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Fortune, C. (1995). James Hillman and Michael Ventura We've had a Hundred Years of Psychotherapy—And the World's Getting Worse. London: Harper Collins, 1992, 242 pp. pb £11.99.. Free Associations, 5(3):381-384.

(1995). Free Associations, 5(3):381-384

James Hillman and Michael Ventura We've had a Hundred Years of Psychotherapy—And the World's Getting Worse. London: Harper Collins, 1992, 242 pp. pb £11.99.

Review by:
Christopher Fortune

The last time I saw James Hillman, two years ago, he was stripped to the waist, sweat pouring down his bony body, as he beat a drum on stage at a men's workshop. The incongruity of seeing this bookish, cerebral stick of a man, well into his sixties, banging a drum with awkward abandon, was a shock. Rumor had it that the former director of Zurich's prestigious C. G. Jung Institute had given up practicing psychotherapy. What was up? Had James Hillman flipped?

It may appear unseemly to open a serious discussion of Hillman's latest book by describing him with a naked torso and beating a drum. But, it is a fitting image to mark the turn his work has taken. As I discovered in We've Had a Hundred Years of Psychotherapy—And the World's Getting Worse, Hillman has obviously gone through some changes. The man of letters has abandoned his library for the arena. This book is a freewheeling dialogue between Hillman and L.A. Weekly columnist, Michael Ventura, in this role playing Hillman's straight man, the perfect foil for his rambunctious rant—Sancho Panza to Hillman's Don Quixote tilting at windmills. Hillman cuts loose, taking a vigorous swipe at present-day psychotherapy. On a beach in California—home of the human potential movement, Esalen and Big Sur—the two taped their high-spirited conversation, followed it with a thought-provoking exchange of letters, and wound up their dialogue in a Manhattan loft. The outcome is a tantalizing, entertaining, profound, anarchistic, and at times downright preposterous, ‘shoot-from-the-hip’ trip through ‘Hillman's wacky world of psychotherapy.’ Hillman takes aim at the easy targets of pop psychology trends and buzzwords—the ideas of self-help, recovery, dysfunctional, and co-dependence that have spawned a multimillion-dollar industry.

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