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Promises, Promises: Essays on Literature and Psychoanalysis [Paperback]

Adam Phillips
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 Dec 2000
This is a collection of essays that sets out to make and break the links between psychoanalysis and literature. It gives insights into anorexia and cloning, the work of Tom Stoppard and A.E. Housman, the effect of the Blitz on Londoners, Nijinsky's diary and Martin Amis' "Night Train".

Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; New Edition edition (1 Dec 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571202977
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571202973
  • Product Dimensions: 19.2 x 12.8 x 3.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,361,588 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'He writes compellingly... Because he loves literature and plainly loves writing too, Adam Phillips makes psychoanalysis plausible to the outsider. By questioning its aims and qualifying its claims, he reduces its scientific pretensions but makes it a lot more credible as therapy.' Christian Tyler, Financial Times; 'A brilliant collection of essays around the subjects in which Phillips excels.' Melvyn Bragg, Observer --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Adam Phillips was formerly Principal Child Psychotherapist at Charing Cross Hospital in London. He is the author of, among others, Darwin's Worms, Promises, Promises, Equals and Houdini's Box. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Promise of Reading 4 Mar 2002
First off, I've read most of Phillips' books, and I'm a fan. He's sometimes almost incoherent (I think deliberately) but there's always a massive pay off if you're willing to fight through his prose. It comes usually in the form of a transformation in the way you understand and see simple, day-to-day anxieties and problems.
Second, this book looks and sounds like self therapy because undeniably it is, but Phillips is so pragmatic and has his tongue in his cheek often enough to make a fairly skeptical, anti-touchy-feely guy like me read on most of the time. It's never preachy, and he only ever asks the reader to question tired and unimaginative answers.
Third, dismiss this particular Phillips (but never all of them) if you're put off by, and can't ignore literary and psychoanalytic references. Reading the book is like taking a peak into the insular world of youngish, hip psychotherapists and artists and their entourage of admirers -- themselves! There's an insular feel to some of the prose -- like you're listening to an injoke among the erudite. But at least you're invited to the party on this occasion. Many of the unconnected essays in Promises Promises were read to crowds that Phillips was invited to speak in front of.
Phillips describes in one essay how he and his patient, a painter, tackle the patient's mild case of agoraphobia, or fear of open spaces. He makes the un-agoraphobic reader see the painters' dilemma through a familiar problem: clutter. "Clutter: A Case History" reveals that as a boy the painter had been left pretty much to his own devices. After much prodding, Phillips reveals that the way that painter cluttered his teenage room, and later on jammed his paintings to the brim, became a way almost to make company.
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Psychotherapy 21 Mar 2010
This book provides adequate information for many individuals, irrespective of their previous knowledge. It is well written and provides an easy focus, whilst maintaining a professional approach.
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