Contemporary emotional problems are far different from those that Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis, tried to untangle more than a half-century ago. The original concern of Freud and his followers was, of course, the alleviation of suffering from clear-cut neurotic symptoms like hysteria, obsessions and compulsions, whose source was childhood conflict, now repressed.
Here is a thumbnail sketch of how this country's psychological emphases have changed in the decades since:
Post-World War II America and into the '50s--The symptoms of Freud's time diminishing. Patients seeking help in understanding how their conflicts interfere with their social adjustment. Dealing with anger, guilt, inhibition and need for approval in relationships. Don't want to be too different from others, although there are some conflicts over conformity.
The 1960s and early '70s--In the context of social and political ferment, many people trying to liberate themselves from "oppressive" relationships, social conventions and institutions. The unfortunate result: many ruined lives, broken marriages, chic radicalism and ultimate bitterness over the fruits of "liberated" attitudes.
Later 1970s--A centering of problems around a growing desire for personal success and successful, winning strategies. The desire for immediate action, help in becoming a winner before losing out. Reflected in the mass of "how-to" books.
The 1980s--Many successful careerists feeling the costs and limits of success. Wanting to keep successful careers, they also want more fun and pleasure both in and out of work, more personal fulfillment and balance. The result: serious emotional and values conflicts over compromises and tradeoffs.