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We've Had a Hundred Years of Psychotherapy & the World's Getting Worse
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We've Had a Hundred Years of Psychotherapy & the World's Getting Worse

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  494 ratings  ·  50 reviews
This furious, trenchant, and audacious series of interrelated dialogues and letters takes a searing look at not only the legacy of psychotherapy, but also practically every aspect of contemporary living--from sexuality to politics, media, the environment, and life in the city. James Hillman--controversial renegade Jungian psychologist, the man Robert Bly has called "the mo ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published May 14th 1993 by HarperOne (first published 1992)
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Richard Reese
Mar 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The Industrial Revolution blew the lid off Pandora’s Box, releasing a poisonous whirlwind of evils into the world. Millions of rural people were herded into vast, filthy, disease-ridden cities to live among hordes of strangers, perform miserable work, and die young. It was pure hell, and many people snapped. Insane asylums began popping up like mushrooms, and the psychotherapy industry was born.

In Vienna, Freud kept busy treating hysterical Austrians, and Jung worked with “schizy” inmates at a
Mar 26, 2008 rated it really liked it
I read this while I was in the middle of getting my doctorate in clinical psychology. It was during a time that I was feeling irreverent and frustrated and I delighted in all the subversive ideas about psychotherapy. James Hillman is brilliant and brave. I recently re-read it and found it to be somewhat cynical and not completely informed, but still a stimulating read!
Heather Smith
Jan 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
We've Had A Hundred Years of Psychotherapy And the World's Getting Worse is a tonic for the hundreds of pop-psyche books pouring out of publishing houses every year. The book consists mainly of letters between the authors, Michael Ventura and James Hillman. Ventura is a columnist for the L.A. Weekly and a novelist; Hillman is a scholar, writer, and psychologist who has written numerous books, including Re-Visioning Psychology and Dreams and the Underworld.

The book's first and last sections cons
Dec 08, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: psychology, jungian
When I first saw this book, the title struck my attention immediately. I decided I had to read it on principle without knowing anything else about it. And it did not disappoint! Such refreshing honesty with penetrating accuracy. Leave it to a Jungian psychologist to write a book like this – this book is a great example of Jungian psychology in action from a couple of highly creative minds who are quite adept at tapping into our collective unconscious.

Does Hillman go off the deep end at times? Ye
Nov 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I wish that therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists, or any helpers in training would read this book. Anyone involved in any institution, whether its marriage, academia, church, business, psychology, government, whatever, should question the basic myths of that institution and try to evolve them or live them more consciously. You can't really do that until you ask the hard questions though. Getting new ideas in your mind can help you ask the hard questions and this book is about ideas, not conc ...more
May 24, 2020 rated it it was ok
The one truly valuable insight in this book -- and it's a fine one -- is that therapy should not be in the business (emphasis on that word) of trying to cure people of having to adjust to a wretched society, which is impossible anyway; that the best therapy is to take what we normally turn inwards, outwards, for the sake of fixing the society that makes so many of us mad and half-mad.

Too bad this is all couched in a farrago of annoying free-associative blither 'n dither, with a ratio of about on
Eve Lyons
Jun 01, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, philosophy
this book inspired my master's thesis, which was on the therapeutic value of putting your art into the world. a brilliant, fascinating book. ...more
Mar 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I find James Hillman to be most insightful and fearless in presenting truth as he sees it. Its the truth of an Outsider, who sees the dualistic dysfunction in our modern day institutions and values. It can be somewhat depressing to attend to his insight but if one can manage to do that it can lead to a liberating experience in opening towards self knowing. He is very clear about what has gone wrong in society and where it is leading the collective and the individuals.
Steve Greenleaf
Jul 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
I've been reading the works of James Hillman for over three decades now, and only upon reading this book have I come upon a satisfying way to describe the experience: the relation between Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote. Hillman is Road Runner, dashing about the landscape from valley floors to the high mesas without breaking a sweat and at breakneck speeds. I, of course, am Wile E. Coyote, chasing him around attempting to consume him, but always--always--failing. So why does Wile E. Coyote persis ...more
Aja Gray
Feb 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: i-own-this-book
My first meeting with James Hillman lasted 14 hours. At the end, totally enamored with his willingness to sit and talk with me personally for an hour--about love, I hopped up and exclaimed, "James Hillman, may I have a hug?" He replied dryly, "I don't hug."

