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Missing Out: In Praise of the Unlived Life

3.4  ·  Rating Details ·  740 Ratings  ·  115 Reviews
A transformative book about the lives we wish we had and what they can teach us about who we are.

All of us lead two parallel lives: the one we are actively living, and the one we feel we should have had or might yet have. As hard as we try to exist in the moment, the unlived life is an inescapable presence, a shadow at our heels. And this itself can become the story of our
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published June 1st 2012 by Hamish Hamilton (first published January 1st 2012)
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Bradd Saunders
Mar 13, 2013 Bradd Saunders rated it it was amazing
Adam Phillips is one of my favorite writers, though I understand why he drives some people crazy. He doesn't write self-help books, per se, so much as psychological and philosophical essays made with the idea that to better understand the nature of the self and the world results in a kind of self help -- you live better and in greater harmony with events, or, as he might put it, in greater harmony with your occasional disharmony when you operate from a more sophisticated understanding of your wo ...more
Jun 11, 2013 Deb rated it it was ok
**Missing it on Missing Out**

My head is still spinning from this book. And, unfortunately, not in a productive way.

Similar to the experience of other reviewers, I had expectations that this book would offer a useful exploration of how looking at the yet-unlived aspects of our lives can help guide us towards more meaningful lives. Perhaps I was lured by the subtitle of “In praise of the unlived life” and the reviews on the back, which, in retrospect, were more about the undelivered promises foun
Hazal Çamur
Beklentimin altında kalan, ama okuduğuma pişman olmadığım bir eserdi. Özellikle alt başlığının yarattığı heyecanı karşılayamadı. Bunda benim Jungcu düşünceyi benimsemiş, kitabınsa Freud'u referans alan bir yapısının olmasının da etkisi olabilir. Yine de belirtmem gerek, kendi düşüncemle hemfikir olan eserleri değil de, farklı olanları okumayı severim.

Kaçırdıklarımız, benim için tatlı küçük notlar barındıran bir kitaptı; ancak bekleneni veremedi. Beklediğim kadar ufkumu açmadı ya da beklediğim öl
Keith Wilson
Apr 28, 2014 Keith Wilson rated it really liked it
British psychoanalyst, Adam Phillips, must have had enough of writing about life as we actually live it. He’s the author of On Kissing, Tickling and Being Bored; Flirtation, etc. Now, he’s come out with a book that explores the life we have not lived, the effect of what we believe could’ve been. In the process of examining our fantasies, he illuminates reality.

Missing Out is written in non-technical language, but don’t attempt the book if you’re not up on Shakespeare. He relies far too much on t
Feb 03, 2013 Eliza rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
2/14/2013: Well. That was tough. I was looking forward to reading this book, as it got good reviews and I love the premise that we all have unlived lives that are actually part of our lived lives, and that we need to accommodate those unlived lives into our lives and not feel regret that we can't have lived them. (Or…something like that. At least that's what I gleaned from the reviews!)

But I was not expecting what I got, which was a dense academic psychoanalytic study of frustration, satisfacti
Jan 23, 2013 Kristine rated it did not like it
what the hell?
C.M. Subasic
Aug 30, 2014 C.M. Subasic rated it it was amazing
Are you missing the joke of life? Are you ever satisfied? Do you seem to always live the life you don't have? Do fantasies seem more real than the world around you?

Adam Phillips is a psychoanalyst who also spends his Wednesdays writing. Originally standing firmly in the Freudian camp, from essay to essay and book to book he has drifted into the world of philosophy. In this book he looks at:

* How we can never understand what we really want until we can recognize the nature of our frustration.
Mar 22, 2013 Pamela rated it liked it
I had high hopes for this book, and there's much to recommend it, but after a while the aphorism-upon-aphorism style becomes wearying, and I longed to shout at Phillips to please GROUND his discussion in scruffy real life. The starting premise is a terrific one--that most of our lives are taken up with fantasizing about, or mourning the lack of, experiences we aren't actually having. What to do with our endless tendency to ignore what we really are in favor of what we're convinced we coulda been ...more
Rebecca Foster
Oct 05, 2013 Rebecca Foster rated it it was ok
Shelves: unfinished
A very promising subject, but I never got past page 34. Here’s an example of Phillips’s occasionally repetitive, almost tongue-twister style: “Knowing too exactly what we want is what we do when we know what we want, or when we don’t know what we want.” (Starting to sound like Rumsfeld and his ‘known unknowns’ there!)
Sep 09, 2015 Sinem rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
çok da yepyeni birşeyler söylemese de edebiyat üzerinden hayatımaza dair yapılan çıkarsamalar küçük notlar almaya üzerine düşünmeye ve birşeyleri anlamaya değer.
Neil Richardson
Aug 26, 2013 Neil Richardson rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Gave up on it. Pretentious, turgid and incoherent.
Sep 05, 2016 Samet rated it really liked it
Uzun zamandır bu kadar ufuk açan bir kitap okumamıştım; inanılmaz keyifliydi.

