On Kissing, Tickling, and Being Bored: Psychoanalytic Essays on the Unexamined Life

Overview

In a style that is writerly and audacious, Adam Phillips takes up a variety of seemingly ordinary subjects underinvestigated by psychoanalysis--kissing, worrying, risk, solitude, composure, even farting as it relates to worrying.

He argues that psychoanalysis began as a virtuoso improvisation within the science of medicine, but that virtuosity has given way to the dream of science that only the examined life is worth living. Phillips goes on to show how the drive to omniscience ...

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Overview

In a style that is writerly and audacious, Adam Phillips takes up a variety of seemingly ordinary subjects underinvestigated by psychoanalysis--kissing, worrying, risk, solitude, composure, even farting as it relates to worrying.

He argues that psychoanalysis began as a virtuoso improvisation within the science of medicine, but that virtuosity has given way to the dream of science that only the examined life is worth living. Phillips goes on to show how the drive to omniscience has been unfortunate both for psychoanalysis and for life. He reveals how much one's psychic health depends on establishing a realm of life that successfully resists examination.

Psychotherapist Adam Phillips focuses on a variety of subjects rarely investigated by psychoanalysis--such things as kissing, worrying, risk, and solitude. Phillips rejects the common notion that only the examined life is worth living, asserting that one's psychic health depends on establishing a realm of life that successfully resists interpretation.

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Editorial Reviews

Boston Sunday Globe

Adam Phillips...writes about magnificently light subjects (kissing, tickling and, best of all, worrying) with a great deal of insight...He writes with farsighted equanimity about everything from solitude to spiders. In this regard, he's a bit like an Oliver Sacks of psychoanalysis, both affable and unalarmed.
— Gail Caldwell

Raritan

A childlike freshness of vision informs these essays, which are at once compact, sophisticated, sharply knowing, yet almost provocatively casual, relaxed, amusing...[Phillips] is strikingly original and suggestive as a wry observer of psychoanalysis...[A] telling, engaging, brilliantly amusing and unsettling book.
— Robert Coles

Esquire

In three superb books, On Kissing, Tickling, and Being Bored; On Flirtation; and Terrors and Experts...[Phillips] has endorsed pleasure as a laudable goal (imagine!) and enshrined narrative as a form of soul making. In the process, he's punched lovely skylights into the gloomy Freudian edifice and in general done much to rehabilitate the psychoanalytic enterprise by honoring the idiosyncrasy of human experience and by wielding method lightly, playfully, humanely.
— Will Blythe

Guardian

Like Chekhov, Phillips writes as well as he doctors, and his fascination with the subtleties of human behavior makes him a good storyteller...He has a welcome openness to the essential strangeness of every person; this alone is reason enough to read him.
— Jane Mendelsohn

Irish Times

These are extremely insightful psychoanalytic essays on things like worry and solitude, which are of much more concern to me than issues like wanting to sleep with your closest relatives
— Anne Enright

Boston Sunday Globe - Gail Caldwell
Adam Phillips...writes about magnificently light subjects (kissing, tickling and, best of all, worrying) with a great deal of insight...He writes with farsighted equanimity about everything from solitude to spiders. In this regard, he's a bit like an Oliver Sacks of psychoanalysis, both affable and unalarmed.
Raritan - Robert Coles
A childlike freshness of vision informs these essays, which are at once compact, sophisticated, sharply knowing, yet almost provocatively casual, relaxed, amusing...[Phillips] is strikingly original and suggestive as a wry observer of psychoanalysis...[A] telling, engaging, brilliantly amusing and unsettling book.
Esquire - Will Blythe
In three superb books, On Kissing, Tickling, and Being Bored; On Flirtation; and Terrors and Experts...[Phillips] has endorsed pleasure as a laudable goal (imagine!) and enshrined narrative as a form of soul making. In the process, he's punched lovely skylights into the gloomy Freudian edifice and in general done much to rehabilitate the psychoanalytic enterprise by honoring the idiosyncrasy of human experience and by wielding method lightly, playfully, humanely.
Guardian - Jane Mendelsohn
Like Chekhov, Phillips writes as well as he doctors, and his fascination with the subtleties of human behavior makes him a good storyteller...He has a welcome openness to the essential strangeness of every person; this alone is reason enough to read him.
Irish Times - Anne Enright
These are extremely insightful psychoanalytic essays on things like worry and solitude, which are of much more concern to me than issues like wanting to sleep with your closest relatives
Booknews
A set of fascinating meditations on underinvestigated themes in psychoanalysis--e.g., kissing, worrying, risk, solitude, and composure. Most of the essays have been previously published. Accessible to a general audience. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674634633
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 7/28/1998
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 160
  • Sales rank: 767,142
  • Product dimensions: 6.01 (w) x 8.97 (h) x 0.53 (d)

Meet the Author

Adam Phillips is Principal Child Psychotherapist in the Wolverton Gardens Child and Family Consultation Centre, London.
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Table of Contents

Introduction

1. On Tickling

2. First Hates: Phobias in Theory

3. On Risk and Solitude

4. On Composure

5. Worrying and Its Discontents

6. Returning the Dream: In Memoriam Masud Khan

7. On Being Bored

8. Looking at Obstacles

9. Plotting for Kisses

10. Playing Mothers: Between Pedagogy and Transference

11. Psychoanalysis and Idolatry

Notes

Credits

Index

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