Writings on madness fill entire libraries, but until now nobody has thought to engage exclusively with the idea of sanity; we define it simply as that bland and nebulous state of not being mentally ill. But what is sanity? How broad, how eccentric is its range of behavior? And how do we go about crafting a creative and fluid definition of a sane existence, one we can guide ourselves by?
Madness is always present in our lives -- in the chaos of our experience as babies, the rebellion of our adolescence, the irrational nature of our sexual appetites. In a society governed by indulgence and excess, madness is the state of mind we identify with most keenly -- while it is ultimately destructive, we often credit it as the wellspring of genius, individuality, and self-expression. Sanity, on the other hand, confounds us; it lacks the false allure of madness. Hamlet, as Adam Phillips points out, is glamorous, while the eminently sane Polonius comes off as a fool. In Going Sane, Phillips redresses this historical imbalance, drawing deeply on literature and his rich experience as a clinician. He strips our lives back to essentials, focusing on how we -- as human beings, as parents, as lovers, as people to whom work matters -- can make space for a sane and well-balanced attitude to living.
Phillips's brilliantly incisive and aphoristic style coaxes us into meeting his ideas halfway, and making them our own. In a world saturated by tales of dysfunction and suffering, he offers a way forward that is as down-to-earth and realistic as it is uplifting and hopeful.
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