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on 4 September 2014
I rarely write reviews but one of the other reviews really irked me...

The author sets his stall out early on that this is a 'pop-psych' book with his reluctance to use technical jargon. What he has written is an excellent, comprehensive yet accessible critique of modern consumerist society and it's impact upon all of us. It reads like a furious, impassioned rant while maintaining it's credibility with it's allusions to the author's extensive research background.

I have been researching and critiquing the medical/biopsychosocial model of health and illness for some years, but never have I heard the old ADHD debate torn to pieces so effectively.

If you want an informative, exciting psychologist's critique on modern society which you can then pass on to ANY of your right-leaning buddies to make them think, buy this. Otherwise, stroke your ego with the many unreadable 'intellectual pissing contest' books out there...

Paul Verhaeghe, you have a new fan! Get on twitter...
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on 19 November 2014
the author's broad and sweeping brush paints an alarming picture of Western societies where neo liberalism has reduced humans to self centred consumers lacking in empathy. This is a must read for anyone looking for an explanation of increased depression, loneliness and stress in our times. Backed by references, the author suggests a way forward from this mess.

Perhaps some analysis on how some people have tapped into their spiritual lives to redress the imbalance would have been welcome. Nonetheless this book is hugely important in our times and deserves to be read by people from all walks of life.
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on 10 April 2015
Paul Verhaege is a psychotherapist. He denounces the neo-liberal meritocracy as the cause for the increasing inequality for the rise in depression and and anxiety disorders among adults. In 2009, 1 in every 10 Belgians was taking anti-depressants and I suspect this number is higher in my home country, Portugal. Maybe we don't understand that our current society is the cause because it is much easier to see a society in retrospective. Also, this may be because we think we currently live in the best of all times. But, as the author says 'never in the West have we had it so good and never have we felt so bad'. "Our presumed freedom is tied to one central condition: we must be successful - that is, make something of ourselves." And , of course, in this meritocratic system, quality is determined by measurability: anything that can't be measured doesn't count. Our society teaches people to pursue their own advantage irrespective of and, if needs be, at the expense of the other. This leads to universal egotism.
I'm just going to quote a part of his criticism of global consumer society: "What life would be like in a society whose chief motto was that everything can be had. Imagine a society which taught that pain is exceptional and avoidable, and pleasure the normal state of being - that everything can be monitored and predicted, and that if, very occasionally, something goes wrong, it must always be someone's fault. In this society, to forbid a child something is almost tantamount to abusing him or her because children are perfect beings who are entitled to everything that money can buy. (...) Of course, there's no need to set up this experiment because it is already in full swing. Every flat screen, every billboard is constantly sendding us the following messages: all your wants can be met, there's a product for everything, and you don't need to wait until the afterlife for eternal bliss. Life is one big party, although there is one very important condition: you must make it." Brilliant
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on 10 August 2014
This is a book that should be read by everybody who wonders how come they are so unhappy when we have obviously "never had it so good'. Although Paul Verhaege may not have the answers to how society should be organised it clearly spells out what is so very wrong with allowing market forces to dictate how we organise education, healthcare etc etc. If you have ever wondered about what is so very wrong in your workplace? how come your performance is analysed,criticised and measured to death by people who appear to be unaccountable to anyone? this book will give you the answers. I personally found it utterly riveting and very well written,it deserves the plaudits Capital is getting as it sits alongside it very well.
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on 15 January 2015
This is a very fine and much needed critique of our 'everything is or should be measurable' society.

It should, for example, resonate with anyone working in education where batteries of tests have replaced any trust in teachers or pupils or even bureaucrats. The result is not a better education but a vicious circle whereby people become even less trustworthy as any means possible, honest or not, are used to get through the testing hoops. The lesson is presumably not lost on the children either who see the adults' stratagems and shenanigans.
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on 13 August 2014
Seldom have I been so in tune with a book. The author builds an excellent case for how we have ended up in the world we live in and the dangers of Neo-Liberalism. He makes some worrying predictions on the dis-utopia we are zombie-ing towards.

A good read for anyone wondering where society may be heading.
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on 14 October 2014
More depth than the title would suggest, as it's not just about identity, but the financialisation of everything, including the way we think. Masterfully written and extremely accessible. Required reading for anyone who wants to understand how the current order operates.
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on 13 March 2016
This is not an easy read in so many different ways. Not my usual genre of book but I found it both incredibly enlightening and challenging. The book shines a light on what shapes us as individuals and as a society. Paul Verhaeghe does a great job of analysing the evidence available and hypothesising as to the factors that shape our identity. The analysis in this book does not offer simple solutions to the challenges we face byt takes a clinical approach to dissecting the issues/challenges we face. Well worth the read.
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on 23 August 2014
A disappointment. I bought this book because it was mentioned in an article by George Monbiot. The analysis of 'where we are now' is occasionally insightful -- for instance in the author's suggestion that the moral paralysis affecting so many of us is because of the annihilation of the father figure as a supreme authority. But that example in itself points to one of the flaws in the book: Verhaeghe is apparently an orthodox Freudian, and I doubt whether many would now agree that Freud had the answers to our present dilemmas. Much of the rest of the of the ideas here are unremarkable, in fact verging on the bleedin' obvious, and don't go far enough. Another example: he blames us, citizens at large, for thinking of, say, bankers as supreme authorities. But, ask yourself, do we, really? Isn't the point rather that the powers that be, governments and the establishment, very much want us to swallow this belief for their own ends. Sorry. This is a well-meaning piece of work that needs a more imaginative and far-reaching vision.
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on 21 February 2015
This is an ambitious book. It weaves its way through social theory in a kind of haphazard way although it is not without insight. How complete a review of social theory can we ever hope to make anyway. Worth reading but not as a tome in exclusion to others.
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