Living in therapeutic culture

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Self-reflexivity and self-identity have turned into core projects of modern times. As a result, women and men of different cultural backgrounds increasingly often seek support in therapy and counseling. However, talking through things, being open in relationships and seeking happiness as psychotherapeutic values and modes of talk also infiltrate everyday activities and professional tasks (Fairclough 1992; Cameron 2000a; McLeod & Wright 2003). Indeed members of late modern societies live in what is commonly referred to as ‘therapeutic culture’ (cf. Giddens 1991; Furedi 2004). In this paper we make a link between self-identity in modernity, the discourse of psychotherapy and coaching and symbolic feminine discourse to claim that the psychotherapeutic strategies and modes of constituting the self are in fact gendered, i.e. they rely on aspects of symbolic feminine discourse (cf. Lakoff 1975; Coates 1996; Holmes 1998). And since a successful modern communicator, both in private and professional settings, needs to rely on discourse norms as well as interactional and communicative strategies which are at the heart of various forms of ‘talking cure’, feminine discourse can function as an agent of emancipation and social/professional advancement. This is a particularly socially-charged issue since public sphere in most societies still predominately belongs to men.


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