“The unexamined life is surely worth living, but is the unlived life worth examining?”
This is how the psychoanalytic writer Adam Phillip begins his book Missing Out.
Within the modern Western approaches, Lacanian psychoanalysis (named after the French Freudian Jacques Lacan 1901-81) has a unique approach to the length of the analysis. Instead of the clock, what the patient says determines the length of the session from five minutes to ninety minutes.
Self-concept (answer to Who am I?) and self-esteem (Own beliefs e.g., I am worthy or I am competent) are part of this self-view.
This reveals a pattern of self-examination: it is always in relation to other people and can never be a stand-alone act.
L’enfer, c’est les autres (Hell is other people), the most misinterpreted quote by the French existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-80) describes the ceaseless ontological struggle as one is forced to see oneself as an object within the world of another consciousness.
- “I don’t have time for such idle thoughts”
- “What’s the use of thinking what I could’ve become!”
- "Can't you see I'm making a living for my family!"
Now, from her unease, we could deduce that she was not used to shopping in a modern city store, which surely is different from her native environment and thus requires different skillsets. We do not know how much anxiety this caused the person, but surely quite a deal. But I wondered what was the motivation for acquiring a Louis Vuitton luxury bag, which she found to be cumbersome, and a state-of-the-art smartphone she couldn’t use (yes, we all use only a handful of their ample features and fumble sometimes).
“Buy this and you will be happy!” is the mantra used by all marketing while “Do this and you will be happy” is the mantra of analysis, shamanism or any other method of self-improvement. The disclaimer that you may become less happy than before is never uttered.
Does it then mean that while pursuing their glamorous and affluent lives, Singaporeans do not examine their lives or live as they would like to and it makes them unhappy and then cancer kills them or that trying to live the American dream Americans are getting slightly mad?
- Missing Out: In Praise of the Unlived Life by Adam Phillips Farrar, Straus and Giroux. ISBN: 978-0374281113 224 pages
- Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi quotes from http://www.quotegarden.com/