Wallstein Verlag

Maik Tändler

The Therapeutic Decade

The Psycho-boom in the 1970s

504 pages, 14,0 x 22,2
ISBN: 978-3-8353-1850-2 (2016)


German Version

A cultural history of the West German »pscho-boom« in the 1970s, between the scientification of the social sphere and the politicisation of the self in the wake of the 1968 movement.

Around 1970, a wave arose in the Federal Republic of Germany that centred on the popularisation of psychological knowledge and psychotherapeutic practices.

Scientific and popular literature on the themes of psychology, psychoanalysis and psychotherapy came onto the market in ever-increasing numbers and editions, and hundreds of thousands of people attended therapy and self-awareness groups.

Maik Tändler reconstructs the complex scientific, cultural and political conditions under which this »psycho-boom« developed, and examines its social dynamics. It becomes apparent that it cannot be reduced to marginal »psychosects« or to the emergence of a depoliticised »new inwardness«.

Rather, it is associated with a general social development that was significantly promoted by the socio-political promises of the years of the 1968 movement. The rapid spread of psychological/therapeutic practices in the 1970s can be explained primarily by the fact that they were understood as democratising and emancipatory technologies of the self. But whilst the therapeutic utopias petered out towards the end of the decade, the psycho-boom paved the way towards the long-term spread of therapeutic self-optimisation technologies, characterised by the continual advancement in the economisation of the self.

Maik Tändler, born in 1979, studied medieval and modern history and philosophy at the University of Göttingen, where he was a research assistant at the Zeitgeschichtlicher Arbeitskreis Niedersachsen. Since October 2015 he has worked as a research assistant at the Historical Institute of the University of Jena.
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