Equals

Equals

Equals

Equals

Synopsis

Written in his beloved epigrammatic and aphoristic style, Equals extends Adam Phillip's probings into the psychological and the political, bringing his trenchant wit to such subjects as the usefulness of inhibitions and the paradox of permissive authority. He explores why citizens in a democracy are so eager to establish levels of hierarchy when the system is based on the assumption that every man is created equal. And he ponders the importance of mockery in group behavior, and the psyche's struggle as a metaphor for political conflict.

Excerpt

If the best thing we do is look after each other, then the worst thing we do is pretend to look after each other when in fact we are doing something else. One of the many disturbing things about psychoanalysis - as a description of who we are, and as a kind of help - is that it shows us why it is often so difficult to tell these things apart. Or rather, it shows us that this distinction, upon which most of our morality depends, is often spurious because we are always likely to be doing both things at once (and several more). Love is not enough, because love is fraught with hatred. It is to what is being taken when we take care of another person that Freud drew our attention.

At our most rationally optimistic we can acknowledge the starker ambiguities of the simplest exchange, and just think of it as a question of proportion, of getting our (emotional) sums right; of there being more love than hate in the equation, enough good will despite the other kinds of will. But once we stop trying to measure feelings - stop describing our feelings as like things that can be quantified - the new morality of helping people that is ushered in by psychoanalysis seems rather more complicated. If we are, as psychoanalysis proposes, the ambivalent animals, then doing good is a form of doing harm, and vice versa; purity of heart vanishes as an ideal, and niceness begins to look rather more interesting than it seemed. 'We would not be surprised', the psychoanalyst Harold Searles writes . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.