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May 25, 2007

I want, therefore I need

Theodore Dalrymple week at the Flea continues with his June 2005 New Criterion review of Sally Satel and Christina Hoff Sommers' "One Nation Under Therapy: How the Helping Culture is Eroding Self-Reliance." This is a sympathetic reading of an argument against "therapism", a term to describe an undermining of self-reliance and, more fundamentally, what it means to be an adult human being.

Therapism has ... corrupted large numbers of people. The assumption that people are easily and permanently damaged by various traumas has led many of them to act the part for the sake of receiving compensation. In this connection, I can’t help recalling a man I met who had been a torturer in the Middle East, but who had himself fallen out with the torturing authorities and had been severely tortured in his turn. When his torture was over, he fled to Britain. What really ruined his life, however, and made it impossible for him ever to work again, was a car accident in Britain, in which someone went into the back of his car at five miles per hour. You wouldn’t have to be a believer in the economic theory of history to spot the explanation of this particular story.

It should go without saying this Oprahfication of the culture extends far beyond the unrelenting and unearned self-esteem of undergraduates - and tenured faculty - which drove me from teaching. Not just our educational system but our foreign policy, indeed, our survival in the face of savages, now depends on the same thinking.

Posted by Ghost of a flea at May 25, 2007 07:17 AM


Oprahfication - Please kindly add that awesome term to the Flea glossary.

Posted by: agent bedhead [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 25, 2007 10:29 AM

I am delighted you enjoyed the term.

Posted by: Ghost of a flea [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 25, 2007 01:13 PM