Eli Zaretsky's Secrets of the Soul: A Social and Cultural History of Psychoanalysis does not focus on the truth claims of psychoanalysis but on its social meanings and its influence, for good or ill. Its central idea is that psychoanalysis came into being as the theory and practice of "personal life"—that is, "the experience of having an identity distinct from one's place in the family, in society, and in the social division of labor." In Zaretsky's account, the self-conscious embrace of individual identity became a major social force with the advent of the "second industrial revolution," which transformed American capitalism into an instrument of mass consumption, stimulating fantasies of personal gratification, weakening familial authority, and promoting greater freedom for women and youth. Sigmund Freud's conception of a personal unconscious, of a distinction between public and private, social and individual meaning, resonated profoundly with these changes.


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pp. 113-116
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