Pragmatism, Psychoanalysis, and Prejudice: Elisabeth Young-Bruehl's The Anatomy of Prejudices

Shannon Sullivan
2001 Journal of Speculative Philosophy  
18.95 pbk. 0-674-03191-1. The word "prejudices" in the title of this richly provocative book concisely captures its main claim: that prejudices (in the plural), such as sexism, racism, and anti-Semitism, are not the same thing. Young-Bruehl does not deny that they have commonalities (1996, 4), but she argues that they have been misunderstood by the majority of sociologists, anthropologists, psychologists, and others who have assumed that prejudices can be unified into a single, root form of
more » ... e, root form of prejudice. This misunderstanding has prevented people from seeing how different prejudices fulfill different psychosocial desires and needs. This, in turn, has hindered attempts to eliminate prejudice, which require something other than a one-size-fits-all approach to be effective. As Young-Bruehl explains, "[a]ppreciating the differences allows the diagnoses-the differential diagnoses-without which there can be no cures" (5). The Anatomy of Prejudices is divided into three parts. The first part, "A Critique of Pure Overgeneralization," provides a history of the treatment of prejudices in the social sciences in the United States, chiefly sociology and social psychology. The second part, "Starting Again:
doi:10.1353/jsp.2001.0025 fatcat:gg2qxokctfgpdgbfw7we43f67y