Age of Guilt: The Super-Ego in the Online World

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Age of Guilt: The Super-Ego in the Online World
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How Freud's concept of the super-ego can help us to understand the harsh cultural climate of the digital age

Cancellation, scapegoating, raving on Twitter. How did the Internet, which began as a place for open thought and exchange, become a forum for cruelty and judgment? Can a whole culture become mentally ill? How do we understand and respond to this problem?

Mark Edmundson views contemporary culture and discourse through Freud's concept of the super-ego, the moralistic and frequently irrational inner judge. The poet William Blake was attuned to this "dark pressure of self-condemnation," and Nietzsche knew its power as well. One way to mitigate (temporarily) the self-judgment of the super-ego is to aim it outward instead, judging and even punishing others for supposed infractions. Naturally these targets fight back, resulting in a cascade of bitterness and even hatred. Edmundson traces the destructive passion of the super-ego on politics, race, gender, class, education, and more, drawing on psychological studies, classroom experience, and the work of Adam Phillips and Slavoj Zizek. Edmundson proposes ways to manage the super-ego and even to transform it into an affirmative power.

In The Age of Guilt, Edmundson recovers the promise of Freudian theory as he explores our unique social moment with psychological insight, humanity, and erudition.

ISBN: 
9780300265811
Author: 
Publisher: 
Binding: 
Hardcover
Publication Date: 
April 25, 2023