Therapeutic Worlds: Popular Psychology and the Sociocultural Organisation of Intimate Life, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Therapeutic Worlds

Popular Psychology and the Sociocultural Organisation of Intimate Life, 1st Edition

By Daniel Nehring, Dylan Kerrigan


186 pages | 3 B/W Illus.

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Hardback: 9781472425980
pub: 2019-02-06
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This book builds a fresh perspective on therapeutic narratives of intimate life. Focusing on the question of how popular psychology organises everyday experiences of intimacy, its argument is grounded in qualitative research in Trinidad in the Anglophone Caribbean.

Against the backdrop of Trinidad’s colonial and postcolonial history, the authors map the development of therapeutic institutions and popular therapeutic practices and explore how transnationally mobile, commercial forms of popular psychology, mostly originating in the Global North, have taken root in Trinidadian society through online social networks, self-help books, and other media. In this sense, the book adds to social research on the transnational spread of a digital attention economy and its participation in the proliferation of popular psychological discourse.

Drawing on in-depth interviews with self-help readers, the book considers how popular psychology organises their everyday experiences of intimate life. It argues that the proliferation of self-help media contributes to the psychologisation of intimate relationships and obscures the social dimensions of intimacy in terms of gender, race, ethnicity, and other social structures and inequalities. At the same time, the book draws on anthropological arguments about the colonisation of consciousness in the Global South to interpret the insertion of transnationally mobile popular psychology into Trinidadian society.

An innovative contribution to scholarship on therapeutic cultures, which explores the widely under-researched dissemination of popular psychology in the Global South, the book adds to a sociological understanding of the ways in which therapeutic narratives of self and intimate relationships come to be incorporated into everyday experience. As such, it will appeal to scholars of cultural studies, anthropology, and the sociology of gender, sexuality, families, and personal life.

Table of Contents

List of Tables

List of Figures

Series editors’ foreword



1. The psychological imagination

2. Psychology and the social organisation of power

3. Transnational popular psychology in Trinidad

4. A brief social history of marriage, love, and intimacy in Trinidad

5. Love, intimacy, and relationship management

6. Adaptation, gender roles, and the need for self-help

7. Popular psychology and the colonisation of intimate life in Trinidad

8. The psychologisation of intimate life


About the Authors

Daniel Nehring is Associate Professor of Sociology at East China University of Science and Technology in Shanghai. His research explores the personal consequences of globalisation and rapid social change. In particular, he is interested in the transnationalisation of therapeutic narratives of self and social relationships. He is the author of Sociology, a co-author of Transnational Popular Psychology and the Global Self-Help Industry and the co-editor of Intimacies and Cultural Change.

Dylan Kerrigan is a lecturer in Anthropology and Political Sociology at the University of the West Indies, St Augustine Campus, Trinidad and Tobago. His research studies the way societies change over time and the cultural processes that accompany such change. He is a co-author of Transnational Popular Psychology and the Global Self-Help Industry and is currently developing a manuscript entitled Elites in the Caribbean.

About the Series

Therapeutic Cultures

This interdisciplinary series explores the role which therapeutic discourses and practices play in the organisation of social life, critically addressing the two broad questions of how therapeutic knowledge is popularised beyond academia and mental health care, and how it participates in popular culture, and in institutional structures and processes in government, law, education, media, health, work, family life, public and private policies. Therapeutic Cultures seeks to address the histories of therapeutic culture and engage with its contemporary manifestations, so welcomes books that examine the transnationalisation of therapeutic discourses and practices and their uses in local institutional settings, as well as studies of the ways in which therapeutic discourses and practices participate in the social organisation of power, and how they become ingrained across a wide array of institutions.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Gender Studies