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[Interviews] Psychoanalyst Adam Phillips: ‘You have to let your child teach you’.

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Post time: 9-7-2019 11:16:58 Posted From Mobile Phone
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The analyst and literary critic on why attention-seeking is a good thing and the pleasures of rereading The Great Gatsby.
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Adam Phillips in his home in west London. Photograph: Richard Saker/The Observer
▼ Adam Phillips is one of Britain’s leading psychoanalysts and literary critics. He has written more than 20 books about psychoanalysis, literature and culture on subjects ranging from Freudand DW Winnicottto Proust and Houdini. He is the general editor of the Penguin Modern Classic Freud series and a visiting professor at the University of York. His new book, Attention Seeking, is about how and why we need attention and the ways in which we seek to attain it.
There are many competing demands on our attention these days. What determines what attracts our attention?
I think it’s a combination of the culture and society we happen to be born into, which provides the material. Our parents are obviously implicitly and explicitly telling us where we should look, what we should listen to, how we should behave. And our education is about this, too: it’s about organising our attention. And then there’s an unknown factor you could call genetics or inherited characteristics.
You suggest that attention might be a form of madness or addiction. Why?
There’s a part of us that wants to attack our own development and the way we do this is by actively narrowing our mind. And that is what a phobia or an addiction is: it’s the overorganising of attention, because it solves a lot of problems in a certain sense.
So the reason we might want to narrow our attention is for fear of the unknown consequences of its promiscuity: we really don’t know where it will take us. And that’s exciting and exhilarating, but it’s also troubling.
Attention-seekers generally have a bad reputation, but you say that “attention-seeking is one of the best things we can do”. Why?
Because we need attention and we don’t usually know what it is in ourselves that we want attending to, but we know we want something from other people. And this is why celebrity culture is interesting. Because it appears that there’s a whole swath of people who know what they want: it could be called fame, it could be called wealth. But I think it’s much more enigmatic than it looks. Because the risk is you get a huge amount of attention and no engagement.
That soundslike a description of social media. Do you agree with the cultural anxiety thatit is eroding our attention span? (▪ ▪ ▪)

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ssangra + 10 Very nice!

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Post time: 9-7-2019 13:09:19
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Great Pity. i always thought that a great part of detection was built around Psychoanalysis. Here is somebody who says he does not read Detective fiction. Perhaps it is the other way round. The detective needs the psychoanalyst and not vice versa!
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