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The fading of Freud

Talking cures have their place, but psychoanalytic theory has faded into brain science. Adam Phillips's attempt to define sanity is beside the point

By Brenda Maddox   April 2005

Going Sane by Adam Phillips (Hamish Hamilton, £14.99)

Adam Phillips’s favourite pronoun is “we.” He assumes an audience of like-minded people who have read the same books and who warm to generalisations such as “we don’t think of babies as sane,” and “we have become the only animals who cannot bear themselves.”

In his latest book, Going Sane, this prolific psychoanalytic populariser develops the idea that “we” need a new definition of sanity. “We can’t quite work out how our lives would be better, or even different, if we were sane.”

Whom is he talking to? Not me. Certainly…

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