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The Triumph of the Therapeutic: Uses of Faith after Freud (Background: Essential Texts for the Conservative Mind) Paperback – November 20, 2006
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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. The therapeutic society provides an easy, feel-good substitute to religion that severs the roots, leading to selective morality and shamelessness. I'm not so sure about his criticism of Jung's version of the immanence of God - an ancient concept present in most major religions - but it cannot be denied that the idea is widely exploited by practitioners of New Age drivel, fake spirituality and gross superstition.
The Triumph Of The Therapeutic is a brilliant study of faith, psychology and culture and the ties between them, whether one always agrees with the author or not. The writing style is elegant with many a bon mot and memorable turn of phrase. Rieff's observations and predictions are today confirmed by the situation in Europe where the civilizational crisis is most evident. Birthrates have fallen, unassimilated immigrant communities have created two societies in many cities whilst the intelligentsia cling to a false ideology of pacifism that masks resentment at powerlessness and in some instances becomes complicit with evil.
This European malaise is very thoroughly examined, from various angles, by Bruce Bawer in While Europe Slept, Claire Berlinski in Menace in Europe, Walter Laqueur in The Last Days of Europe and Chantal Delsol in Icarus Fallen.