We are all more primitive and irrational than we care to acknowledge, says Dr. Leonard Shengold in this profound and eloquent book. We all suffer to some degree from delusionsvestiges of infantile mental functioning that continue into adult life and that at times of crisis manifest themselves in narcissistic thoughts of omnipotence, immortality, or perfection. Dr. Shengold argues that we can never eliminate these delusions of everyday life, but we can lessen their effect if we acknowledge, or "own", them. He asserts that insight into what we are and what has happened to us is a prerequisite for caring about others and for accepting the transient conditions of lifeboth necessary to attain happiness.
Dr. Shengold discusses delusions we all experience as well as delusions associated with paranoia, perversions, being in love, and identification with delusional parents. He illustrates his ideas by referring to the lives and works of such literary figures as Shakespeare, Swift, Tolstoy, Pascal, Rilke, Randall Jarrell, Dickens, Hardy, and, especially, Samuel Butler. Dr. Shengold also brings in relevant clinical material because, as he points out, delusions of everyday life are at the heart of misunderstanding and conflict in life and of resistance to change in psychological treatment. These delusions must be attenuated if therapy is to be successful.