Sanity

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9780007155392: Sanity

Writings on madness fill entire libraries, but until now nobody has thought to engage exclusively with the idea of sanity; we define it simply as that bland and nebulous state of not being mentally ill. But what is sanity? How broad, how eccentric is its range of behavior? And how do we go about crafting a creative and fluid definition of a sane existence, one we can guide ourselves by? Madness is always present in our lives -- in the chaos of our experience as babies, the rebellion of our adolescence, the irrational nature of our sexual appetites. In a society governed by indulgence and excess, madness is the state of mind we identify with most keenly -- while it is ultimately destructive, we often credit it as the wellspring of genius, individuality, and self-expression. Sanity, on the other hand, confounds us; it lacks the false allure of madness. Hamlet, as Adam Phillips points out, is glamorous, while the eminently sane Polonius comes off as a fool. In "Going Sane," Phillips redresses this historical imbalance, drawing deeply on literature and his rich experience as a clinician. He strips our lives back to essentials, focusing on how we -- as human beings, as parents, as lovers, as people to whom work matters -- can make space for a sane and well-balanced attitude to living. Phillips's brilliantly incisive and aphoristic style coaxes us into meeting his ideas halfway, and making them our own. In a world saturated by tales of dysfunction and suffering, he offers a way forward that is as down-to-earth and realistic as it is uplifting and hopeful.

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Review:

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 that might 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. (Kirkus Reviews)

About the Author:

Adam Phillips, formerly Principle Child Psychotherapist at Charing Cross Hospital, London, is a practising psychoanalyst and a visiting professor in the English department at the University of York. He is the author of numerous works of psychoanalysis and literary criticism, including most recently Unforbidden Pleasures, and Missing Out. He is General Editor of the Penguin Modern Classics Freud translations, and a Fellow of The Royal Society of Literature.

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Book Description HarperCollins Publishers, United Kingdom, 2005. Hardback. Book Condition: New. 211 x 145 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. Writings on madness fill entire libraries, but until now nobody has thought to engage exclusively with the idea of sanity; we define it simply as that bland and nebulous state of not being mentally ill. But what is sanity? How broad, how eccentric is its range of behavior? And how do we go about crafting a creative and fluid definition of a sane existence, one we can guide ourselves by? Madness is always present in our lives -- in the chaos of our experience as babies, the rebellion of our adolescence, the irrational nature of our sexual appetites. In a society governed by indulgence and excess, madness is the state of mind we identify with most keenly -- while it is ultimately destructive, we often credit it as the wellspring of genius, individuality, and self-expression. Sanity, on the other hand, confounds us; it lacks the false allure of madness. Hamlet, as Adam Phillips points out, is glamorous, while the eminently sane Polonius comes off as a fool. In Going Sane, Phillips redresses this historical imbalance, drawing deeply on literature and his rich experience as a clinician. He strips our lives back to essentials, focusing on how we -- as human beings, as parents, as lovers, as people to whom work matters -- can make space for a sane and well-balanced attitude to living. Phillips s brilliantly incisive and aphoristic style coaxes us into meeting his ideas halfway, and making them our own. In a world saturated by tales of dysfunction and suffering, he offers a way forward that is as down-to-earth and realistic as it is uplifting and hopeful. Bookseller Inventory # NLF9780007155392

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Book Description HarperCollins Publishers, United Kingdom, 2005. Hardback. Book Condition: New. 211 x 145 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. Writings on madness fill entire libraries, but until now nobody has thought to engage exclusively with the idea of sanity; we define it simply as that bland and nebulous state of not being mentally ill. But what is sanity? How broad, how eccentric is its range of behavior? And how do we go about crafting a creative and fluid definition of a sane existence, one we can guide ourselves by? Madness is always present in our lives -- in the chaos of our experience as babies, the rebellion of our adolescence, the irrational nature of our sexual appetites. In a society governed by indulgence and excess, madness is the state of mind we identify with most keenly -- while it is ultimately destructive, we often credit it as the wellspring of genius, individuality, and self-expression. Sanity, on the other hand, confounds us; it lacks the false allure of madness. Hamlet, as Adam Phillips points out, is glamorous, while the eminently sane Polonius comes off as a fool. In Going Sane, Phillips redresses this historical imbalance, drawing deeply on literature and his rich experience as a clinician. He strips our lives back to essentials, focusing on how we -- as human beings, as parents, as lovers, as people to whom work matters -- can make space for a sane and well-balanced attitude to living. Phillips s brilliantly incisive and aphoristic style coaxes us into meeting his ideas halfway, and making them our own. In a world saturated by tales of dysfunction and suffering, he offers a way forward that is as down-to-earth and realistic as it is uplifting and hopeful. Bookseller Inventory # NLF9780007155392

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