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Dr. Helen

New Book on the “Psychology of Freedom”

November 21st, 2012 - 2:25 pm

Judith Kleinfeld, Professor of Psychology at the University of Alaska at Fairbanks, emailed to tell me about her new book, The Frontier Romance: Environment, Culture, and Alaska Identity. I thought given the theme of the book,  it might be of interest to my readers:

Many scholars focus on the institutions and legal systems important to freedom. The Frontier Romance explores a new dimension— the psychology of freedom. American master narratives, such as the narrative of immigration or of going to the frontier to create a new and better life, creates a psychology that valorizes such virtues as self-reliance, independence, and the courage to start over. “The frontier romance,” create a mindset that enables people to embrace freedom rather than fear it.

Only in America does the word “frontier” mean freedom, open space and opportunity. In every other language, the word “frontier” means the opposite– border, boundary, and fear of the dangers that lurk in in the strange and the new. Many dictionaries define the use of the word “frontier” to connote freedom and opportunity as an “Americanism.” Americans seek out frontiers, not only in geography but in science, the arts, and commerce.

The book sounds fascinating, I look forward to reading it.

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