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Averting Global Extinction

Our Irrational Society as Therapy Patient

Louis S. Berger

The extensive literature about averting ecological disasters, nuclear catastrophe, and unsupportable overpopulation typically describes dangers, analyzes their implications, and presses for remedial action. It seems that what is taken as too obvious and well understood to mention, let alone to address seriously, is humanity's failure to give global and human survival top priority. More careful consideration of this irrational, self-destructive sociocultural negligence shows that it is complex, puzzling, and ensconced and perpetuated by pathological societal defenses. This paradox is Averting Global Extinction's subject; Berger argues that if these psychological defenses were reduced, so would be society's indifference to necessary action. The book's clinically informed approach conceptualizes society's self-destructiveness as an analogue to the self-destructive psychopathologies of individuals, identifies society's ubiquitous and destructive psychological defenses (denial, projection, and avoidance) as the chief element in that sociocultural psychopathology, and devises a "sociocultural therapy." This therapy is accomplished by translating a carefully selected individual psychotherapy framework, a subtype of the so-called analysis of defense, into a corresponding societal therapeutic methodology—society becomes the "patient."

This intervention is intended to complement and facilitate, not replace, the usual recommended approaches to rescuing the globe. Thus, three analogies are deployed between individual and societal: pathology, defenses, and psychotherapy. The book's new and valuable principal contributions are the identification of sociocultural psychopathology as the underlying cause of our near indifference to the threat of global extinction; the recognition of societal defenses as key elements in that pathology; the conceptualization of a therapeutic analogue, applicable at the societal level, to counter that indifference; and the construction of an exemplar of that analogue.
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Jason Aronson, Inc.
Pages: 140Size: 6 1/2 x 9 1/2
978-0-7657-0652-2 • Hardback • June 2009 • $68.00 • (£47.95)
978-0-7657-0654-6 • eBook • June 2009 • $64.00 • (£42.95)
Louis S. Berger is a clinical psychologist and a former assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Louisville School of Medicine.
Chapter 1 Preface
Chapter 2 1. Introduction
Chapter 3 2. Individual Psychology and Sociology
Chapter 4 3. The Freud Wars—A Critique
Chapter 5 4. The Framework of Defense Analysis
Chapter 6 5. The Target Framework: Sociocultural Defense Analysis (SDA)
Averting Global Extinction is a brilliant effort to save our species and our world from the consequences of our least mature, least realistic tendencies. As everything that sustains human life hurtles toward disaster, Louis Berger notes that our collective response has been a social pathology of denial, distraction, and wishful fantasy. Although other authors have published similar observations, this book is unique in offering a closely reasoned psychological approach to changing such self-defeating patterns. Berger's erudition encompasses theory and praxis, science and art, the insights of the past and the stunning originality of a new angle of vision. His writing combines the intellect of the philosopher with the wisdom of the experienced therapist. I hope this book is widely read while there is still time to apply that wisdom.
Nancy McWilliams, PhD, Rutgers University Graduate School of Applied & Professional Psychology

Louis Berger has turned his critical mind to the dangers of global destruction and the result is a book that challenges the universal denial of reality. Viewing society as a patient in need of treatment, this discourse on psychoanalytic sociology can be read with profit by a general audience.
Joseph Reppen, PhD, ABPP, former editor of the journals Psychoanalytic Psychology and Psychoanalytic Books