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TitleWorked Up Selves: Personal Development Workers, Self-Work and Therapeutic Cultures
TagsPersonal Development
File Size1.4 MB
Total Pages267
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 Changing Selves
Chapter 2 History of Working the Self
Chapter 3 Therapeutic Cultures: Practices of Social Control or Self-Creation?
Chapter 4 Cultural Representations of Therapeutic Cultures
Chapter 5 Expert Relations
Chapter 6 Transformations of the Self
Chapter 7 Getting in Touch with Their Feelings?
Chapter 8 Worked Up Selves
Document Text Contents
Page 2

Worked Up Selves

Page 133

somewhat dangerously made. In this model, practitioners use the
client’s will, seen to be buried in the depths of the self under layers
of socialised behaviours, as an instrument of change. For these practi-
tioners, power comes from bending the will of the client in a coercive
way. This is seen to be attractive and dangerous, leading to a lust for
power verging on megalomania. In contrast for Jack, traumatisation
can be a mechanism for achieving equality with clients, because it
reaches the parts that other techniques do not, parts that are needed
to be reached to achieve real transformation.

The road to Damascus

Having looked at the ways practitioners conceptualise equality in their
relations with their clients, and described the ways that equal relations
can turn into abuse and abuse can turn into equal relations, this
section looks at conversion. Conversion was central to practitioners’
understandings of their relations with their clients, and how they pre-
sented their identities. Although Rose (1989, 1996a) and Miller and
Rose (1994) refer to the importance of conversion as a key mechanism
for shaping the self, they do not examine how conversion is seen to
operate, and how conversion relates to the relations between practi-
tioners and clients. See Peter Ackers and Diane Preston (1997) for an
interesting study of conversion in management development practices.
In contrast, anthropological literature on conversion in religion exam-
ines it in close detail, and as a result, shows conversion taking many
forms, undergone in acutely different ways, involving different stages
and caused by a range of practices (Heelas, 1996; Lofland and Skonovd,
1983). Drawing on these general ideas on conversion, this section exam-
ines how conversion was seen by the practitioners as a mechanism for
equality and exchange.

Andy Knight

I begin with a quote from Andy Knight, an NLP practitioner and head of
a management development division in a bank. His view is representative
of several practitioners interviewed in the sense that conversion is viewed
as a means to give to a client. In response to my question on how he
became involved with NLP, Andy explains in the following way:

I did a session with Geoff and Colin, who work for me, on NLP
and its spelling strategies within education. And we invited fifteen,

124 Worked Up Selves

Page 134

twenty teachers and parents along to it, including a couple of sceptical
headmistresses and we did a morning’s work for them… We did this
session and it worked really well and one of the headmistresses rang
me back the following day and said, ‘This NLP stuff, we have just tried
it on the most difficult kid in the school’; and I thought, ‘Oh my god’;
‘…and it works, total breakthrough. When can you come and work
with me?’ I said, ‘I can’t. I told you I wasn’t selling anything. This was
just a bit of community spirited stuff in the community’. So I put her
in touch with one or two people and she is a real convert now, and
this was at a special school for dyslexic children.

In this example, Andy presents his practice in terms of philanthropy.
But his generosity does not mean that he does not present himself as
powerful as shown through his ability to convert. The strength of his
power is demonstrated in the extremes that he has broached – the
most difficult pupil and the most sceptical headmistress. As literature
on conversion shows, conversion has a structure in which a ‘before’ is
contrasted with an ‘after’ (Ackers and Preston, 1997 and Lofland and
Skonovd, 1983).

Before and after

In this case there is a condensation of time between the ‘before’ and
‘after’ as in the archetypal ‘road to Damascus’ experience in the immedi-
acy of both cure and conversion. The ‘after’ is also constituted by a
renunciation of the ‘before’. In this example, the headteacher replaces her
scepticism of NLP with zeal to spread the word. Through the conversion,
Andy is able to bring equality to people through his techniques and yet
still present himself as powerful. Andy’s sharing of techniques is not seen
to depreciate his power, but augment it, in contrast to critics like
de Swaan (1990) who suggest that the appropriation of expertise by
clients, or ‘proto-professionalism’ reduces the authority of the expert.

