Beneath the Crust of Culture.
Psychoanalytic Anthropology and the Cultural Unconscious in American Life.
STEIN, Howard F.
Amsterdam/New York, NY, 2004, xv, 137 pp.
Contemporary Psychoanalytic Studies 1
“All psychohistorians should study this book closely and learn from it. … belongs in all decent libraries”
The Journal of Psychohistory 34 (4) Spring 2007
"Readers who immerse themselves in an open spirit to his work will encounter a rich, stimulating, and disturbing view of the contemporary American cultural scene. While [Stein] points to some very distressing trends powered by unconscious motives and fantasies, he also offers the sober consolation that comes from insight and understanding, and from the encouragement to face up to loss and change on the group level as well as in individual life…"
Robert A. Paul, Emory University, in Psychoanalysis, Culture and Society, volume 10, number 3
"Howard Stein is a remarkable thinker -a true psychoanalytic anthropologist in the tradition of LaBarre, Devereaux, Boyer and Spiro, combining ethnographic research with clinical practice. His latest book is full of insights and provocative ideas… we should be grateful to Howard Stein for his penetrating insights and original syntheses."
Philip K. Bock, University of New Mexico
Journal of Anthropological Research
This impressive book by Howard Stein, one of the most insightful and important cultural analysts writing today, offers a profound understanding of how social problems ranging from xenophobia, terrorism, and school violence to natural disasters and corporate downsizing are exacerbated, provoked, and sometimes even produced by our deepest psychological needs and vulnerabilities — forces of which we are largely unaware but which we can come to understand and thus deal with more productively through a method of psychoanalytically informed cultural analysis that Stein both explains and performs in this eminently readable and engaging book. The insights and methodology offered here are indispensable for any cultural workers‹including scholars, teachers, public servants, and government officials‹who wish to counter the toxic elements of culture and develop its possibilities for promoting peace and social justice.
Editor, JPCS: Journal for the Psychoanalysis of Culture & Society
Since September 2001, the people of the United States have been preoccupied with dangers coming from the "Others." Howard Stein deserves our gratitude for turning our attention to ourselves. In addition to examining the American response to foreign terrorism, Stein provides fascinating and sometimes frightening insights of events that influence us collectively. He investigates topics such as the bombing in Oklahoma City, the student shootings at Columbine High School, and the big corporations treating workers like cattle. Readers will question and wonder about life in the United States as experienced by themselves and their neighbours. This most timely book makes a powerful impact.
Vamik D. Volkan, M.D., LFAPA, FACPsa
Professor Emeritus, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia, and
Erik Erikson Scholar, the Austen Riggs Center, Stockbridge, Massachusetts
In this book, the author presents a pioneering interpretation of culture as constituting a dynamic relationship between the visible “crust” and the elusive “core” of social life. He meticulously maps the role of the unconscious in shaping much of American life in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. He crosses and transcends disciplinary boundaries in studies of September 11, 2001, the 1999 Columbine High School massacre, the execution of Timothy McVeigh, the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, the 1999 Worcester, Massachusetts fire, and the eruption of hypernationalism and xenophobia in nations and workplaces — all as cultural phenomena with a psychodynamic core. He shows how the experience of loss in the face of massive social change often leads to equally massive defence against the experience of mourning. Beneath the Crust of Culture will be of interest not only for behavioural and social science professionals, but also for a lay public interested in understandings of culture deeper than the surface of the news and of official pronouncements.
FOREWORD by Jon Mills
ONE: Days of Awe: September 11, 2001 and Its Cultural Psychodynamics
TWO: Disposable Youth: The 1999 Columbine High School Massacre as American Metaphor
THREE: The Execution of Timothy McVeigh: Cultural Mystification and Deeper Clues
FOUR: Hypernationalism and Xenophobia in Workplace and Nation State
FIVE: The Left Out and the Forgotten: An Approach to Understanding Disasters
SIX: Mourning and Society: Situating Loss and Grief in the History and Philosophy of Science
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Howard F. Stein, Ph.D., a psychoanalytic anthropologist, is a professor in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA, where he has taught for twenty-five years. Author of over two hundred scholarly articles and chapters, and author or editor of twenty-two books, his most recent book is Nothing Personal, Just Business: A Guided Journey into Organizational Darkness (2001).