Houdini's Box: The Art of Escape

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Pantheon Books, 2001 - Body, Mind & Spirit - 181 pages
Houdini’s Box explores four different escape artists. There is the case history of the little girl who is oddly committed to playing her own wayward version of hide-and-seek. There is Harry Houdini, “the greatest magician the world has ever seen,” an assimilated Jew and immigrant escapee who compulsively reinvents and re-enacts his own confinement. There is a patient of Phillips’s who has come to him after being badgered by his (ex-) girlfriend, who says she wants to help “his next ex.” He is a man who has become entranced, not with woman as object of desire, but with flight from woman, a man hypnotized by the infinite freedom of escape, always arriving at the place from which he is escaping. And finally, there is the poet Emily Dickinson, who for the last twenty years of her life found freedom in self-imposed solitary confinement. Whether we are getting away from something or getting away with something, we cannot describe ourselves without also describing what we need to escape from and what we want to escape to. In this, his most captivating book to date, Adam Phillips reminds us why people often feel most alive in the very moment of escape.

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HOUDINI'S BOX: On the Arts of Escape

User Review  - Kirkus

Tentative explorations into what it means to escape, from noted British psychoanalyst Phillips (The Beast in the Nursery, 1998, etc.).Using aspects of Houdini's life as a kind of refrain, and layering ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Athenable - www.librarything.com

Incoherent. Not worthy of the use of Houdini's name. Read full review


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About the author (2001)

Adam Phillips is the author of six previous books, including "The Beast in the Nursery" & "Monogamy" (both available form Vintage). Formerly the principal child psychotherapist at Charing Cross Hospital in London, he lives in England.

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