ASSEMBLING THE MODERN SELF
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ASSEMBLING THE MODERN SELF book
Musil writes of these authorities ‘butting in’. But their intrusion can take many forms. There are, indeed, many times when it is a matter of the knock at the door, the uninvited presence, the demand for admission: the social workers descending upon those suspected of abusing their children, the industrial consultant ‘enriching’ the working routines of labourers in factories and offices, the psychiatrist assessing the defendant before charge, verdict or sentence or running ‘therapeutic groups’ in prison or reformatory; the doctor evaluating a disturbed individual with a view to compelling them to receive psychiatric treatment. But, eagerly or reluctantly, we all too often ask them in, seek out their knowledge in books and magazine articles, listen to them on radio phonein programmes and confessional television talk shows, take ourselves to counsellors, therapists and marriage guidance. And the presence of psy in our contemporary experience is not limited to our encounters with the experts. When we speak to our friends and acquaintances about the ills that trouble us or the hopes that animate us, our conversations will be studded with psychological terms-stress, anxiety, motivation, personality, self-esteem and so on. Even when we are alone, in our most intimate experiences of ourselves, psy allows us to understand the actions of those around us, to describe our personality, passions and hopes, to understand our sorrows and calibrate our disappointments, to project and embark upon a future for ourselves. In being acted upon and acting upon ourselves in these ways, modern human beings (in different ways for women and for men, for the young and the old, for the rich and the poor) have become psychological selves.