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Layton, L. (2004). Dreams of America/American Dreams. Psychoanal. Dial., 14(2):233-254.

(2004). Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 14(2):233-254

Dreams of America/American Dreams

Lynne Layton, Ph.D.

Drawing on anecdotes that illustrate some European fantasies about the U.S.A. and its citizens, this paper suggests that what's American about American psychoanalysis has to do with differing cultural perspectives on human nature and on the relation of self to other. Via the European prejudices and stereotypes conveyed in the anecdotes, the essay delineates certain enviable things about what the U.S. stands for, such as persistent demands for equality and relatively greater possibilities for social mobility, as well as certain unenviable things, such as a superficial niceness and a tendency to deny the individual's embeddedness in social contexts. The paper puts relational analytic theory in its socio-historic context, praising its deconstruction of analytic authority while questioning the way it for the most part maintains the analytic tradition of grounding the individual in no larger social context than that of the family.

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