Missing Out: In Praise of the Unlived Life

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.

7 Comments Add yours

  1. Kay says:

    this looks like an interesting book. I have heard him on the radio – he is a wordsmith. ‘What was not possible easily becomes the story of our lives’ – so much in that and why for me mindfulness becomes a way in to dropping the story line/ dropping the narrative and cultivating something new and more present. Thanks for getting me thinking.

  2. Stefanie says:

    What a great quote! So much truth and wisdom in it.

  3. Rio says:

    I am always grateful that the major cock-ups of my life were as small as they were. They might have seemed enormous at the time to me, in terms of my life and what I wanted but were relatively small in the scheme of things. I have had some really dumb ideas, been enamored of some of crazy bastards, and done some dangerous things and it is a SO GOOD that none of it amounted to very much. 🙂

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