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On Balance Paperback – Nov 22 2011

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; Reprint edition (Nov. 22 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312610742
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312610746
  • Product Dimensions: 13.9 x 2.4 x 20.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 295 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #405,940 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

Review

“A refreshing, invigorating experience…Adam Phillips is one of the richest and most rewarding essayists of our time.” ―Los Angeles Times

“Highly pragmatic…Phillips's authority as a writer comes in no small part from his own experience as a highly regarded therapist….Like a priest, he is concerned with damnation and salvation, under the secular names of sickness and cure.” ―Adam Kirsch, The Boston Globe

“Transformative…Phillips can tease out contradictions with extraordinary delicacy….He shows that pleasure and desire are not simple; they can be feared…and used to hide things we should really see.” ―The Guardian (London)

“Gently provocative reading on themes of need and desire…Phillips's ideas are fresh and inventive, casting new light on counterintuitive topics from the psychological importance of punishment to the questionable pursuit of happiness.” ―Financial Times

“A set of beguiling essays…the author provides polished ponderables for all readers.” ―Kirkus Reviews

About the Author

Adam Phillips is a psychoanalyst and and a visiting professor in the English department at the University of York. He is the author of many acclaimed books, including On Kissing, Tickling, and Being Bored; Going Sane; and On Kindness (with Barbara Taylor).

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0xa1627774) out of 5 stars 9 reviews
33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa071e444) out of 5 stars Weighty and measured Nov. 24 2010
By A. colbert - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is my second foray into Mr Phillips' writing, and it felt like I had stumbled into a his study as he answered his mail, listened to his colleagues' messages appreciatively, perused a stack of poetry books, waiting for his edits and comments, and then, after a restorative nap and hastily recorded accounting of our respective dreams, he read aloud to his young grandchild a collection of fairy tales, with sidebar observations for my benefit. His intellect and his interests are wide ranging, and he writes at a level beyond my poor ability to absorb it all, but accessibly enough that I am stretched and provoked. This is not self help, and not psychobabble, and not muscle flexing for is own sake.The reader feels he is writing to clarify and perfect his own point of view, as much as the reader's, and he has a capacity for wonder, erudition and history that approaches Emerson, who he has been favorably compared to. There is a gracefulness in the way he gets to the heart of his point, and a lack of judgment or pedantry. Many of his illustrative points were AHA moments for me, which will keep me on the lookout for other things he has written.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa071e690) out of 5 stars Negative Capabilities Aug. 13 2011
By Thomas Thornton - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The world and society being what they are, omnipresent and all-encompassing, they are the default leaders of our lives. Engraved on the subway walls at 42nd and Sixth in New York City are the words of C G Jung: 'Nature must not win the game, but she cannot lose.' About a century ago while Jung was preparing a lecture tour in America, his companion said, 'Don't they realize we are bringing them the plague?' His companion was the star of Phillips's book, Sigmund Freud.

A child psychoanalyst and literary critic, Phillips probes deeply into the human malaise; if you say, What malaise?, this book is not for you. He comes up with the odd remark often, such as, We travel to protect ourselves from the possibility of arriving, or The quest for knowledge would seem to be about dispelling desire: "Tell me who you desire and I will tell you who you are." What humanity as a whole apparently desires however is of a magnitude infinitely greater. On the front page of today's New York Times, seed money of $500,000 is being offered to study what it would take to send humans to another star, a challenge so daunting the study alone could take a hundred years, at which time we will all be dead.

On Balance was my vacation book this year, a kind of ballast against the euphoria, but it would not be the kind of thing I'd want on my private island; I'd want something like a mixture of Zen and Christianity, music above all, and a bottle of wine. I'd leave the great Chinese poets at their rest. May I add how startled I was to read on page 286 how insufficient are all the helps and glories of human civilization, never fully adequate to our needs and desires. "Human nature, without divine redemption, is a disillusionment that cannot be borne." In writing about W H Auden, Phillips says that unredeemed human nature had become unbearable to him. He is not alone in this assessment.

You may also wish to read the fairly positive review in the current New York Review of Books, and may I point out the admiring comment of Judith Shulevitz in her review of All About Love in the August 14 New York Times Book Review: she calls Phillips "an accomplished aphorist who hovers over the pages like an interrupting angel." Lastly, Phillips has a place in the Joys of Secularism, an anthology just published and reviewed by James Wood in the current New Yorker.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa071e654) out of 5 stars A huge fan of Adam Phillips. June 26 2013
By Khalana1331 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A former Psych Major, this is isn't required reading yet I find all of his books entertaining and applicable in day to day life, highly enjoyable, well thought out, intelligent and amusing, all good reads.
HASH(0xa071e948) out of 5 stars Fine writing Sept. 29 2015
By Will - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I don't know almost nothing about neurology, but I have read or plan to read every word Oliver Sacks wrote. I feel the same about Adam Phillips. I know next to nothing about Freud or psychoanalysis, but I am happy to read about it by someone who writes so beautifully. If you like Oliver Sacks or Alain De Botton, you may like Adam Phillips.
HASH(0xa071e9a8) out of 5 stars It's very good, but I gave it a lower score because ... Aug. 15 2015
By Jeri S. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I read about this book on the blog "Brain Pickings". It's very good, but I gave it a lower score because it sometimes became repetitive. That said, the premise is viable, and an important read for over-achievers.


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