Press

Surge of Piety: Norman Vincent Peale and the Remaking of American Religious Life (November 2016)

“Lane tells the story of Peale’s rise and fall crisply and without malice, even when Peale is at his more-huckster-than-minister gauchest.”—Ray Olson, Booklist

“Lane traces Peale’s connections to corporate and conservative elites, including FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, to show how the minister brought a mood of conservative piety to the nation … enthralling reading … Lane’s writing is graceful and well-paced … [His] book will surely be requisite reading for historians who strive to give us a fuller perspective on the career and impact of this unusual American religionist.”—Mitch Horowitz, Washington Post

Surge of Piety contains some impressive archival research on Peale’s relationship with Blanton, and on Blanton’s relationship with Sigmund Freud.”—Barton Swaim, Wall Street Journal 

“Lane studies how Peale developed a popular theology that fused American business-speak with Christianity, psychoanalysis, and political conservatism, with considerable long-term success…. Thanks to … Surge of Piety, we have a little perspective on what Peale’s philosophy meant for America, and, by extension, for Trump.”—Sam Buntz, Washington Monthly 

“Lane focuses on Peale’s interest in melding positive Christianity with psychiatry—what Peale called ‘religio-psychiatry.’ In 1937 Peale, with the help of the Freud-trained and appropriately named psychiatrist Smiley Blanton, founded a clinic in New York City under the banner of the American Foundation of Religion and Psychiatry. They treated tens of thousands of patients over the next three decades while developing their new system of thought…. Now that one of Peale’s disciples sits in the Oval Office, there couldn’t be a better time for the publication of Christopher Lane’s Surge of Piety: Norman Vincent Peale and the Remaking of American Religious Life.—Paul Matzko, The Gospel Coalition 

“A fascinating and accessible reassessment of a pivotal political moment, and the enduring fusion of popular religion and psychology in American life.”—Darren Dochuk, University of Notre Dame

“Lane has done impressive archival research on Peale…. [T]he book is thoughtful and makes for interesting reading.”—M. A. Granquist, CHOICE

“In Surge of Piety, Christopher Lane ably shows the ways in which Norman Vincent Peale’s potent combination of Protestant Christianity, popular psychiatry and nationalist politics helped remake America.”—Kevin M. Kruse, author of One Nation Under God: How Corporate America Invented Christian America

“Carefully examining everything from Freudian psychology to traditional revivalism, Lane masterfully shows why we cannot make sense of the tremendous mid-century upsurge in American religiosity without understanding the inimitable Peale.”—Matthew Avery Sutton, author of American Apocalypse: A History of Modern Evangelicalism

The Age of Doubt: Tracing the Roots of Our Religious Uncertainty (2011)

“Lane has hit upon something interesting. While many people believe that human history is the story of 2,000 years of blanket Christianity followed by a recent emergence of atheism, the book stresses the very important fact that theological and philosophical squabbles over these subjects are nothing new (and indeed, far more fierce than some of our debates today)… The Age of Doubt is a call for others to examine this material.—Christopher Holden, PopMatters

“As Christopher Lane argue[s] in The Age of Doubt, the explosion of questioning among Christian thinkers in the Victorian era transformed the idea of doubt from a sin or lapse to necessary exploration.”—Julia Baird, New York Times

“The charm of The Age of Doubt is that it returns us to Victorian England, when the absence of God was a new idea—a new idea, at any rate, to a number of intelligent people raised in the Anglican Church who would happily have continued subscribing to their realm’s official faith if science hadn’t lately posed so many inconvenient contradictions.”—Michael Miner, The Chicago Reader

“The story of Victorian doubt is both fascinating and important for understanding why we continue to be mired in fierce cultural battles over the status of evolution and the value of religious faith. This provocative book is well worth the read.”—Bernard Lightman, York University

“A welcome and timely entry into the discussion … The Age of Doubt is important reading for all who want to better understand the way our culture has unfolded while uncovering the roots of our religious skepticism. Lane creates a very readable volume in which these struggles of faith and doubt come to life … compelling reading.”—Bryan Berghoef, Englewood Review of Books

“Lane asks the right questions of the doubting pundits, past and present. Easy to read and render[ing] complicated ideas accessible, [his book] is an altogether admirable study—and ends with an amusing tour of the intellectual trivialities at American Creationist ‘museums.’”—Edward Norman, Literary Review

“Elegantly written … an erudite and highly readable contribution to the complex world of nineteenth-century belief.”—Mark Knight, Victorian Studies

“A well-written work, stylistically speaking: very clear and honest. The argument is well structured and … never loses its thread for a moment. The hardcover is beautifully published,… providing a feast for the eye and the mind. Highly recommended, without hesitation.”—Karel D’huyvetters, Kroniek

