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If you are disturbed by the idea that to grow up is to learn to live with disillusionment, if you are fascinated by the perplexity of child-rearing, or if you fear you were more creative as a child, The Beast in the Nursery offers an illuminating and possibly life-changing experience. In four interrelated essays, Adam Phillips arrives at startling new insights into issues that preoccupied Freud, showing in the process that far from having lost its relevance, psychoanalysis is still one of our most incisive tools for the exploration of the human psyche and its possibilities. Phillips transforms the genre of the essay into an instrument for intellectual investigation of the most absorbing kind.From the Trade Paperback edition.
Adam Phillips has been called "the psychotherapist of the floating world" and "the closest thing we have to a philosopher of happiness." His style is epigrammatic; his intelligence, electric. His new book, Darwin's Worms, uses the biographical details of Darwin's and Freud's lives to examine endings-suffering, mortality, extinction, and death. Both Freud and Darwin were interested in how destruction conserves life. They took their inspiration from fossils or from half-remembered dreams. Each told a story that has altered our perception of our lives. For Darwin, Phillips explains, "the story to tell was how species can drift towards extinction; for Freud, the story was how the individual tended to, and tended towards his own death." In each case, it is a death story that uniquely illuminates the life story.
Being sane has long been defined simply as that bland and nebulous state of not being mentally ill. While writings on madness fill entire libraries, until now no one has thought to engage exclusively with the idea of sanity. In a society governed by indulgence and excess, madness is the state of mind we identify with most keenly. Though ultimately destructive, it is often credited as the wellspring of genius, individuality, and self-expression. Sanity, on the other hand, confounds us. One of the world's most respected psychoanalysts and original thinkers, Adam Phillips redresses this historical imbalance. He strips our lives back to essentials, focusing on how we--as human beings, parents, lovers, as people to whom work matters--can make space for a sane and well-balanced attitude to living. In a world saturated by tales of dysfunction and suffering, he offers a way forward that is as down-to-earth and realistic as it is uplifting and hopeful.
In this uniquely brilliant and insightful book, acclaimed essayist and psychoanalyst Adam Phillips meditates on the notion of escape in our society and in ourselves.No one can escape the desire and need to escape. By analyzing four examples of escape artists--a young girl who hides from others by closing her eyes; a grown man incapable of a relationship; Emily Dickinson, recluse extraordinaire; and Harry Houdini, the quintessential master of escape--Phillips enables readers to identify the escape artists lurking within themselves. Lucid, erudite, and audacious, Houdini's Box is another scintillating and seminal work by one of the world's most dazzlingly original thinkers.From the Trade Paperback edition.
In this sparkling, provocative collection of meditations on coupledom and its discontents, Adam Phillips manages to unsettle one of our most dearly held ideals, that of the monogamous couple, by speculating upon the impulses that most threaten it--boredom, desire, and the tempting idea that erotic fulfillment might lie elsewhere. With 121 brilliant aphorisms, the witty, erudite psychoanalyst who gave us On Kissing, Tickling, and Being Bored distills the urgent questions and knotty paradoxes behind our mating impulse, and reveals the centrality of monogamy to our notions of marriage, family, the self--in fact, to everything that matters. The only truly monogamous relationship is the one we have with ourselves. Every marriage is a blind date that makes you wonder what the alternatives are to a blind date. There's nothing more scandalous than a happy marriage.
As an essayist, Adam Phillips combines the best of two worlds: the mastery of psychotherapy as a practitioner and a theorist-and a reputation as one of the best literary writers around. In this collection of essays, he brings the two gifts to bear upon each other, reaching far beyond the borders of psychoanalytic discourse into art, novels, poetry, and history to speculate on the relative merits of psychoanalysis and literature. In his quirky, epigrammatic style, Phillips shows us how psychoanalysis and literature at their best share the goal of shedding light on human character, the most fascinating of disorders.
Psychoanalysis works by attending to the patient's side effects, "what falls out of his pockets once he starts speaking." Undergoing psychoanalytic therapy is always a leap into the dark-like dedicating our hearts and intellect to a powerful work of literature, it's impossible to know beforehand its ultimate effect and consequences. One must remain open to where the "side effects" will lead. Erudite, eloquent, and enthrallingly observant, Adam Phillips is one of the world's most respected psychoanalysts and a boldly original writer and thinker-and the ideal guide to exploring the provocative connections between psychoanalytic treatment and enduring, transformative literature. His fascinating and thoughtful Side Effects offers a valuable intellectual blueprint for the construction of a life beholden to no ideology other than the fulfillment of personal promise.
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