Passing it on

In a similar example of conversion as a kind of a gift, Jane Vincent, the
growth group facilitator, discusses her ability to convert people to her
growth group:

I have introduced, I don’t know, a couple of hundred people to
it over the years easily, my entire family, my mother, my family, my

Expert Relations 125

Page 266

Sennett, Richard, 7, 39, 178
sensitivity training, 43–4
sentimental workers, 37–8
Sharma, Ursula, 106
Shattuc, Jane, 33, 77, 78
shellshock, 35–6
Silva Mind Control, 44
Simon, Jade (interviewee), 98, 100,

106–7, 113–17, 126–7, 130–1,
135–7, 149, 153, 196

Simonds, Wendy, 79–83, 138
Skeggs, Beverley, 220–1
skills transfer, 115–16
Smith, Sidonie, 143
social control, 36
social repression, 42
social theory, 52–3
socialisation, 42
society, emotionalisation of, 178–9
sociology of therapeutic cultures, 2–3,

50–69, 207
soft capitalism, 10–11, 22
soft relativism, 9
soft skills training, 10–11
special powers, 129
spirituality, 13
Stacey, Jackie, 92, 171–2
Stanley, Liz, 141
Starker, Steven, 32–3
state, use of therapeutic interventions

by, 9
Steinem, Gloria, 76
stoicism, 189
stored emotions, 185
subjectification, 63–4
suffering, 144–5, 146, 154, 194
sunlight metaphor, 131
superficial transformation, 146–7
supernatural, 130–1
Susman, Warren, 35

T groups, 39
Taylor, Charles, 9, 111, 120, 127, 159
tears, 183

of self-transformation, 63
therapeutic, 66–7

television, 3, 77–9, 102
temporality, 161–9, 170–1

textual analysis, 24
textual features, 92
Thedvall, Renita, 20
Thelma and Louise (film), 73
therapeutic bricoleurs, 219–21
therapeutic cultures, 50–69

critics of, 7
cultural representations of, 70–99
disciplined self and, 62
emotions and, 173–205
emotions in the, 215–17
Giddens on, 50–5
monolithic, 8–9
Nolan on, 56–62
participation in, 79–83
politics of, 37–8, 56–7, 72, 84–5
proliferation of, 4
receptions of, 69
reflexive self and, 50–1
research approach to, 86–99
Rose on, 62–9
selves of, 211–13
sociology of, 2–3, 6–7, 50–69,

workplace and, 83

therapeutic ethos, 3, 56–7, 60–1
characteristics of, 57–9
Rose on, 63

therapeutic expertise, see expertise
therapeutic ideas, influence of, 4
therapeutic lexicon, 72
therapeutic power, 102–3
therapeutic practices

blurring of types of, 7
diversity of, 14
expansion of, 3–4
history of, 32–49
proliferation of, 3
in workplace, 47–8

therapeutic state, 3, 55–7, 61
therapeutic technologies, 66–7
therapeutic workers, see personal

development workers
therapeutocracy, 3
therapist-client relations, 40, 73–4

see also power relations;
practitioner-client relations

therapists, 2
influence of, 8–9

Index 257

Page 267

as consolation, 71–2
as emotion work, 176
family, 72–3
group, 38–9
normalising of, 35–6
power relations in, 62
television, 77–9
transactional, 41
for the well, 3–4

Thompson, Paul, 18
Thompson, Sally (interviewee), 98,

132, 140, 159–60, 191–2
timelines, 209–10
Tomkins, Silvan, 173
toolkits, 219–21
touristic identities, 143
training groups, 39
training industry, 23–4
transactional therapy, 41
Transcendental Meditation, 44
transformation, 209–10

experimentation as, 153, 155
low-key, 150
makeover model of, 141–2, 151–2,

154, 171
model of self and, 155–60
models of, 143–55
quick-fix model of, 150–1, 154–5, 171
suffering model of, 145–6, 154
superficial, 146–7
temporality and, 161–9, 170–1

authentic, 143–55
conceptualisations of, 140–72
techniques, 142–3

Turner, Ralph, 120–1
Turner, Violette (interviewee), 99,

112–13, 147–8, 152, 158, 167,
186, 197

twelve-step movement, 3, 47

Ulysses, 148
unconscious, 34, 40, 148
uniqueness, 159
utilitarian expressivism, 60–1

verbal articulation, of emotions,

victimhood, 58
Vincent, Jane (interviewee), 98–9,

121, 125–8, 137, 151–2,
155–8, 180–2, 189–90,

violence, 120–3
vulnerability, 192–3, 203

Wallis, Roy, 12, 42
Watson, Julia, 143
we feeling, 38
Weber, Max, 129–30, 215
White, Mimi, 77–9
whole person, 44–5
Williams, Simon, 176
willpower, 34
Wilson, David, 19
Woman in Your Own Right, A

(Dobson), 107
Women Who Love Too Much

(Norwood), 47, 73–4
Women’s Lives (Llewelyn and

Osborne), 76
workers, sentimental, 37–8
work-life, 65–6
workplace, 3, 68

emotions in the, 37–8
personal development in, 2, 12,

therapeutic cultures and, 83
therapeutic practices in, 47–8

workplace trainers, 5

Zaretsky, Eli, 36, 37

258 Index

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