At one time or another, we’ve all wondered if the Western world has lost its direction. For much of the past 100 years—and even more so since the 2008 financial crisis—the West has been riddled with self-doubt and at times, it would seem, even self-loathing.
Whether it is guilt over the past sins of colonialism and slavery, the rise of upstart economic powerhouses like China and India, or changing demographics within our borders, the West seems to have lost its mojo and a sense of its place in the world.
Enter Dr. Nicholas Beecroft. In his latest book, Analyze West: A Psychiatrist Takes Western Civilization on a Journey of Transformation, Dr. Beecroft sits Western Civilization on the psychiatrist’s couch. “Mr. West,” the embodiment of Western Civilization, is a mildly overweight, middle-aged man suffering from panic attacks and what appears to be multiple personality disorder. What follows as Mr. West opens himself to the psychiatrist is an entertaining and introspective examination of Western culture circa 2014.
What I found most interesting is that Beecroft—himself a respected psychiatrist—approaches the work with no obvious political or ideological agenda. He is neither conservative nor liberal and neither traditional nor modern. He’s a detached professional attempting to make sense of the competing and contradictory attitudes that define the contemporary West. He wants the West to be comfortable in its own skin.
Analyze West is a little hard to describe. It’s nominally a novel, and it incorporates a love story and a rogue doctor’s struggle against a politicized and stiflingly bureaucratic medical establishment. But it is first and foremost an exploration of contemporary (and contradictory) Western views on everything from sex to geopolitics.
As the protagonist helps West to get back on his feet, he gives his patient an exhaustive diagnosis:
You’re fit and healthy though there’s plenty of room for improvement… Economically you’re depressed. The seeds of the solutions are there if you choose to grow them. When I first met you, you had low self-esteem, low self -confidence and strong suicidal impulses. You were unconscious of your many different parts which were stuck in conflict and draining your energy. To thrive you need to draw together the best of all the parts.
Analyze West is a thoughtful book, and I woud recommend it for anyone with an interest in history, government, geopolitics and economics–and where they all intersect.
Charles Lewis Sizemore, CFA, is the editor of Macro Trend Investor and chief investment officer of the investment firm Sizemore Capital Management. Click here to receive his FREE weekly e-letter covering top market insights, trends, and the best stocks and ETFs to profit from today’s best global value plays.