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The Minimal Self: Psychic Survival in Troubled Times Paperback – October 17, 1985


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (October 17, 1985)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393302636
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393302639
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.6 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #607,933 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Christopher Lasch (1932–1994) was also the author of The True and Only Heaven, The Revolt of the Elites and the Betrayal of Democracy, and other books.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

52 of 57 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 8, 2003
Format: Paperback
Lasch has a great intellect: he's read deeply and though he's strong-minded, he's also compassionate. Here he examines faulty ideas, often finding the grain of truth that's given them wing. In THE MINIMAL SELF, still deeply relevant to our times, he explains two urges in light of man's destructiveness and our lack of faith in a future: a regressive, narcissistic wish to merge with the environment, in a timeless solipsism that negates the past and the present; or else, a strict adherence to rules and regulations that demand obedience by threat of punishment and retribution, and which harken back to false nostalgia for a simpler past.
Lasch shows us that it's much more complicated than that: that our obsession with survival, our lack of faith in language to communicate commonalities (and its exploitation not just by the media but by activists trying to counter the media's insidious influence), and our confusion about how to structure, or de-structure (destroy) our lives leads us back to Freud, back to humility, and back to separation, away from narcissistic fantasies of either merger or omnipotence.
In brilliant, thoughtful, complex prose, Lasch argues for an enlightened dependence, a reliance on the cultural sphere to give meaning to our inner drives and our recognition of the objective outside world, and thoughtfulness and sobriety in place of infantilism and fantasy. Lasch argues for mature play, and his is a convincing argument.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful By M. McKasson Morgan on July 1, 2009
Format: Paperback
The book is disturbing and insightful. Though written in the 80s, this social/psychological/political/aesthetic critique describes today's disconnect between self and society: the lack of humanisitic glue; the sad (and secret) nihilism of religions that can no longer keep the genie of destruction corked up; the merging of mass culture with mass destruction. Just as it must've been two decades ago, the book is an amazing wake up call. My copy, however, was in poor shape. The binding is upside down and the pages are falling out.
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25 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Frank Werner on January 19, 2002
Format: Paperback
This book written back the middle of the 1980s is another one of a series of pessimistic,broad-reaching cultural studies written by Christopher Lasch. It is a follow-up to the more well known and influential work "The Culture of Narcissism".Mr. Lasch describes the emptiness and bleakness that he sees as a hallmark feature of the arts, of politics and society in thelate 20th century. Although one could disagree with his opinions, I think that this a well written indictment of modern times.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Phyllis Antebi Ph.D on March 31, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Whatever we can say about narcissism we can say about Lasch's book, "The Minimal Self". It is willful, it is rash, and it is almost too unbelievable to be true. Are we really destined to sink like the Titanic? That is, to drown in our own glory! " This book suggests that as a culture we are headed toward the point of no return. Put simply, unless we are strategists in the name of survival, we will be left to sow only what we have reaped. We as a culture, have become infantile, childish, adults who like Peter Pan, "Just won't grow up". Lasch suggests that a paradigm shift away from merger fantasies could help us to individuate more as moral agents and less as consumers of mass culture. Individuation and radical self awareness are not new themes, but in this book the concepts are so complex and conceptually abstract, that many readers will find Lasch's argument difficult to follow. He uses language that is quite technical and specialized.
On the flip side of this coin is the existential message of, "The Minimal Self". The message is that personal accountability is not synonymous with utilitarian morality. Implicit in Lasch's book, , is the belief that secular societies breed discontent.
Actually, Lasch''s message, put simply, is that we are becoming more and more a culture which breeds and fosters narcissistic psychopathology. However correct, as a theme, this idea is not that new. While I agree with the message, the vehicle itself is difficult to get through. I am,therefore,recommending two other books on the topic of narcissism. The firsts published in 2007, is written by Paul Smith. It is titled: "Primitive America:The Ideology of Capitalist Democracy". The second recommendation, written in 2009, is titled:"The Narcissism Epidemic:Living in an Age of Entitlement".
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By ruza on June 18, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Excellent writer. The narcissism of a modern society is indeed a quite issue. Truly an inspirational reading! I warmly recommend the book!
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