A Critique of Contemporary Psychology
Russell Jacoby defines social amnesia as society's repression of remembrance—society's own past. In this book, Jacoby excavates the critical and historical concepts that have fallen prey to the dynamic of a society that strips them both of their historical and critical content. Social Amnesia is an effort to remember what is perpetually lost under the pressure of society. It is simultaneously a critique of present practices and theories in psychology. Jacoby's new self-evaluation has the same sharp edge as the book itself, offering special insights into the evolution of psychological theory during the past two decades.
In his probing, self-critical new introduction, Jacoby maintains that any serious appraisal of psychology or sociology, or any discipline, must seek to separate the political from the theoretical. He discusses how in the years since Social Amnesia was first published society has oscillated from extreme subjectivism to extreme objectivism, which feed off each other and constitute two forms of social amnesia: a forgetting of the past and a pseudo-historical consciousness. Social Amnesia contains a forceful argument for "thinking against the grain—an endeavor that remains as urgent as ever." It is an important work for sociologists, psychologists, and psychoanalysts.
"Penetrating, provocative and just possibly a landmark argument-starter."
"I know of no other analysis which succeeds as well in discussing the internal links between psychology and society in the contemporary period."
"Jacoby is appropriately critical of traditional Marxism, as the Frankfurt school has been, and he has been particularly careful to keep his concept of consciousness dialectical. Crucial to his book, and in many ways its best part, is his assessment of the role of therapy in the psychoanalytic movement."
—The New York Review of Books