Freud, Anxiety, and the Cold War

Louis Menand

in After Freud Left

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780226081373
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226081397 | DOI:
Freud, Anxiety, and the Cold War

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This chapter describes a second major theme in the midcentury American cultural context—anxiety—which it considers as a concept that came to mark the era just after World War II. It specifically suggests that one reason for the “fit” between Freudianism and postwar American culture had to do with what might be called the Cold War discourse of anxiety, which Freudianism formalized. Cold War conditions toned the existing discourses, and an example was the discourse of anxiety. Anxiety played a significant part in atheistic existentialism, and this was a place where the wires get somewhat crossed. The Cold War discourse of anxiety was shown to be a somewhat improbable amalgam of European existentialism, psychoanalytic theory, some sociology and the history of ideas, and the promotional practices of the pharmaceutical industry.

Keywords: anxiety; World War II; Freudianism; postwar American culture; Cold War; atheistic existentialism; psychoanalytic theory; sociology; pharmaceutical industry; European existentialism

Chapter.  8094 words. 

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