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

3.4 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews

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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 1.4 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 146,944 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"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 "

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)"" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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.

Adam 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 most recent book is Unforbidden Pleasures.


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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: Paperback
To begin with a parody...

While the premise of this rambling, discursive, digressive, incoherent book, volume or tome (conventionally a collection of printed paper bound together between soft or hard covers; nowadays as likely to be an e-book), that is to say, the main thrust of its argument or its central idea - that our lives, that is, existences, by which I mean quotidian routines, the way we actually exist, never turn out quite as expected, that our unmet aspirations inform our 'lived lives' and that finding the balance between what Larkin called the "immobile, locked, Three-handed struggle between Your wants, the world's for you, and (worse) The unbeatable slow machine That brings what you'll get", is the key to satisfaction - is interesting enough, its execution is, to say the least, howlingly unsuccessful thanks to its dreadful writing.

No, I can't go on like that. I'd never make a good parodist. I'm still being far too comprehensible. For me, untangling Philips's clotted syntax in an attempt to discern his intended meaning was akin to combing congealed spaghetti - indeed, the book reads rather like he dictated it to a distracted amanuensis over a couple of late-night bottles of wine and didn't bother to review it. I managed to get through the introduction and a couple of pages of the first chapter before I flung it across the room in a fit of pique, tired of having to go over sentences several times in an attempt to work out what he meant to say.

I'm a professional copy editor and I can tell you that manuscripts arrive on the editor's desk in this sort of state; it's not how they should be when they leave the building.

Penguin, this reflects very badly on you.
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Format: Kindle Edition
The basic premise of this book is that everyone is unsatisfied with their life, and has constant, deep pangs of anguish about the opportunities they had, that they didn't take, their possible other options. He believes that we are all riddled with unfulfilled feeling, constantly comparing our present situation to other options, and busily envying other people. The author simply assumes this is true of everyone, then just keeps banging on in the same vein, again and again, making the same point using slightly different phraises. Based on reading the reviews for this book, I expected a thoughtful philosophical essay, not a lazy, un-nuanced, narrow rant. I believe it is worthwhile to occasionally take stock of your past, and with this in mind I notice a pang of regret at the time I spent reading this.
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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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