According to current thinking, anyone who fails to succeed must have something wrong with them. The pressure to achieve and be happy is taking a heavy toll, resulting in a warped view of the self, disorientation, and despair. People are lonelier than ever before. Today’s pay-for-performance mentality is turning institutions such as schools, universities, and hospitals into businesses ― even individuals are being made to think of themselves as one-person enterprises. Love is increasingly hard to find, and we struggle to lead meaningful lives.
In What about Me?, Paul Verhaeghe’s main concern is how social change has led to this psychic crisis and altered the way we think about ourselves. He investigates the effects of 30 years of neoliberalism, free-market forces, privatisation, and the relationship between our engineered society and individual identity. It turns out that who we are is, as always, determined by the context in which we live.
From his clinical experience as a psychotherapist, Verhaeghe shows the profound impact that social change is having on mental health, even affecting the nature of the disorders from which we suffer. But his book ends on a note of cautious optimism. Can we once again become masters of our fate?
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Clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst Paul Verhaeghe is head of the psychoanalytical department at the University of Ghent. With his books Between Hysteria and Woman (1996) and On Being Normal and Other Disorders (2002) he gained international recognition as an expert on Freud and Lacan. He acquired a broad readership with Love in a Time of Loneliness (1998, updated 2011) and The End of Psychotherapy (2009), while The Effects on Identity of a Neoliberal Meritocracy won him a prize for the best essay of 2011 from Liberales. The American edition of On Being Normal and Other Disorders (2002) was awarded the Goethe Prize. His latest work What About Me? The struggle for identity in a market-based society was published in German, English, Chinese, Korean and Slovenian.Review:
‘A remarkable book ... What About Me? The Struggle for Identity in a Market-Based Society is one of those books that, by making connections between apparently distinct phenomena, permits sudden new insights into what is happening to us and why.’ (George Monbiot)
‘Paul Verhaeghe brilliantly captures the long-term impact that living in a profit-obsessed society has had on our psychology. An excellent book.' (Hanif Kureishi)
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