Özellikle yazarın 'hüsran' ile ilgili yazdıklarını tekrar tekrar okudum.

Psikanaliz her zaman en kıymetlim olmuştur; burada da Shakespeare eserleri üzerinden tatmin, hüsran, delilik vb. konularda önemli ve keyifli tespitlerde bulunmuş yazar.
Nov 19, 2015 Beyza rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ve kitabı okurken hissettiğim şey şu oldu: Gerçekten de hayatlarımız hüsran, kavrayamamak, yanına kar kalmak, çıkıp gitmek, tatmin ve deli rolü üzerine kurulu. Psikanaliz ve psikanalistler iyi ki var.
Apr 17, 2013 Andrew rated it did not like it
Incomprehensible for layman reader,even for the one with academic background in psychology. Few interesting, aphoristically formed insights embedded in the ocean of psychoanalytic verbiage. Otherwise - well, not much more.
Oğuzcan Önver
Jan 30, 2017 Oğuzcan Önver rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
içindeki çirkinliği kendin buldun. artık hayatını projelerle, kitaplarla, filmlerle ve kız arkadaşlarla doldurabilirsin ama bunlar seni bir bütün yapmayacak.
M. Sarki
Dec 04, 2016 M. Sarki rated it liked it

…In my version of strong reading , the strong reader is trying to rediscover what he hates, and he is looking for clues about how he can get out of it.

The title alone is reason enough to read this interesting elegy. But unfortunately, drawing from the works by William Shakespeare, Sigmund Freud, Henry James, and Winnicott failed to buy me out, even though the liberal offerings regarding the clinical experience of Adam Phillips did provide enough grist for
Lyn Relph
Sep 22, 2013 Lyn Relph rated it liked it
If things go right for us at life’s start, bonding with mother is our first important experience. Mom can figure out what we need, what we want, and Mom can satisfy us. According to eminent British analyst Adam Phillips, however (in Missing Out: In Praise of the Unlived Life), attachment to mother leads inevitably to a next experience, disappointment or frustration. Mom cannot maintain a perfect record, she eventually lets us down, and we resent that profoundly.

Frustration can hobble us, can mak
Apr 18, 2015 Rrrrrron rated it it was ok
Shelves: quits, mid-to
This review is in praise of the unwritten book
The title is a lie. Along with the publisher's blurb of an absorbing book about our desires and dreams - the unlived life. The book is a starting point for the author to embark on a meandering stream of thoughts, almost completely unrelated to your expectations from the title.

The author takes us on a Freudian psychoanalytic tour of the 'unlived life'. But all good post-modern ventures
play on the the leakages in our language. Yes, there are many us
Yasemin Şahin
Adam Phillps'in okuduğum ilk kitabıydı. Bu kitabı verdiği konferanslardan derleme olarak bir araya getirmesine rağmen hüsran, kavrayamamak, yanına kar kalmak, çıkıp gitmek üzerine, tatmin üzerine, deli rolü üzerine başlıklarıyla güzel bir bütünlük oluşturmuş. Sonuç bölümünde, yanına kar kalmakla bu kitabı temel aldığını söylese de çevirisi sıkıntısı mıdır, çok fazla tekrardan mıdır bilmiyorum, en çok o bölümde sıkıldım. Shakespeare oyunlarını ve Freud'un psikanalizini temel alarak tüm bu başlıkl ...more
Sep 22, 2016 Rambox rated it it was amazing
Shelves: pop-psychology
Adam Phillips gets it, which means, whatever else it means, that he often doesn't. One is reminded here of the message of Viktor Frankl and Brene Brown - that the key to psychological integration is to locate the origin of our happiness in our unhappiness. One key difference between Phillips and these others, of course, is that Phillips is a practitioner, while the other two are thinkers. As a result, Phillips doesn't give us the answer directly, knowing as he does, as we do, that the only true ...more
Apr 08, 2016 Canan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: psychology
Adam Phillips'in kitaplarını okurken çok şey öğreniyorum. Ancak bu kitabında tekrara çok düşmüş gibi geldi bana. Yine de metin sağlam.
May 28, 2013 Clarence rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not the "self help" I'd hoped for...more like the trenchant psychoanalytic literary criticism I hadn't hoped for, but enjoyed anyway.
Frank Jude
Jul 10, 2015 Frank Jude rated it really liked it
This book's first two chapters are essays entitled "On Frustration" and "On Not Getting It." Rarely have I read a book that somehow induces the very state the writer is writing about! I found myself consistently wondering if I was "getting it," or being very sure that I was "not getting it," and yet I was "getting" something! Along with aesthetic pleasure, reading this book felt like a kind of healing. And yet, I'm at a loss to summarize what it is about!

