D.W. Winnicott's remarkable books, including The Piggle, Home Is Where We Start From and The Child, Family and the Outside World (all published by Penguin) are still read, valued and argued with over thirty years after his death. Adam Phillips's short book, now issued with a new preface, is an elegant, thoughtful attempt to get to grips with a writer, paediatrician and psychiatrist whose work with children and mothers (and the wider implications their relationship has for all of us) continues to be profoundly relevant and fascinating.
All of us lead two parallel lives: the life we actually live and the one that we wish for and fantasise about. And this life unlived (the one that never actually happens, the one we might be living but for some reason are not) can occupy an extraordinary part of our mental life. We share our lives, in a sense, with the people we have failed to be - and this can become itself the story of our lives: an elegy to needs unmet, desires sacrificed and roads untaken.
In this elegant, compassionate and absorbing book, acclaimed psychoanalyst Adam Phillips demonstrates that there might in fact be much to be said for the unlived life. Drawing deeply on the works of Shakespeare and of Freud, amongst other writers and thinkers, he suggests that in missing out on one experience we always open ourselves to the potential of another, and that in depriving ourselves of the frustration of not getting what we think we want, we would be depriving ourselves of the possibilities of satisfaction.
Side effects are things we do not intend. And, in this collection of essays, Adam Phillips examines how the things we don't mean, or mean perhaps to forget, prove to be those that are often most telling about our unconscious lives. Phillips also intends for us to question our conscious pursuit of happiness, explaining that, in refusing to admit and explore life's down sides, we can only be living half lives. And through his unique and incisive exploration of literature, Phillips also demonstrates what the great novelists have to tell us about ourselves. Both illuminating and fascinating on literature as well as life, Side Effects maps our edges as human beings, and, in doing so, goes some way to helping give shape to our lives.
In this absorbing and provocative new book from one of Britain's most elegant and original prose stylists, psychoanalyst Adam Phillips addresses a variety of urgent concerns - many centred around the idea of balance.
When might we know that enough is enough? Does the road of excess ever lead to the palace of wisdom? What is the role of the parent, the teacher and of psychoanalysis itself in the development of children's minds? Should we be happy, or is there something better we can be? And what can we learn from the tales of Jack and the Beanstalk or Cinderella?
With his trademark combination of open-minded enquiry and exhilarating argument, drawing primarily on the twin worlds of literature and psychoanalysis, Adam Phillips will delight readers old and new in this much anticipated new book.
Unforbidden Pleasures is the dazzling new book from Adam Phillips, author of Missing Out and Going SaneAdam Phillips takes Oscar Wilde as a springboard for a deep dive into the meanings and importance of the Unforbidden, from the fall of our 'first parents' Adam and Eve to the work of the great twentieth-century psychoanalytic thinkers.Unforbidden pleasures, he argues, are always the ones we tend not to think about, yet when you look into it, it is probable that we get as much pleasure, if not more, from them. And we may have underestimated just how restricted our restrictiveness, in thrall to the forbidden and its rules, may make us.Adam Phillips' latest ambitious project explores the philosophical, psychological and social complexities that govern human desire and shape our reality. Praise for Adam Phillips:'Britain's foremost psychoanalytic writer' The New Yorker'Phillips is one of the finest prose stylists in the language, an Emerson for our time' - John Banville 'Every mind-blowing book from Adam Phillips suspends all the certainties we are most attached to and somehow makes this feel exhilarating' - Deborah Levy 'Phillips radiates infectious charm. The brew of gaiety, compassion, exuberance and idealism is heady and disarming' - Sunday Times 'The best psychotherapist in Britain and one of our greatest contemporary psychoanalytic thinkers' New Statesman'Brilliantly amusing and often profoundly unsettling... [he is] the Martin Amis of British psychoanalysis' The Times
For Adam Phillips - as for Freud and many of his followers - poetry and poets have always held an essential place, as both precursors and unofficial collaborators in the psychoanalytic project. But the same has never held true in reverse. What, Phillips wonders, at the start of this deeply engaging book, has psychoanalysis meant for writers? And what can writing do for psychoanalysis?Phillips explores these questions through an exhilarating series of encounters with - and vivid readings of - writers he has loved, from Byron and Barthes to Shakespeare and Sebald. And in the process he demonstrates, through his own unique style, how literature and psychoanalysis can speak to and of each other.
The pleasures of kindness have been well known since the dawn of western thought. Kindness, declared Marcus Aurelius, was mankind's 'greatest delight' - and centuries-worth of thinkers and writers have echoed him. But today many people seem to find these pleasures literally incredible. Instead of embracing the benefits of altruism, as a species we seem to be becoming deeply and fundamentally antagonistic to each other, with motives that are generally self-seeking. This book explains how and why this has come about, and argues that the affectionate life - a life lived in instinctive sympathetic identification with the vulnerabilities and attractions of others - is the one we should all be inclined to live.
'We mutually belong to one another,' as the philosopher Alan Ryan writes, and the good life is one 'that reflects this truth'. What the Victorians called 'open-heartedness' and the Christians 'caritas' remains essential to our emotional and mental health, for reasons both obvious and hidden, argue the authors of this elegant and indispensable exploration of the concept of kindness.
'Retiring in 1975, Fred Daly liked to tell the story of the new Member who sat next to him in the House. Turning to Fred, he said, 'I like to sit here and look across at the enemy.' 'Son,' said Fred, 'you are looking at the Opposition. The enemy is behind you.'' Phillip Adams has been close to governments of various persuasions for over fifty years. Having been a confidant - or a fierce opponent - of many of Australia's most influential figures over that time, he has built up an unparalleled collection of anecdotes about our political and cultural leaders.
Backstage Politics is also something of a personal memoir, tracing Adams' life in politics, media and the arts over the years. To make the collection complete, he even invited the pollies themselves to submit their stories, the most enthusiastic respondent - not surprisingly - being Senator Barnaby Joyce.
The biggest characters of public life emerge afresh in these pages. From Menzies to Rudd - via Gorton, Whitlam, Fraser, Hawke, Keating, Hanson, Howard et al. - Backstage Politics takes us on a funny, insightful and revealing journey through the Australian political landscape.
WITH ILLUSTRATIONS BY BRUCE PETTY