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Political FreudA History$
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Eli Zaretsky

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780231172448

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231172448.001.0001

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Psychoanalysis and the Spirit of Capitalism

Psychoanalysis and the Spirit of Capitalism

(p.15) 1 Psychoanalysis and the Spirit of Capitalism
Political Freud

Eli Zaretsky

Columbia University Press

The first chapter attempts to create a context for political Freudianism, especially its American wing. It situates the sweep of psychoanalytic history amid the shift from nineteenth-century competitive capitalism to twentieth-century corporate capitalism, with its encouragement of a hedonistic and expansive consumerism. This shift precipitated a new understanding of personal life. The chapter explains this affinity by arguing that analysis helped provide “a new spirit of capitalism” for the era of mass consumption. The transition to a consumer-centered ethic included a long-term revolution in sexual and familial norms to which Freudianism was central, one that reached its high point in the 1960s.

Keywords:   Freud, Freudianism, capitalism, Consumerism, the unconscious

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