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Hamilton, J.W. (1971). Some Cultural Determinants of Intrapsychic Structure and Psychopathology. Psychoanal. Rev., 58(2):279-294.

(1971). Psychoanalytic Review, 58(2):279-294

Some Cultural Determinants of Intrapsychic Structure and Psychopathology

James W. Hamilton, M.D.

Perfection of means and confusion of goals seem, in my opinion, to characterize our age.

Albert Einstein

In America, since 1900, there has been noted a gradual shift from the Protestant ethic which stressed self-reliance, rugged individualism, hard work and thrift as the path to self-fulfillment and salvation, and which so dominated the development of the country during the nineteenth century, to what Whyte has called “the social ethic” which he defines as “a belief in the group as the source of creativity; a belief in ‘belongingness' as the ultimate need of the individual; and a belief in the application of science to achieve the belongingness.”92 Although possibly more subtle, Calvinistic themes persist as emphasis continues to be placed upon the acquisition of money and material goods as a reflection of one's status, except that garrish ostentation has given way to the doctrine of inconspicuous consumption and the expense account. With the overall discouragement of thrift accompanied by the advent of credit buying, a greater number of products is available to an ever-increasing public market, which has been manipulated by highly polished advertising techniques.61

Of America, Hofstadter40 has written, “It is a country of people whose status expectations are random and uncertain, and yet whose status aspirations have been whipped up to a high pitch by our democratic ethos and our rags-to-riches mythology.”

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