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Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
Missing Out

Missing Out

In Praise of the Unlived Life

Adam Phillips

Farrar, Straus and Giroux


A transformative book about the lives we wish we had and what they can teach us about who we are

All of us lead two parallel lives: the one we are actively living, and the one we feel we should have had or might yet have. As hard as we try to exist in the moment, the unlived life is an inescapable presence, a shadow at our heels. And this itself can become the story of our lives: an elegy to unmet needs and sacrificed desires. We become haunted by the myth of our own potential, of what we have in ourselves to be or to do. And this can make of our lives a perpetual falling-short.
But what happens if we remove the idea of failure from the equation? With his flair for graceful paradox, the acclaimed psychoanalyst Adam Phillips suggests that if we accept frustration as a way of outlining what we really want, satisfaction suddenly becomes possible. To crave a life without frustration is to crave a life without the potential to identify and accomplish our desires.
In this elegant, compassionate, and absorbing book, Phillips draws deeply on his own clinical experience as well as on the works of Shakespeare and Freud, of D. W. Winnicott and William James, to suggest that frustration, not getting it, and and getting away with it are all chapters in our unlived lives—and may be essential to the one fully lived.

On Frustration

Nothing I know matters more
Than what never happened.
John Burnside, ‘Hearsay'

Tragedies are stories about people not getting what they want, but not all stories about people not getting what they...

Praise for Missing Out

“A wonderfully concise appeal for presentness...Elegantly stated.” —The Boston Globe

Missing Out is [Adam Phillips's] most poetic, paradoxical, repetitive, and punning yet; he doesn't argue in a linear fashion but nestles ideas within ideas, like Russian dolls.” —Sheila Heti, The New York Times Book Review

“[Adam Phillips] has an elegant prose style...with a talent for turning a phrase, a knack for epigrams” —Los Angeles Review of Books

“Extraordinary...Always humane, never reductive, Phillips is one of those writers whom it is a pleasure simply to hear think.” —The Sunday Telegraph (London)


Reviews from Goodreads

Adam Phillips

Adam Phillips is a psychoanalyst and a visiting professor in the English department at the University of York. He is the author of many books, including On Kissing, Tickling, and Being Bored; Going Sane; Side Effects; and On Balance. He is also the coauthor, with the historian Barbara Taylor, of On Kindness; with the critic Leo Bersani, of Intimacies; and with the exhibition-maker Judith Clark, of The Concise Dictionary of Dress.

image of Adam Phillipso
Jerry Bauer

Adam Phillips

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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