Human Potential and Sixties Culture

January 11th, 2013

We talk a great deal, in the political context, of still fighting the culture wars of the ‘60s. Yet in that discussion we sometimes miss the larger points of what changed in that period. It wasn’t just politics, and war and drugs and race. It was a fundamental change in how we view ourselves as individuals and our place in the world.

The human potential movement, born in the early 60’s, sought to address how we see ourselves, and how we could be more empowered as individuals. This was very different than the Organization Man that grew out of WWII. We see the flowerings of this in some of the individual stirring in Mad Men.

Jessica Grogan takes a look at the whole history of this movement in Encountering America: Humanistic Psychology, Sixties Culture, and the Shaping of the Modern Self. My conversation with Jessica Grogan: