triumph of the Therapeutic' remains ambiguous on this question, concentrating on the apostasies of Freud's students and intellectual heirs as agents of the Western crisis of authority. He traces the thought of three key heretical psychoanalytic thinkers of the Twentieth Century, Carl Jung, Wilhelm Reich, and D. H. Lawrence, but here I'll single out Reich for the influence he came to exert through the revolutions of the 1960s, which carried the crisis well beyond its initial ambit. Reich's distinct contribution was the fusion of Freudian psychoanalysis and Marxism on the basis of an analogy he drew between the repression of forbidden desires by the superego and the oppression of the proletariat by their bourgeois exploiters. Reich's voice thus combined with those of other leading theorists, such as Herbert Marcuse and R. D. Laing, whose thought served as a rallying point for the New Left, to shape the character of the West's ongoing revolt against authority.
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