[Review of the book What about me? The struggle for identity in a market-based society, Paul Verhaeghe, 2014]

Benjamin Nienass, Stefan Trautmann

Research output: Contribution to journalBook/Film/Article reviewOther research output

Abstract

In his book What about me? The struggle for identity in a market-based society, clinical psychologist and psychotherapist Paul Verhaeghe tries to elucidate the link between neo-liberal society, identity, and mental health. Verhaeghe starts from the observation that our identity is shaped by the norms and rules of the society we live in; in short, “our self is…of external origin” (page 22). What kind of identity do people acquire in modern western society? According to Verhaeghe, a competitive, meritocratic society that is focused on maximizing material consumption confers the ideal of individual success and perfection on people, combined with an individual responsibility to achieve these goals. In his view, this combination is toxic for mental health. The rat races that we are exposed to from the earliest school days and throughout our work lives have only a few winners, but many losers. Moreover, individualized notions of responsibility for success and perfection put the burden of failure firmly on the individual. In the past, people might have been worse off in many ways, but expectations and interpretations of success in terms of individual effort lead to novel “disorders,” often directly defined in terms of failure to perform according to standards of success (e.g., ‘attention deficit’). Subsequently, as Verhaeghe argues, current ideology attempts to lift this burden by falsely interpreting many of these disorders in genetic or biological terms. In contrast, Verhaeghe claims that these disorders display abnormality only from the vantage point of neo-liberal norms of success and responsibility, which he describes as the new “Social Darwinism in economic guise” (page 119).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)205-206
JournalJournal of Economic Psychology
Volume49
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2015

Fingerprint

market
responsibility
Mental Health
mental health
social darwinism
psychotherapist
ADHD
psychologist
ideology
Society
interpretation
school
economics
Responsibility
Burden
Mental health
Social Darwinism
Economics
Ideology
Rat

Cite this

@article{ed71da3f0b8d47e5838d9789d148dd59,
title = "[Review of the book What about me?: The struggle for identity in a market-based society, Paul Verhaeghe, 2014]",
abstract = "In his book What about me? The struggle for identity in a market-based society, clinical psychologist and psychotherapist Paul Verhaeghe tries to elucidate the link between neo-liberal society, identity, and mental health. Verhaeghe starts from the observation that our identity is shaped by the norms and rules of the society we live in; in short, “our self is…of external origin” (page 22). What kind of identity do people acquire in modern western society? According to Verhaeghe, a competitive, meritocratic society that is focused on maximizing material consumption confers the ideal of individual success and perfection on people, combined with an individual responsibility to achieve these goals. In his view, this combination is toxic for mental health. The rat races that we are exposed to from the earliest school days and throughout our work lives have only a few winners, but many losers. Moreover, individualized notions of responsibility for success and perfection put the burden of failure firmly on the individual. In the past, people might have been worse off in many ways, but expectations and interpretations of success in terms of individual effort lead to novel “disorders,” often directly defined in terms of failure to perform according to standards of success (e.g., ‘attention deficit’). Subsequently, as Verhaeghe argues, current ideology attempts to lift this burden by falsely interpreting many of these disorders in genetic or biological terms. In contrast, Verhaeghe claims that these disorders display abnormality only from the vantage point of neo-liberal norms of success and responsibility, which he describes as the new “Social Darwinism in economic guise” (page 119).",
author = "Benjamin Nienass and Stefan Trautmann",
note = "Title: What about me? The struggle for identity in a market-based society. Author: Paul Verhaeghe Year published: 2014 Number of pages: 265 Publisher: Elsevier ISBN: 978-1922247377",
year = "2015",
month = "8",
doi = "10.1016/j.joep.2015.06.002",
language = "English",
volume = "49",
pages = "205--206",
journal = "Journal of Economic Psychology",
issn = "0167-4870",
publisher = "Elsevier Science BV",

}

[Review of the book What about me? The struggle for identity in a market-based society, Paul Verhaeghe, 2014]. / Nienass, Benjamin; Trautmann, Stefan.

In: Journal of Economic Psychology, Vol. 49, 08.2015, p. 205-206.

Research output: Contribution to journalBook/Film/Article reviewOther research output

TY - JOUR

T1 - [Review of the book What about me?

T2 - The struggle for identity in a market-based society, Paul Verhaeghe, 2014]

AU - Nienass, Benjamin

AU - Trautmann, Stefan

N1 - Title: What about me? The struggle for identity in a market-based society. Author: Paul Verhaeghe Year published: 2014 Number of pages: 265 Publisher: Elsevier ISBN: 978-1922247377

PY - 2015/8

Y1 - 2015/8

N2 - In his book What about me? The struggle for identity in a market-based society, clinical psychologist and psychotherapist Paul Verhaeghe tries to elucidate the link between neo-liberal society, identity, and mental health. Verhaeghe starts from the observation that our identity is shaped by the norms and rules of the society we live in; in short, “our self is…of external origin” (page 22). What kind of identity do people acquire in modern western society? According to Verhaeghe, a competitive, meritocratic society that is focused on maximizing material consumption confers the ideal of individual success and perfection on people, combined with an individual responsibility to achieve these goals. In his view, this combination is toxic for mental health. The rat races that we are exposed to from the earliest school days and throughout our work lives have only a few winners, but many losers. Moreover, individualized notions of responsibility for success and perfection put the burden of failure firmly on the individual. In the past, people might have been worse off in many ways, but expectations and interpretations of success in terms of individual effort lead to novel “disorders,” often directly defined in terms of failure to perform according to standards of success (e.g., ‘attention deficit’). Subsequently, as Verhaeghe argues, current ideology attempts to lift this burden by falsely interpreting many of these disorders in genetic or biological terms. In contrast, Verhaeghe claims that these disorders display abnormality only from the vantage point of neo-liberal norms of success and responsibility, which he describes as the new “Social Darwinism in economic guise” (page 119).

AB - In his book What about me? The struggle for identity in a market-based society, clinical psychologist and psychotherapist Paul Verhaeghe tries to elucidate the link between neo-liberal society, identity, and mental health. Verhaeghe starts from the observation that our identity is shaped by the norms and rules of the society we live in; in short, “our self is…of external origin” (page 22). What kind of identity do people acquire in modern western society? According to Verhaeghe, a competitive, meritocratic society that is focused on maximizing material consumption confers the ideal of individual success and perfection on people, combined with an individual responsibility to achieve these goals. In his view, this combination is toxic for mental health. The rat races that we are exposed to from the earliest school days and throughout our work lives have only a few winners, but many losers. Moreover, individualized notions of responsibility for success and perfection put the burden of failure firmly on the individual. In the past, people might have been worse off in many ways, but expectations and interpretations of success in terms of individual effort lead to novel “disorders,” often directly defined in terms of failure to perform according to standards of success (e.g., ‘attention deficit’). Subsequently, as Verhaeghe argues, current ideology attempts to lift this burden by falsely interpreting many of these disorders in genetic or biological terms. In contrast, Verhaeghe claims that these disorders display abnormality only from the vantage point of neo-liberal norms of success and responsibility, which he describes as the new “Social Darwinism in economic guise” (page 119).

U2 - 10.1016/j.joep.2015.06.002

DO - 10.1016/j.joep.2015.06.002

M3 - Book/Film/Article review

VL - 49

SP - 205

EP - 206

JO - Journal of Economic Psychology

JF - Journal of Economic Psychology

SN - 0167-4870

ER -