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Therapy Culture

Cultivating Vulnerability in an Uncertain Age

10:00am, Saturday 22 November 2003, Great Hall, King's College London, the Strand, London (quad entrance through barrier)

In recent decades ‘therapy’ has become a cultural phenomenon rather than just a clinical technique, influencing virtually every sphere of life. New syndromes and traumas regularly afflict people, whether it is soldiers with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, workers being bullied in the office, or filmstars suffering from sex addiction. Governments have adopted a variety of new therapeutic aims. Improving self esteem is now an accepted goal of education; at university, seeing a counsellor is now almost as routine as attending a lecture. A therapeutic ethos now dominates humanitarian interventions in international conflicts, while relations between the state and its citizens at home are being transformed by therapeutic welfare initiatives.

This privileging of the emotions entails a radical redefinition of personhood. Increasingly, vulnerability is presented as the defining feature of people’s psychology. Terms like ‘at risk’, ‘scarred for life’ and ‘psychologically damaged’ evoke a unique sense of powerlessness.

Speakers at this conference will question the widely accepted thesis that all this is an enlightened shift towards ‘emotional intelligence’ and empowerment. By framing the problems of everyday life in emotional terms, is the therapeutic culture encouraging us all to become victims, to feel ill and powerless? Is the therapeutic culture, as Furedi argues, primarily about imposing a new conformity through the management of people’s emotions?

10.30am - 12noon
Therapy Culture - general trends

Speaker
Frank Furedi
professor of sociology, University of Kent, and author of Therapy Culture
Respondents
Adam Curtis
maker of The Century of The Self, a BBC2 documentary series about how Freud’s ideas have been used for social and political purposes
Bill Durodié
senior research fellow, Centre for Defence Studies, King’s College London
Hilly Janes
editor of Body&Soul, The Times
Dr David Wainwright
University of Bristol Medical School
Chair
Claire Fox
director, IoI
12.15 - 1.30pm
We’re all ill now: therapy and the fragile personality

Speaker
Sally Satel MD
author of One Nation Under Therapy and How Political Correctness is Corrupting Medicine
Respondents
Dr Michael Fitzpatrick
GP and author of The Tyranny of Health: doctors and the regulation of lifestyle
Frank Furedi
professor of sociology, University of Kent
Virginia Ironside
the Independent
Andrew Marshall
Body&Soul columnist, The Times
Chair
Tony Gilland
IoI
2.30 - 3.45pm
We’re all stressed now: therapy in the workplace

Speaker
Dr David Wainwright
University of Bristol Medical School, author of Work stress: The Making of a Modern Epidemic
Respondents
Jennie Bristow
commissioning editor, spiked
Frank Furedi
professor of sociology, University of Kent
Derek Summerfield
honorary senior lecturer, Institute of Psychiatry
Chair
Tiffany Jenkins
IoI
4.15 - 5.30pm
War and conflict: the internationalisation of therapy culture

Speakers
Vanessa Pupavac
lecturer, School of Politics, University of Nottingham, author of Therapeutic Governance: Psychosocial Intervention and Trauma Risk Management
Derek Summerfield
honorary senior lecturer, Institute of Psychiatry, author of Effects of War: Moral Knowledge, Revenge, Reconciliation, and Medicalised Concepts of ‘Recovery’
Respondents
David Chandler
senior lecturer in international relations, Centre for the Study of Democracy, University of Westminster; editor of Rethinking Human Rights: Critical Approaches to International Politics
Frank Furedi
professor of sociology, University of Kent
Chair
Dolan Cummings
IoI
5.35 - 6.30pm
Roundtable ruminations on therapy culture

Speakers
Adam Curtis, Michael Gove (Saturday editor, The Times), Frank Furedi, Sally Satel

READINGS

Event Transcripts:

< a href="../../documents/transcriptsandreports/therapyculture/TherapyCultOpeningRemarks.pdf">

Opening remarks and panel discussion
Closing remarks

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