the wellness syndrome

0745655602Peter Bloom at 3:AM Magazine:

The contemporary age is marked by what appears a definite contradiction. On the one hand, public and social institutions tasked with meeting human needs are struggling under the weight of a continued recession and an economic order that increasingly prioritizes profit at the expense of general welfare. On the other hand, popular discourse and private organizations are progressively emphasizing the centrality of “wellness” for citizens and employees. The Wellness Syndrome by Carl Cederström and André Spicer provides an important and sophisticated critical understanding of this seemingly paradoxical phenomenon. Their book reveals concisely and accessibly—without sacrificing theoretical subtlety—how our current age is marked by a pathological and dangerous fixation with “health” and “wellness,” an obsession that effectively targets individuals with its market-based rhetoric of personal and professional well-being, while strategically masking deeper contradictions of modern neo-liberal capitalism.

Overall, The Wellness Syndrome is a comprehensive but readable account of the rise of this titular “syndrome.” It takes aim simultaneously at the “wellness” industry and at the growing common sense assumptions that are fueling this lucrative trend. It can be found in places as diverse as innovative tech companies like Google to American evangelical congregations. Further, even where it is not being implemented, it remains a tantalizing desire for many twenty-first-century citizens—a dream of “work/life balance” that may be reserved only for the privileged few but can one day also be their own

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