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Miller, J. (2007). The designed self: Psychoanalysis and contemporary identities, Carlo Strenger, Analytic Press, New Jersey, 2004, 193 pp.. Am. J. Psychoanal., 67(2):203-205.

(2007). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 67(2):203-205

The designed self: Psychoanalysis and contemporary identities, Carlo Strenger, Analytic Press, New Jersey, 2004, 193 pp.

Review by:
Josh Miller

In his book The Designed Self, Carlo Strenger uses a combination of psychoanalysis and cultural studies in an attempt to accurately describe the contemporary self. Relying primarily on theoretical analyses of contemporary society and specific case studies from his clinical work, Strenger constructs a fluid, multifaceted idea of the self that requires that psychoanalysts be more open minded and flexible in order to adapt to the situations and needs of their patients. While, in my opinion, Strenger's work fails to establish the value of psychoanalysis in contemporary culture, The Designed Self still serves as a thoughtful contribution to the psychoanalytic field by suggesting ways in which traditional, historical psychoanalysis can better serve the typically fragmented, pluralistic selves of persons of 21st century Western society.

To ground his work in the context of contemporary culture, Strenger uses John Seabrook's theory of Nobrow culture and David Brooks’ concept of Bobo ideology—a surprising choice, since Seabrook and Brooks are both journalists whose works appeal to a popular audience and lack a scholarly basis in theory or research.

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