The American Cult of the Experience and the Real/Psychosocial Split

Matthew H. Bowker


myriad social, political, and cultural forces have obstructed the establishment of a robust field of psychosocial studies in America. Such forces include the inhospitable historical context in which the work of prominent psychosocial scholars might have otherwise come to the fore, the well-known pragmatic leanings of American philosophy, positivism in the natural sciences and scientism in social and behavioral sciences, the physicalization and medicalization of suffering, the full (if not excessive) embrace of the body and affect as appropriate loci of research in clinical psychology, the entrenchment of a mind/body split, and more.

            In this paper, I offer a cultural-historical-intellectual background to the American landscape and its relative infertility for psychosocial study, with particular reference to the influence of what I have called elsewhere the ‘ideologies of experience’.


psychoanalysis, theory, experience, philosophy

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