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America on the Couch

Psychological Perspectives on American Politics and Culture

Pythia Peay

What lies behind America’s historic romance with the gun? Why does it have such a troubled relationship with alcohol and drugs? Why is it so wedded to consumerism and so resistant to the evidence of climate change? What are its enduring myths about individuality, freedom, and independence, and how might we re-imagine our vision of the United States as the “Promised Land” and “The City on the Hill” to reflect a multiculturalism that offers “the last, best hope” for the world?

In a two-decades long journey through the American psyche, depth journalist Pythia Peay has asked these and many more questions of no fewer than thirty-six of the world’s leading psychologists and psychoanalysts. From Robert Jay Lifton to Marion Woodman, A. Thomas McLellan to Judith V. Jordan, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi to June Singer, and James Hillman to Mary Pipher, the thinkers in America on the Couch discuss violence, addiction, the environment, capitalism and consumerism, politics and power, and the soul of America. The result is a uniquely comprehensive, wide-ranging, and compelling kaleidoscope of insights into the psychodynamics of a hegemon in peace and at war, as it confronts the shadows of the American century and charts its way into an uncertain, multi-polar future.

Stephen Aizenstat
John Beebe
Bonnie Bright
Gary S. Bobroff
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
Philip Cushman
Larry Decker
Raymond De Young
Edward Edinger
Michael Eigen
Stephen J. Foster
Charles Grob
Bud Harris
A. Chris Heath
James Hillman
Judith V. Jordan
Donald Kalsched
Robert J. Langs
Linda Schierse Leonard
Harriet Lerner
Robert Jay Lifton
A. Thomas McLellan
Thomas Moore
Ginette Paris
Mary Pipher
Ernest Rossi
Andrew Samuels
Erel Shalit
June Singer
Thomas Singer
Lawrence Staples
Murray Stein
Charles B. Strozier
Paul Wachtel
Karen B. Walant
Marion Woodman
Luigi Zoja

“A unique and welcome collection of interviews with leading psychologists over twenty years . . . full of revelations and insights to shape our notions of citizenship.” —Joshua Wolf Shenk, author, Lincoln’s Melancholy and Powers of Two

America on the Couch—at once intimate and expansive—reflects a two-decade commitment to understanding the profoundly complex heart of America. In compiling this volume, Pythia Peay has redefined and deepened the meaning of ‘citizen.’”—Howard G. Lavine, Arleen C. Carlson Professor of Political Science and Psychology, University of Minnesota

America on the Couch will inspire Americans to get off their individual couches and into the more communal streets, enacting, in Peay’s term, a more ‘psychologically conscious citizenship.’”—Jennifer Leigh Selig, author, Integration: The Psychology and Mythology of Martin Luther King, Jr. and His (Unfinished) Therapy with the Soul of America

616 pp.  
7" x 9 1/8"

Lantern Books


Published:  April 2015


Pythia Peay is an author and journalist on psychology, spirituality, and the American psyche. Her work has appeared in numerous magazines and newspapers, including Religion News Service, The Washington Post, and elsewhere. A regular contributor to The Huffington Post and Psychology Today, she has received awards for her work from The American Association of University Women and Women in the Media. She is the author of America on the Couch: Psychological Perspectives on American Politics and Culture (Lantern, 2015) and Soul Sisters: The Five Sacred Qualities of a Woman’s Soul (Tarcher, 2002). See all books by Pythia Peay

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