“Lane’s stimulating analysis asks whether acknowledging how science, religion, and society have produced a growing chasm between faith and doubt, and even destroyed belief, can offer a way forward.”—Keith Thomson, author of Before Darwin and The Young Charles Darwin

Shyness: How Normal Behavior Became a Sickness (2007)

“[A] fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the making of the bible of modern psychiatry [that] explains how a once-ordinary affliction became a profitable disease.”—Michael Agger, Mother Jones

“This is not only an important account of the creation of a modern disease and its treatment, it is an explosive indictment of a system that is too simply materialist in both philosophy and behavior.”—Harold J. Cook, Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine at UCL

“A marvelous book: disturbing and perturbing, a book that will be widely talked about and debated. It is extraordinarily well written, balanced, witty, and engrossing. Bravo!”—Arthur Kleinman, Esther and Sidney Rabb Professor and Chair of Anthropology, Professor of Medical Anthropology, and Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard University

“In Shyness, Christopher Lane outlines an apparatus that is one of the most powerful cultural forces in the world today. In pulling back the drapes and revealing the bumbling and hamfistedness of the new engineers of human souls, Chris Lane might help restore sanity to Oz.”—David Healy, M.D., author of Let Them Eat Prozac and The Antidepressant Era

“Written with Chris Lane’s brand of verve and scholarship, Shyness is a riveting book about how certain so-called illnesses are complex cultural artifacts and certain so-called doctors are casting spells called diagnoses. A smart and bracing book about shyness—not to mention a shrewd and subtle book about psychiatric classification—is long overdue; after reading Shyness it is clear that only Lane could have written it.”—Adam Phillips, psychoanalyst, author of Side-Effects

“Lane finds a trove of troubling (and previously unpublished) material in the APA archive and in drug company memorandums, laying bare the APA’s internal politics and showing the growing influence of drug companies on psychiatry practice. Similarly alarming are Lane’s dissections of big pharma’s marketing of anti-depressants and description of how information about side-effects and withdrawal symptoms associated with popular prescription drugs such as Prozac and Paxil were withheld from the public. This controversial and well-documented book will spark its share of debates.”Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“[An] excellent new book…. Shyness is a welcome contribution to psychiatric discourse.”—Juliet Lapidos, New York Observer

“Having gained access to archival materials from the APA, Lane provides a behind-the-scenes look at the haphazard, unscientific process used to revise The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders…. [A] superb, iconoclastic cultural study…. Highly recommended for university and large public libraries.”Library Journal

“[A] stunning and revelatory book…. For a book that’s about the invention of a medical condition, Shyness is as riveting as a detective story. Lane writes elegantly and passionately about the need to maintain our consciousness about the maddeningly rich complexity of human emotion and thought.”—Yasmin Nair, Windy City Times

“This well-written book is a thoughtful examination of shyness and its relation to psychopathology…. I very much enjoyed reading Lane’s thought-provoking book, and I would highly recommend it for psychiatry residents, graduate students in clinical psychology, and other mental health professionals in training who are interested in the field of anxiety disorders, and more broadly in psychopathology and general mental health.”—Brian J. Cox, New England Journal of Medicine

“In his brilliant Shyness: How Normal Behaviour Became a Sickness, Christopher Lane painstakingly shows how the category of ‘mental disorder’ has been expanded in recent decades, so that what were once considered normal emotions or everyday foibles—shyness, rebelliousness, aloofness, and so on—have been relabelled as phobias, disorders and syndromes.”—Brendan O’Neill, New Statesman and Society

“An important new book…. The achievement of Shyness is to chart for the first time the events preceding the rise and fall of the SSRIs. Lane has marshalled a cache of unpublished data to explain the academic framework that allowed the rise to happen. [He] tells the complex story with impressive clarity…. Lane has done a valuable job in tracing the roots of the current crisis and he certainly isn’t calling for a reinstatement of Freudianism; what is needed now is another map to indicate a way out.”—Jerome Burne,Times Literary Supplement

“Fascinating … persuasive …, [Shyness] should be read by anyone interested in stopping the rot in the discussion of human emotion and thought.”—Helene Guldberg, Spiked Review of Books

“Overall, Lane’s scholarly account of this saga ensures that if you’re not already concerned about the over-medicalization of our mental lives, you will be.”—Christian Jarrett, BBC Focus

“Christopher Lane’s polemical Shyness features the manipulations that promoted social anxiety disorder to a national emergency.”—Frederick Crews, New York Review of Books

“As Lane’s research reveals, the cost of blaming anxieties on brain chemistry imbalance goes beyond dollars, to drug dependency, debilitating side effects and consumers convinced they’re hamstrung by their physiology.”—Robin Tierney, San Francisco Examiner

