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  • Monogamy
  • Written by Adam Phillips
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  • Monogamy
  • Written by Adam Phillips
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On Sale: December 01, 2010
Pages: 0 | ISBN: 978-0-307-77276-3
Published by : Vintage Knopf
Monogamy Cover

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In this sparkling, provocative collection of meditations on coupledom and its discontents, Adam Phillips manages to unsettle one of our most dearly held ideals, that of the monogamous couple, by speculating upon the impulses that most threaten it--boredom, desire, and the tempting idea that erotic fulfillment might lie elsewhere. With 121 brilliant aphorisms, the witty, erudite psychoanalyst who gave us On Kissing, Tickling, and Being Bored distills the urgent questions and knotty paradoxes behind our mating impulse, and reveals the centrality of monogamy to our notions of marriage, family, the self--in fact, to everything that matters.

The only truly monogamous relationship is the one we have with ourselves.
Every marriage is a blind date that makes you wonder what the alternatives are to a blind date.
There's nothing more scandalous than a happy marriage.


Excerpts from Monogamy:

"Our survival at the very beginning of our lives involves us in something like monogamy. Our growing up involves us in something like infidelity (we challenge our parents, we betray them, we let them down). So when we think about monogamy we think about it as though we are still children and not adults as well. We don't know what adults think about monogamy."

"A couple is a conspiracy in search of a crime. Sex is often the closest they can get."

"You can be occasionally unfaithful, but you can't be occasionally monogamous. You can't be monogamous and unfaithful at the same time; you can't not be either. It's a double life each way. If you choose one, you choose the possibility of both. That's real commitment."

"Each of our relationships is different, and we are different in each of them. That is what makes monogamy so perversely interesting."

"If sex brought us into the family, it is also what breaks us out of the family. In other words, people leave home when what they have got to hide -- their sexuality -- either has to be hidden somewhere else, or when it is best shown somewhere else. If you've got nothing to hide, you've got no where to go. Which is one of the reasons why couples sometimes want to be totally honest with each other."
Adam Phillips

About Adam Phillips

Adam Phillips - Monogamy

Photo © Jason Bell

Adam Phillips is the author of Winnicott; On Kissing, Tickling, and Being Bored; On Flirtation; Terrors and Experts; Monogamy; The Beast in the Nursery; Darwin?s Worms; and Promises, Promises. Formerly the principal child psychotherapist at Charing Cross Hospital in London, he lives in England.


"Wonderful . . . Phillips's great gift as a writer is for aphorism and paradox, and that is the joy of Monogamy." --Esquire

"Adam Phillips writes with far-sighted equanimity. . . . In this regard, he's a little like an Oliver Sacks of psychoanalysis, both affable and unalarmed." --The Boston Globe

"Phillips's reflections on monogamy are both discomforting and comforting." --The Washington Post Book World

"Playful, brilliant . . . profound . . . keeps us faithful to the last page."--The New York Observer

  • Monogamy by Adam Phillips
  • March 30, 1999
  • Psychology & Psychiatry
  • Vintage
  • $15.00
  • 9780679776178

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