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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

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  435 ratings  ·  42 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: jungian, psychology
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
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.
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. ...more
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.
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!
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.
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.
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
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
Apr 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A truthful conversation about psychotherapy , philosophy, changes in society and the inner child. We are not as fragile as some say, claims the author. His other idea also seems radical (I haven't read it anywhere else, yet). That things do seem to go from bad to worse but it's not the apocalypse as it is portrayed in the bible, everything coming down in flames and disease, just the end of an era. The author compared it with the end of an empire (I believe he said the Roman Empire but I can't be ...more
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.
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.
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.
Just two old fuckers babbling and throwing around terms they've picked up like magpies and whining about therapy.
Dan Huet
May 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
"If therapy imagines its task to be that of helping people cope (and not protest), to adapt (and not rebel), to normalize their oddity, and to accept themselves 'and work within your situation; make it work for you' (rather than refuse the unacceptable), then therapy is collaborating with what the state wants: docile plebes."
Garret Vreeland
Dec 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A surpassingly excellent book about the problems with modern psychotherapy. Still as compelling a read now, as when it was published. Starts fast and hard, begins to slow a bit as the book progresses. The format predates weblogs or comment forums, yet the format of the book will seem familiar now: James Hillman and Michael Ventura trade thoughts back and forth at the speed of ... paper ... and telephone wire ... and it still comes across as blazingly fast, blindingly brilliant. A mercurial, clai ...more
Alan Conrad
Feb 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is not just a strong critique of psychotherapy/psychology - it's an assault on all our unjustified beliefs and prejudices. Ventura isn't just a sounding board for Hillman's usual challenging ideas - he is a self-made psychologist in his own right. If you want to think seriously about why we and the social world we live in are the way they are, this book is essential reading.

Hillman was at his best when he was in conversation, so it was no surprise to find this ongoing talk with Ventura to b
Jun 03, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Those out of the box, and those who need to remove themselves from their boxes.
I should just add everything this guy's ever written to my "to read" list. I'm just finishing up a Psychiatric nursing course, which has reminded me just how far medicine is from curing the soul (for lack of a better word). This book, on the other hand, is just about there...or at least searching, in earnest, for answers.
Feb 16, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: politics, psychology
A great debate book between two intellectual heavy-weights who both desire to take psychology to the next level - and who also realizes the inherent danger of the self-indulgence that can arise out of going to therapy/analysis
One of my favorite books
Mar 03, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: anyone who has gone to therapy
Recommended to Elizabeth by: Hillman is mentioned in Thomas Moore's books
I keep this book in my pack for emergency reading.
Jun 03, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A must read!!!!!! Such good thoughts - Kate and I have talked about this book but I want to read more by this guy :)
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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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