“Lane charges that the task force, dominated by neuropsychiatrists, often used bad science or no science at all, that it turned ordinary human emotions into diseases and that it created a climate in which pharmaceutical companies could get rich creating cures for often nonexistent complexes.”—Richard Halicks, Atlanta Journal-Constitution (op-ed)

“Would Henry David Thoreau and Emily Dickinson be given drugs today? In the 1980s a small group of leading psychiatrists revised the profession’s diagnostic manual called the DSM for short, adding social anxiety disorder—aka shyness—and dozens of other new conditions. Christopher Lane … uses previously secret documents, many from the American Psychiatric Association archives, to support his argument that these decisions were marked by carelessness, pervasive influence from the pharmaceutical industry, academic politics, and personal ambition.”Scientific American

“Lane … notes that when psychiatrists diagnose the shy as suffering from social phobia, they mistake a variation in human temperament for a mental disorder; if anything, the diagnosis only adds to the sense of unease felt by shy people. He is also right in observing that the psychiatrists’ Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM), the profession’s standard 900-page reference work, errs by designating other kinds of normal human variation as mental disorders and so exaggerates the incidence of mental illness…. [Shyness] provides vivid portraits of how DSM-III was constructed, over the course of six years.”—Paul McHugh, Wall Street Journal

“A provocative look at an important chapter in the history of modern psychiatry.”—Judith Graham, Chicago Tribune

“Lane’s authority in these matters is considerable since he had access to previously confidential documents for the American Psychiatric Association archives…. Highly recommended. All readers, but especially the general public and healthcare professionals and practitioners.”Choice

“Lane argues in this well-researched … controversial book that shyness [has been] pathologized, to the detriment, especially, of children and teenagers”—Elsa Dixler, New York Times Book Review (Paperback Row)

“Lane’s thorough trawling of the archives of the American Psychiatric Association, his discovery of unpublished internal memos from drug companies, and most especially his accounts of the deliberately obstructive activities of the companies’ marketing teams, make for compelling reading.”—Martin Guha, Journal of Mental Health

“Lane’s book is worth reading because … he does such an admirable job of exposing how the psychiatric profession and the pharmaceutical industry together manage to develop and popularize new ‘mental diseases’ and the accompanying treatments apparently designed to increase profits… It is a solid book and one that is likely to remain current for several years, if not decades, to come.”—Tana Dineen, Journal of Scientific Exploration

“[A] splendid book… Lane gives a compelling description of how shyness—once seen as a normal variation of character or personality—became incorporated into the DSM as social phobia or avoidant personality disorder.”—Simon Wessely, The Lancet

“A detailed and searing account of the cavalier fashion in which the diagnostic and statistical manual (DSM) of mental disorder classification systems was thrown together.”Nursing Standard

“Where this book stands out … is in the data that Lane uses to make his case—evidence confirming once and for all that the emperor really has no clothes. Lane not only manages to gain access to the DSM archives and to previously classified drug company memos—two coups by any measure—but he also interviews key players in the DSM saga, including long-time DSM Task Force Chair Robert Spitzer himself … That Spitzer even agreed to be interviewed by Lane—and with such remarkable openness—left this reader, as a fellow researcher with similar interests, green with envy.”Canadian Journal of Sociology

Hatred and Civility: The Antisocial Life in Victorian England (2004)

“Lane achieves a remarkable recasting of the Victorian age, revealing a pervasive Victorian ‘willingness to let hatred and civility collide in Jekyll-and-Hyde fashion.’… A major contribution to Victorian studies.”Modern Language Review

“Highly recommended.”Choice

“A valuable and engaging book.”Times Literary Supplement

“[This book] contains all of my heroes, and I devoured it with the utmost pleasure.”—Florence King, The Misanthrope’s Corner

“Wonderfully cunning and lucid, Hatred and Civility puts us more closely in touch with the wilder energies of a culture.”—Adam Phillips, author of Promises, Promises

“Most arresting… Lane’s study succeeds in prompting readers to confront a deep, simple, and problematic truth: that it is no small feat to live successfully among people.”Nineteenth-Century Literature

“Mark[s] him out … as the most renowned psychoanalytic critic in his generation of Victorianists.”Victorian Studies

“Like its predecessors [by Lane], Hatred and Civility is thoughtful and well written: erudite on matters of nineteenth-century ethics and psychology and deft in its critical assessments of several familiar Victorian texts. The prose is lucid, occasionally chatty, and always brisk…. Christopher Lane is an enormously thoughtful and effective critic. He is at his very best in Hatred and Civility.”Conradiana

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