A humbling experience for the novice psychotherapist and grad student, I was still recovering from this sleight and recalled, of course he doesn't hug, look at his body of work. Duh.

This is one of many of Hillman's works that I will speak
Joli Hamilton
This is a book to be read with a grain of salt (and probably a shot of tequila with lime for that matter) but it should be read. I'm sorry to have put it off so long, the title had put me off, it was dismissive sounding when really, the book is irreverent not dismissive at all. Playing with the very idea of ideas, Hillman and Ventura wander their way through a series of conversations and letters that provoke the imagination. The book made me itchy to be in my life, to stop trying to escape the t ...more
Carl Hovey
May 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent introduction to the thought of James Hillman. The book is composed of three dialogs and one series of letters between Hillman and his friend, Michael Ventura. I won't say I agree with everything Hillman says, but his ideas are creative, sometimes shocking, and most of the time flat-out brilliant. If you're at all interested in James Hillman or Archetypal Psychology, this is a great place to start. ...more
Apr 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: psychology
Great dialogue, some parts more interesting than others. Long list of ways to evaluate an idea: is it fertile, fecund? does it make you think? is it surprising, shocking? does it stop you from habits & bring a spark of reflection? is it delightful to think about? does it seem deep? important? needing to be told? does it wear out quickly? what does the idea want from you? why did it decide to light in your mind? This way of thinking about what we think gives pause.
Jul 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
A good read and only slightly dated for being 25 years old. I didn't really care for the exchange-style format, though that is surmountable. I value Hillman's call to turn the therapy room into a cell of the revolution, that all is not well with the world and that our "disorders" may stem not from childhood but from the very abrasive and alienating society and culture we live in. A lot of poignant ideas covering a range of topics. Worth reading. ...more
Jeanine Marie Swenson
Jan 02, 2009 rated it really liked it
I would also give this book 4.5 stars if I could. A funny collaborative project between a seasoned therapist and a seasoned client (not with each other, by the way), this critique challenges the field to keep growing and learning and to resist complacency and structure. They come up with some deep questions and some even deeper personal answers. Loved this one!
Aug 27, 2010 rated it really liked it
A good read if you like idea books that will turn some common beliefs on their heads. I don't agree with all of the content or find it useful, but it was a good read. ...more
Gerald Jerome
Mar 13, 2019 rated it it was ok
I really don't know what to think about this book. In a sense I was disappointed because I expected the content to be different going off the title, but then again the title isn't completely mischaracterizing of the content. I admire the approach and logic behind the book, but feel it was poorly executed in some facets. I can't say it's a great book, but for the attempt alone, I respect it. The following will be my attempt to understand this publishing in all of its chaos, discursive conversatio ...more
Dec 27, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Sometimes it is good to pick up a book based on the title alone.

It's a transcribed and edited dialogue between a psychotherapist (Hillman) and a novelist (Ventura) talking about Gott und die Welt, but the main focus is how criticism on how psychotherapy focuses only on the individual, so therapists can't do much if the society itself is ill. If everybody's getting therapy in order to fix them, why are things getting worse? That echoes Erich Fromm's The Sane Society, which had a similar main poin
Anita Ashland
Oct 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: psychology
This book is part interview format, part an exchange of letters, and it is very fun to read Hillman in this format. His ideas are eccentric and electric, as always, covering the topics of love/heartbreak, medicority, ideas, how to turn the therapy room into a cell of revolution, plus so much more. A few excerpts are below:

"If we begin in a poetic basis of mind, then psychologists have to be at home in the poetic, first of all, and that means not white bread. If our methods are to meet the madnes
Al Bako
Sep 09, 2021 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars.

