The history of modernity is littered with references to an unprecedented existential sickness and the modern age has been blamed repeatedly for widespread alienation, anomie, deracination, disenfranchisement and nihilism. But even after centuries of complaint about these problems, the connections between them lack systematic and satisfactory elucidation. Modernity, Nihilism and Mental Health addresses this lacuna by arguing that nihilism, which is construed as the absence of existential purpose and conviction, is at the heart of the contemporary Western crisis. Drawing on work in psychology and counselling studies, sociology, anthropology, history, philosophy and other fields, Sarraf and Feltham offer a rich interdisciplinary explanation of the nihilistic tendency of modernity. Aiming to understand nihilism as a psychosocial phenomenon, not a philosophical problem, the book fills a serious lacuna in the extant literature. While eschewing moralising answers, it provides sustained confrontation with critically important, but largely unexplored, questions of the age.
Modernity, Nihilism and Mental Health will be of interest to anyone seeking to understand the sociocultural crisis of the Western world. In particular, it should be of great interest to academics, researchers and postgraduates in the fields of psychology, sociology, critical theory and the social sciences more generally. It should also be essential reading for psychologists and counsellors, sociologists, anthropologists and moral and political philosophers.
Introduction 1. The Many Nihilisms 2. Life and Identity in Premodernity 3. Modern Identity I: Capitalism and Individualisation 4. Modern Identity II: The Perspective of Strangers and Moral-Religious Transformation 5. Depressogenesis, Alienation and Nihilism: Part I 6. Depressogenesis, Alienation and Nihilism: Part II 7. Sacred Rupture; Promethean Dreams 8. Assessing Modernity