August 18, 2023
Is psychoanalysis a path to change, or a way of avoiding it?
It is significant that conversion, in its extremist form, comes on the scene when frustration is no longer bearable, as a failure of tolerance—the preeminent virtue of political liberalism. Phillips’s other watchwords are the familiar liberal ones of sympathy, negotiation, compromise, and collaboration. “Liberals,” he says in On Wanting to Change, “prefer conversation to rote learning, multiple perspectives to exclusive explanation, [and] dissent to conformity.” For those reasons, “Liberalism is by definition not something one is converted to.”