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Missing Out: In Praise of the Unlived Life Paperback – 4 Jul 2013

3.5 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Frequently Bought Together

  • Missing Out: In Praise of the Unlived Life
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  • One Way and Another: New and Selected Essays
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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (4 July 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141031816
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141031811
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.6 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 50,943 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Adam Phillips was born in Cardiff in 1954. He is the author of numerous works of psychotherapy and literary criticism, including Winnicott, On Kissing, Tickling, and Being Bored, Going Sane, Side Effects, On Kindness, co-written with Barbara Taylor, On Balance, Missing Out, One Way and Another and Becoming Freud.

Phillips is a practising psychoanalyst and a visiting professor in the English department at the University of York. He writes regularly for the London Review of Books, the Observer and the New York Times, and he is General Editor of the Penguin Modern Classics Freud translations. His new book, Unforbidden Pleasures, comes out in November 2015 and is published by Hamish Hamilton.


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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Nobody thinks quite like Adam Phillips, and therefore nobody writes like him, either. He is, among today's essayists, unique. A profoundly insightful analyst, yes, of course, but one who travels in zigzag or roundabout fashion towards his conclusions, which makes him continuously surprising and illuminating (and vastly enjoyable to read). Mr Phillips gives the impression that he is often discovering the answers to his questions as he writes, and that makes for truly thrilling reading. At least, it does for me. Read him and see if you agree.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I loved this book, and expect to be re-reading it for a long time to come. I came to it from the copious recommendations on the Brain Pickings blog.
General comments - Philips' prose style is not easy to read. He expects you to read his words with the same sort of care that a psychotherapist listens to the words of an analysand. So you have to invest a bit of attention. This is necessary in the same way that a warm-up is necessary before a work-out. If you can't do this, you won't be develop the mental muscles you need to put his ideas into practice (and that is the idea).

This is not pop psychology or a how-to manual. You have to accept a lot of the basic precepts of Freudian psychology, although Philips is willing to point out when he hits the limits of this approach. He also draws on the work of those who have taken Freud's tools and developed them, like Winnicott and Bion. But if you think Freudian psychology is poppycock, then you won't like this book. There is a lot of analysis, and that is not everyone's cup of tea.

What I've taken away from the book - it's about "getting it", both in terms of getting what you want, and understanding (getting) what you want. He also goes into ideas of what "getting away with it" means, and what revenge means in terms of getting satisfaction. And how satisfaction can generally be a form of revenge. He does this using King Lear and Othello as his main texts, and I would say that if you are a fan of these, two of Shakespeare's plays, then his analysis of them more than justifies the book.

This brief paragraph doesn't do justice to the density of the analysis and the precision of the prose. There's the occasional bravura flourish or allusion that could be read as "showing off".
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Format: Hardcover
I really wanted to like this book as, having heard about it Radio 4's 'Start the Week' programme, I was fascinated by the premise. I still am, but I've come away with the feeling that none of the book's chapters really came close to justifying the argument.

I found that they got infuriating close, but then the chapter ended abruptly and the next chapter seemed to me to be a non-logical leap - it wasn't really a surprise to find out (as I did in the acknowledgements) that each of the chapters was originally a separate lecture.

But then what do I know? This is the first book on psychoanalysis that I've read, and it has two five-star reviews already, including one that reads "Because of its fascinating aspects i [sic] reckon allot [sic] of people will find it hard to read." - so maybe it's me, the reader, that's at fault rather than the writer.

All I know is I'm glad I got it out of the library rather than buying it - sorry Amazon!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Brilliantly argued and written, it is a mind-opening pleasure to read Adam Phillips Missing Out, which I purchased after loving On Kindness.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Prologue and Chapter 1 are fantastic - well written and easy to understand. The rest of the book is dense and at times incomprehensible.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
great book. love the idea and my work with people who feel they have missed out on their lives will be more insightful
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Format: Hardcover
I picked this book up at Waterstones, thinking the topic and thesis would be rather fascinating. It was highly praised.
Though I read avidly, I have not previously written an Amazon review but I am sufficiently moved to do so on this occasion because I found this book so unreadable, the text being so irritating and neurotic: in a word, digressive.
I am not by temperament tolerant of verbal diarrhoea and prefer writers who get to the point and am happy if they entertain or write beautifully on the way.
This thesis might make an interesting read as bullet points on one page of foolscap, which could allow some of us to know why others find this book so marvellous.
I have tried twice and will try reading it again in the Spring, when the sun is out.
Psychoanalysts are prone to write in this manner, expecting us to believe that every impulse in every neurone is fascinating; this latter not being the case, I prefer writers who think the universe makes sense and may even be moral, taking a more classical approach and adopting a more continent style, perhaps the noble simplicity and still greatness proposed by Goethe; these such writers usually have a good writing style and tend not to be post-modernists. So it could just be me.
I will give the book another go eventually and will write again if I become a convert.
No stars till then or maybe one, as that seems to be the minimum. Sorry Adam, if I am missing out.
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