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Autumn Books

The Romance of American Psychology: Political Culture in the Age of Experts

BMJ 1995; 311 doi: (Published 21 October 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;311:1108
  1. Kwame Mckenzie

    Ellen Herman University of California Press, pounds sterling28, pp 406 ISBN 0 520 08598 1

    In the name of enlightenment psychologists promise help, faith, knowledge, and comfort, devising formulas for happy living and ways of dissolving knots in conflict. What was once a quiet backwater discipline has grown exponentially, with membership of the American Psychological Association increasing by more than 1100% from 2739 in 1940 to 30839 in 1970.

    Ellen Herman, a social scientist at Harvard University, tracks this growth and investigates how and why psychology has become the source of the most potent ideology in contemporary America. From its humble beginnings, when behavioural scientists had to aggressively carve out a niche for themselves in the second world war, through their involvement in the Cold War and their input into foreign and domestic policy, and finally to …

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