“Winningly articulate, enlightening but never patronising, [Adam Phillips] is a born writer…Going Sane is written with elegance and zest.”
“Wise and subtle. Going Sane has some superbly suggestive things to say about childhood, depression, autism and schizophrenia.”
“Erudite and absorbing, oozes intelligence - and charm. [Phillips is] adept at making the complex comprehensible.”
“Beautifully written…clever and funny, and properly profound…A lovely addition to Phillips’ guides to living a happier life.”
“Phillips offers a detailed description of what sanity can mean today.”
“Phillips has made psychoanalytic thought livelier and more poetic than ever… One of [his] finest and most broadly appealing books.”
As surely as vanilla is a flavor, sanity is a property, and this book delineates its parameters with considerable erudition.”
“Challenging and inspiring …Going Sane is an indispensable guide to what wisdom means today.”
“Phillips is, as ever, an original and lucid spirit, a buzzing intellectual gadfly in the ointment of our easy answers.”
“Adam Phillips has written an extraordinarily generous and subtle book...beautiful, unfussily important and emotionally brilliant.”
Like the best of his writing, Going Sane begins with abstract semantics and ends with a specific tale of how we might be better off if we used some basic words in some different ways. With each new book, Phillips has made psychoanalytic thought livelier and more poetic than ever…
The New York Times Book Review
In classic psychoanalytic style, Phillips strips our lives down to the fundamentals to illustrate the delicate balance between sanity and insanity. Sanity, he notes, "has never been a popular word, or indeed... a condition one might write a book about." Madness, on the other hand, is dramatic and all too visible. We have psychiatrists, neurologists and researchers dedicated to studying and treating madness, but not even a quantifiable definition of saneness. Deftly guiding readers through historical and literary uses of "sane" and "mad," Phillips, a British psychoanalyst (On Flirtation), cites Thomas Carlyle, R.D. Laing, Melanie Klein, D.W. Winnicott and Richard Dawkins, among others, to illustrate the stark absence of a definitive definition of sanity. In Hamlet, for instance, Polonius uses the word "madness" to describe Hamlet's inventiveness and eloquent intelligence: he admires Hamlet's madness. Phillips examines the presence and essence of madness in all aspects of modern life in intriguing and disturbingly frank chapters on the chaos of raising children, the turmoil of adolescence, sexual appetites and the pursuit of wealth. His arguments, both thought provoking and provocative, may affect future definitions of sanity and madness, and readers are left with a fresh awareness of what it really means to be sane. Agent, Felicity Rubinstein, U.K. (Oct. 4) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
British psychoanalyst and prolific author Phillips (On Kissing, Tickling and Being Bored: Psychoanalytic Essays of the Unexamined Life) analyzes the concept of sanity in this erudite yet accessible volume. His interdisciplinary research, which relies on imaginative writings (e.g., Shakespeare) and traditional psychological theory, makes clear that a viable definition of sanity is surprisingly elusive. This concept is further developed through his exploration of how madness and "badness" coexist in contemporary society; Freudian issues are raised in the context of sexual and money madness, and modern mental illnesses and disorders (autism, schizophrenia, and depression) are also examined. Phillips concludes with an original blueprint on how a "sane" life might be constructed, including commentaries on sane parenting and dealing with conflict and personal desires. Though stronger on description and analysis than on prescriptive advice, this book is well argued and stunningly thought-provoking. Phillips has tackled a "big idea" in a sophisticated yet spirited way that should appeal to his established audience as well as to general readers new to his work. Recommended for public libraries and interdisciplinary studies collections. [See the Q&A with Phillips on p. 106.]-Antoinette Brinkman, MLS, Evansville, IN Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
A probing exploration of the full meaning of sanity, conducted by British psychoanalyst and prolific author Phillips (Promises, Promises: Essays on Poetry and Psychoanalysis, 2002, etc.). Although sanity is a word "with virtually no scientific credibility," he writes in his preface, "it has become a necessary term." Explaining what it is necessary for is the task Phillips sets for himself in this erudite work. Musing aloud, dipping and diving into literary and psychiatric sources, he investigates his subject from all angles. In part one, he looks at how sanity has been defined and used by writers including Shakespeare, Lamb, Dickens and Orwell; how it has been treated by various psychoanalysts, especially Melanie Klein and her followers; and how it has been largely overlooked in the sciences. Madness, it seems, is a far more alluring subject and has received far more attention. In part two, the author struggles with the elusive nature of sanity by looking at its natural absence in two periods of life, infancy and adolescence, and then by viewing it through the prism of childhood autism, schizophrenia and depression. What these three mental conditions reveal, Phillips contends, is that a sane person is intelligible about his/her wants; lives within some consensus of shared desires, meanings and forms of exchange; and possesses an appropriate self-regard. Rather surprisingly, he ends this section by turning to a discussion of what happens to our ideas about sanity when money plays a role. In part three, Phillips spells out what sanity could usefully be. Distinguishing between the superficially sane and the deeply sane, he describes both what it would be like to be deeply sane and what thatmight involve in terms of doing, feeling and wanting. It is, in essence, a recipe for being a human being. Challenges the reader to reconsider the taken-for-granted notion that sanity is just another word for mental health.