Dissertation Title:

Doomsday Food: A Cultural History and Hermeneutic Analysis


Jonathan Alvin

Date, Time & Place:

April 1, 2022 at 10:00 am


This study examined the 1080 serving Wise Emergency Survival Food Storage (WESFS). In 2009, the WESFS was marketed as an emergency food product with a 25-year shelf life capable of feeding an individual for a year. To understand the 1080 serving WESFS, this study utilized phenomenology, cultural historical analysis, and hermeneutic theories within philosophy and clinical psychology. The research found that the WESFS is primarily a manifestation of the fears, ideologies, and psychologies of 21st century America, including: the Anthropocene, climate change, neoliberalism, apocalyptic fears, disempowered and distrustful citizens, psychologies that posit isolated selves, and an economy that prioritizes unceasing production and unlimited freedom. In this context, psychotherapy clients face existential fears that cannot be understood through a purely biological, behavioral, cognitive, or empirical framework. The research concluded that psychotherapeutic practice in 21st century America must understand psychological reality as being interrelated and inextricable from cultural and historical context.

  • Program/Track/Year: Clinical Psychology, A, 2016
  • Chair: Dr. Michael Sipiora
  • Reader: Dr. Douglas Thomas
  • External Reader: Dr. Garth Amundson
  • Keywords: Prepper, Survivalist, Apocalypse, Doomsday, Hermeneutics, Anthropocene, Neoliberalism, Psychology