Many concepts from this book will stick with me for life. The idea of the acorn becoming a tree, or that our inner nature is encoded in us from birth and our childhood experiences give the inner nature opportunities to express itself instead of shaping it directly. That our family histories don’t go far enough: our ancestors are a part of our stories, too, yet there’s rarely room to discuss them in therapy. I fully endorse the argument that Western romantic relationships (and, from th
Oct 31, 2021 rated it really liked it
It's so White-men bourgeois, it's maddening. But it's more than a little bit enlightening as well. I was going to say it's dated, but it really isn't. I really connected with the time period because I remember 1991 very well, but I was a different political--I should really say apolitical--animal then, so it's really neat to see that people were talking in 1991 the way I would be talking in 1998 without even knowing all this stuff was going on way back when I was a freshman in high school and wa ...more
Aug 13, 2022 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: e-books, borrowed
I was looking for another Hillman book but this was all the library had, and I confess that title got me. It’s an old title 1992, but I do wish it was in audio, because hearing these two have this conversation would have been - chef’s kiss.

In the Borrowbox app, I cannot highlight passages so I ended up taking dozens of screenshots.

I have always been intrigued by America’s addiction to therapy. It so much more prevalent than in Australia. And it seems to be a lifelong thing; you don’t just go fo
Oct 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Let’s start it all over again. I bet it’s going to be a completely different book the second time around.
Having expectations now, “knowing” which ideas are to be represented to me, hopefully leaves me open to read and grasp several more I hadn’t the first time around.
Any away. Need a book that makes you deeply think? This is it.
Eran Zelixon
Nov 26, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This book challenged and changed my thinking about society, myth, art, and of course psychotherapy. There are two sections of transcribed conversation and one section of letters between the authors. It was joyful to follow them riffing off of and pushing each other into increasingly bold territory. I'll read Hillman's The Dream and the Underworld next. ...more
Nov 09, 2020 rated it liked it
I was expecting something a little more scientific. A lot of what's in here is conjecture and stimulating. It's worth the read if you want to hear a dialog out loud, but not worth it if you want a scientific look into how our environment affects our mental health. ...more
Lliam Gregory
May 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A fresh and important take on pyschotherapy and the socio-politic of the world. As relevant now as it was twenty years ago. I can't wait to read it again. ...more
Just two old fuckers babbling and throwing around terms they've picked up like magpies and whining about therapy. ...more
Lindsay Cortright
Apr 03, 2021 rated it it was amazing
excellent, thought-provoking discussion. though written over 30 years ago, still very relevant to today. both authors are engaging and I really enjoyed their dialogue.
Spencer Diver
Jun 08, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
A lot of great insights and perspectives but the format is a little hard to follow.
Sep 03, 2021 rated it did not like it
Hillman at one point posits that maybe women don't leave their abusive husbands because "Maybe I enjoy being beaten." Jungians are trash. ...more
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James Hillman was an American psychologist. He served in the US Navy Hospital Corps from 1944 to 1946, after which he attended the Sorbonne in Paris, studying English Literature, and Trinity College, Dublin, graduating with a degree in mental and moral science in 1950.
In 1959, he received his PhD from the University of Zurich, as well as his analyst's diploma from the C.G. Jung Institute and foun

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“Of course, a culture as manically and massively materialistic as ours creates materialistic behavior in its people, especially in those people who've been subjected to nothing but the destruction of imagination that this culture calls education, the destruction of autonomy it calls work, and the destruction of activity it calls entertainment.” 47 likes
“Marie-Louise von Franz says that Western civilization has put a little gnomish man on the shoulder of every woman and that this gnome does nothing but tell the woman that she’s wrong, wrong, wrong. Thus a kind of artificial, oppressive Watcher has been installed. When I mention this image to women (especially writer women) they enthusiastically agree with von Franz: that’s their experience, an almost literal voice buzzing in their ear saying, “No, no, your work’s no good, it’s worthless, you’re wrong.” In von Franz’s construct (though she’d use different terms), women have to learn to ignore that gnome and recognize their real Watcher, whom civilization did not put there and whom civilization cannot take away.” 2 likes
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