Psych Out

Reviewing Andrew R. Heinze’s Jews and the American Soul: Human Nature in the Twentieth Century, Alan Mintz writes in TNR:

The extraordinary success of [Joshua Loth Liebman’s] Peace of Mind underscores two significant developments in mid-twentieth-century American culture. Psychoanalysis, which had earlier conquered professional psychiatric circles, now achieved popular acceptance as the dominant explanation for the workings of the human soul. More curiously, the good news was delivered to the American public by a rabbi who made no secret of his Jewish learning. For Andrew R. Heinze, in his ambitious and flawed book, this is no coincidence. Coming at the midpoint of the great modern century, Liebman’s book is the centerpiece of a grand narrative, which begins with Freud and ends with Dr. Joyce Brothers, about how the popularizing energies of Jewish psychologists succeeded in transforming how most Americans think about the self. That many of the figures who fomented this revolution were Jewish is self-evident. The question is whether the fact of their Jewishness is truly meaningful or merely the by-product of marginality and social location.

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