The subtitle says, "In Praise of the Unli
May 23, 2015 Susan rated it did not like it
This is the first time in my life I've ever given up on a book after reading the prologue and two pages of chapter one. I'm an educated person, a published critic and editor, and this author's syntax is atrocious. He would never get past anyone who has edited my work and I would not allow this kind of sentence structure by in a work I edited. The dash is pretty much a punctuation mark to be used sparingly, not an excuse for not knowing or caring to use proper punctuation. The prologue must've ha ...more
Jun 25, 2012 Robert rated it it was ok
I really wanted to like this book as, having heard about it Radio 4's 'Start the Week' programme, I was fascinated by the premise. I still am, but I've come away with the feeling that none of the book's chapters really explained it to my satisfaction - nor did they go into sufficient depth/detail about how the unlived life could/can satisfy needs that can't be met by the lived life.

I found that they often got infuriating close, particularly towards the end of the book, but then the chapter would
Jul 26, 2016 Blair rated it liked it
Adam Phillips’ book is based on the thought that we live two lives – the one we actually live and the one we think we could live, or could have lived, given different circumstances and choices. The book delves into the idea that much of the frustration in our lives comes from trying to reconcile the two different lives – both real and desired.

I see great value to this thought because I think understanding the two different lives helps both explain our current situation, as Phillips has learned t
Nathanael Booth
Phillips analyzes the idea of “missing out”—the idea that we all have that our lives might have gone another direction, that we have within us wells of untapped potential. He discusses how we experience this lack, how we seek it in others, how the drive to fill it (and the over-whelming certainty that we know what we need) can drive us to acts of madness.

It’s a good book. Not great, but good. Sometimes, Phillips inclines too much toward the aphorism, but they’re good aphorisms:

“People become rea
Oct 18, 2015 Treven rated it really liked it
The first chapter on 'frustration' was a bit too academic gabbably gook but by the second I found it settling down into a more cohesive theme and style. I think there is some real profundity in here that is very relevant to our life and times (looks at facebook). Particularly the section on 'getting away with it' which is such a fundamental aspect of American identity that we are not even aware of it. Essentially, we compete on how much we can evade the rules to our advantage and thus do not act ...more
Christopher Brennan
Jan 26, 2013 Christopher Brennan rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013
This was not the book I expected to read. Taken from a very Freudian school of thought Phillips explores ideas of desire and satisfaction. The man loves parenthetical expression and his context of "not getting it" resonated with me through out because there were paragraphs I literally had to read aloud to get the context of. I think there is tremendous value in the topic of this book but I'm not sure it would be accessible to someone who didn't have a solid foundation in both Freudian Psychoanal ...more
May 23, 2013 Phillip rated it it was ok
Shelves: writing
The book is a personal essay. He discusses the difference between what people think they want and what will actually bring them satisfaction. The primary example is relationships. He uses Freudian psychology and examples from the works of Shakespeare.

This is not a self-help book. It is more of an exploratory essay.

One phrase he used that I liked was "Learning how not to ride the bicycle".
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Adam Phillips is a British psychotherapist and essayist.

Since 2003 he has been the general editor of the new Penguin Modern Classics translations of Sigmund Freud. He is also a regular contributor to the London Review of Books.

Phillips was born in Cardiff, Wales in 1954, the child of second-generation Polish Jews. He grew up as part of an extended family of aunts, uncles and cousins and describes
More about Adam Phillips...

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“The wish to be understood may be our most vengeful demand, may be the way we hang on, as asults, to our grudge against our mothers; the way we never let our mothers off the hook for their not meeting our every need. Wanting to be understood, as adults, can be our most violent form of nostalgia.” 25 likes
“If you want to be with somebody who gets you, you prefer collusion to desire, safety to excitement (sometimes good things to prefer but not always the things most wanted). The wish to be understood may be our most vengeful demand, may be the way we hang on, as adults, to the grudge against our mothers; the way we never let our mothers of the hook for their not meeting our every need. Wanting to be understood, as adults, can be, among many other things our most violent form of nostalgia.” 13 likes
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