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On Wanting to Change Reviews

On Wanting to Change by Adam Phillips

On Wanting to Change

Adam Phillips

Score pending

1 review

Category: Non-fiction, Psychology
Imprint: Penguin Books Ltd
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Publication date: 18 Mar 2021
ISBN: 9780241291771

From the UK's foremost literary psychoanalyst, a dazzling new book on the universal urge to change our lives.

3 stars out of 5
8 Apr 2021

"Despite Phillips’s penchant for surprise, then, his conclusions reiterate liberal bromides"

Despite Phillips’s penchant for surprise, then, his conclusions reiterate liberal bromides – provisionality over fixity, conversation over collective action – which disintegrate on contact with reality. In a book that pits the threat of “dogma” against the desire for meaningful change, it is ironic that Phillips continually circles back to these inflexible assumptions... If Phillips’s thought is less adaptable than it appears, it is also worth questioning his avowed refusal to convince or convert his readers. He is right that an analyst should avoid didacticism; but a writer’s impulse to persuade needn’t imply the same abuse of power. “Honest persuasion” surely means being explicit about that impulse, rather than disguising arguments as impressionistic musings or playful provocations.

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