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Yates, C. (2011). Charismatic Therapy Culture and the Seductions of Emotional Well-Being. Free Associations, 12(2):59-84.

(2011). Free Associations, 12(2):59-84

Charismatic Therapy Culture and the Seductions of Emotional Well-Being

Candida Yates

Notions of ‘therapy’ have become ubiquitous in popular culture as a way to make sense of identity. This article argues that a particular notion of therapy, which is linked to a desire for ‘well-being’, has become a signifier for anxieties about subjectivity, loss and cultural change. Tracing some of the key debates about notions of therapy culture over the past fifty years within psychosocial and cultural studies, the article explores the relationship between aspects of therapy culture, notions of emotional well-being, celebrity culture and the emergence of ‘charismatic psychotherapy’ through examples taken from popular culture and the media, focusing in particular on representations of the celebrity therapist, Derek Draper. Taking a psycho-cultural approach, the article combines psychosocial and cultural studies with a psychoanalytic emphasis on object relations, where an understanding of the unconscious is contextualised by an awareness of the political and historical context in which those processes take place.

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