Terrors and Experts by Adam Phillips
Adam Phillips is most famous for his strikingly well written investigation into the margins of a life On Kissing, Tickling and Being Bored, but here he turns his critical gaze on his own profession. Terrors and Experts argues, often quite polemically, that no one can tell you what a good life is nor how to live it. Phillips suggests that psychoanalysis can, at best, suggest that all life stories are narratives that have certain logics, certain directions; and if one occasionally gets lost within the narrative one is telling about oneself, perhaps a certain form of conversation, called analysis, could be helpful. Phillips is careful -- everything for him is provisional. The science of the unconscious that Freud discovered, Phillips believes, already always deconstructs any possible idea of a science of itself. Phillips reads into Freud a post-Freudian Freud always at battle with the scientism of the Professor. This caution, this constant contingent perhaps (non-dogmatic, anti-authoritarian), counsels us against creating experts of the mind or of life. As Phillips would ask, what would it mean to be an expert on life anyway?