Shrink: A Cultural History of Psychoanalysis in America (Hardcover)

A Cultural History of Psychoanalysis in America

By Lawrence R. Samuel

University of Nebraska Press, 9780803244764, 253pp.

Publication Date: April 1, 2013



"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 the Author

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.

Praise For Shrink: A Cultural History of Psychoanalysis in America

“A fascinating, funny, and fast-paced exploration of how psychoanalysis has become subtly but deeply ingrained in everything from American art and advertising to our aspirations and identities.”—Stephen J. Kraus, author of Psychological Foundations of Success: A Harvard-Trained Scientist Separates the Science of Success from Self-Help Snake Oil
-Stephen J. Kraus

“An exceptionally well-researched, accessible book that will undoubtedly appeal to both professionals in the psychoanalytic field and the interested lay reader.”—Therese Ragen, author of The Consulting Room and Beyond: Psychoanalytic Work and Its Reverberations in the Analyst’s Life
-Therese Ragen

“Samuel expertly reveals the impact of the new ‘mind science’ and traces its evolution in areas as disparate as the arts, the social sciences, architecture, and the law. Fascinating and compelling, Shrink should be required reading for anyone who is a student of psychology, a practicing clinician, or currently in treatment.”—Michael Mongno, psychoanalyst and founder of Present Centered Therapies
-Michael Mongno