The Public Interest

The therapeutic society

Francis Fukuyama

Summer 1998

WHILE the sentiment behind bumper stickers reading “Kill All Lawyers” is fairly widespread among Americans, the feeling “Kill All Psychologists” is much less common, as are jokes about inane or greedy mental-health professionals. After reading James L. Nolan’s brilliant analysis, The Therapeutic State, † it is not at all clear why this should be so. Like lawyers, the numbers of psychologists, psychiatrists, therapists, mental-health counselors, and the like has exploded in recent years.  With the authority of modern science, this group has purveyed what he calls the “therapeutic ethos” much more thoroughly, and to much more deleterious effect, than litigiousness and other evils associated with the legal profession.

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