Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
On Balance

On Balance

Adam Phillips

Farrar, Straus and Giroux




"Balancing acts," writes Adam Phillips, "are entertaining because they are risky, but there are situations in which it is more dangerous to keep your balance than to lose it." In these exhilarating and casually brilliant essays, the philosopher and psychoanalyst examines literature, fairy tales, works of art, and case studies to reveal the paradoxes inherent in our appetites and fears. How do we know when enough is enough? Are there times when too much is just right? Why is Cinderella's biggest problem not the prince but other women? What can Richard III's furious sense of his own helplessness tell us of our own desires? On Balance shows Phillips's bravura gift for linking disparate ideas and the dreamers that dreamed them into something beautiful, revelatory, and essential.


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...


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

Reviews from Goodreads

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

From the Publisher

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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