On Balance

Adam Phillips

Picador

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Every day, we are told that balance is a good thing. We are supposed to make balanced judgments, balance our budget, and preserve a balance of power in our government. Disturbed people are described as unbalanced. In this insightful, charming book, the philosopher and psychoanalyst Adam Phillips looks afresh at balance (and its shadow, excess) and asks if achieving the former is such an admirable goal. From this perspective, Phillips examines the explosive topics of money, sex, parenthood, faith, and education. In his exhilarating and casually brilliant explorations of case studies, fairy tales, works of art, and literature, the paradoxes inherent in our appetites and fears are revealed.

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Book Excerpts

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Five Short Talks on Excess* It is very stretchy. Kay Ryan, ‘The Fabric of Life’
I In Excess Nothing makes people more excessive than talking about excess. We tend to become either extremely disapproving or unusually enthusiastic and excited about the most recently reported celebrity orgy, or managing director’s pay rise. No one can be indifferent to binge drinking, or the amount of pornography on the internet; everyone knows someone now who has a so-called eating disorder, and everyone knows about the huge numbers of people in the world who are starving.

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Reviews

Praise for On Balance

"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




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About the Author

Adam Phillips

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).

Adam Phillips

Jerry Bauer
Adam Phillips

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Available Formats and Book Details

On Balance
Adam Phillips

Trade Paperback

Trade Paperback
Picador
November 2011
Trade Paperback
ISBN: 9780312610746
ISBN10: 0312610742
5 1/2 x 8 1/4 inches, 336 pages
$16.00

e-Book Agency

e-Book Agency
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
August 2010
e-Book Agency
ISBN: 9781429979061
ISBN10: 1429979062
336 pages
$9.99
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From The Publisher

Picador

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