Being sceptical to psychoanalysis as a therapeutic method in cases of severe mental illness, I still believe that psychoanalytical theory has a lot to offer the fields of arts and humanities. One of the most interesting contemporary writers in this field is the British psychoanalyst Adam Phillips. Here is from his book “Missing Out: In Praise of the Unlived Life” (Farrar, Straus & Giroux).
Instead of feeling that we should have a better life we should just live, as gratifyingly as possible, the life we have. Otherwise, we are setting ourselves up for bitterness. What makes us think that we could have been a contender? Yet, in the dark of night, we do think this, and grieve that it wasn’t possible.
What was not possible all too easily becomes the story of our lives. Our lived lives might become a protracted mourning for, or an endless trauma about, the lives we were unable to live.