Kindle Price: $7.99

Save $14.01 (64%)

These promotions will be applied to this item:

Some promotions may be combined; others are not eligible to be combined with other offers. For details, please see the Terms & Conditions associated with these promotions.

Deliver to your Kindle or other device

Deliver to your Kindle or other device

The Art of Failure: The Anti Self-Help Guide by [Burton, Neel]
Kindle App Ad

The Art of Failure: The Anti Self-Help Guide Kindle Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

See all 4 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
New from Used from
"Please retry"

Navigate global markets with Barron's digital membership. Learn more
click to open popover

Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.

Editorial Reviews


An extraordinarily wide ranging mix of psychology and philosophy covering most of human behaviour from madness to happiness and the meaning of life, and encoutering ghosts and death on the way ... Brilliant. Neel Burton has already won several prizes ... and this volume deserves another. --The British Medical Association

The book's basic premise is that the modern Western definition of success is deeply flawed, presenting us with the false goals of material comfort, fame, power and hedonism. In contrast, Burton argues, Western philosophical and spiritual traditions have largely been in agreement that true happiness lies in accepting 'failure'; that we are limited, mortal, subject to frequent and unforeseen setbacks, in the face of which we do better to develop virtues of honesty, friendship, patience, and moderation. To be fair, this is not perhaps a lesson that the much maligned self-help guides have ignored, but the virtue of Burton's book is that he is not afraid to enter into these topics in more appropriate depth and detail. Throughout, his points are illustrated by recourse to theories, ideas and anecdotes cherry-picked from the lives and writings of the great philosophers [...] Burton also draws on his background in psychology in ranging through contemporary issues in psychiatry as well as the continued relevance of the classic approaches of Freud and Jung. Such discussion is augmented throughout with references to literature, art, religion and history, with the result that Burton's material is always engaging and interesting, presented in an accessible and clear manner. --Gareth Southwell, philosopher and writer

About the Author

Dr Neel Burton, 31, is a psychiatrist and philosopher who lives and teaches in Oxford, England. He is the recipient of the Society of Authors' Richard Asher Prize, the British Medical Association's Young Authors' Award, and the Medical Journalists' Association Open Book Award. His other books include 'The Meaning of Madness' and 'Plato's Shadow', both also with Acheron Press.

Product Details

  • File Size: 677 KB
  • Print Length: 211 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0956035337
  • Publisher: Acheron Press; 1 edition (January 31, 2011)
  • Publication Date: January 31, 2011
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004LROQO4
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #125,029 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
  •  Would you like to give feedback on images or tell us about a lower price?

Customer Reviews

5 star
4 star
3 star
2 star
1 star
See all 8 customer reviews
Share your thoughts with other customers

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I am a young academic suffering my first bout of major depression due to the break up of a long term relationship and a poor career choice. The title of the book drew me in because at this moment I indeed feel like a total "failure". All of the cognative psychology self-help books my therapist recommened I read while battling (or wading) through my depression are simplistic, banal, unintelligent and honestly not worth the paper they were printed on. This book is indeed the anti-self-help book and thank goodness it is. The book itself uses many literary, psychological, and philosophic allusions in its rhetoric and might not be that useful for readers who are not use to prose that is cross disaplinary. I, on another hand,love this book. I bought it for the kindle on my smart phone and spent the entire evening devouring it... I now have some new perspective on my life, when for the past few months I have been waking up every morning literally wishing I was not alive wondering how I had gotten myself into the situation that I am in. This book saved my life, and my therapist is an idiot who gets paid too much.
2 Comments 47 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback
This book is a precursor of sorts to Dr. Burton's recently published "Hide and Seek: The Psychology of Self-Deception." In both books much of the same ground is covered, and indeed there is some repetition; however "The Art of Failure" is more clearly about what to do about the human predicament while "Hide and Seek" is more about laying out what the problem is.

And what is the problem? The problem, as the Buddha expressed it some twenty-five hundred years ago, is that life as it is usually lived is unsatisfactory. Consequently Burton's title is doubly ironic. First, what is called failure is in fact success, and what is "anti self-help" really is self-help.

What I especially like about the way Burton writes is his ability to make his case using evidence and rationale from academic or clinical psychology and from philosophic and religious traditions.

Let's begin with one of the most important ideas in the book:

"As human beings we have a tendency to think of our personhood as something concrete and tangible, something that exists in the `real world' and that extends through time. However, it is possible that our personhood is in fact nothing more than a product of our minds, merely a convenient concept of schema that enables us to relate our present self with our past, future, and conditionals selves, and so to lend to our life a sense of coherence and meaning. This concept or schema amounts to our sense of self, which is the very basis of our ego, and which is, therefore, tantamount to one gigantic ego defence, or the sum total of all our ego defences." (pp.
Read more ›
11 Comments 27 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Art of Failure is an uncommonly valuable book because it pinpoints the faults of contemporary definitions of failure and success, helping readers realign their values to match the things that lead to fundamental happiness. Unfortunately the book is challenging to many of the core beliefs that drive contemporary humans and its conclusions are difficult to implement in proportion to their truth. As such, it appropriately calls itself an 'anti-self help guide' and promises no easy tricks to success among one's peers.

The previous reviewer is correct that the author draws from (primarily though not exclusively Western) philosophy and psychology, but The Art of Failure is in no way a summary or a survey of either of these. The author ties together relevant and interesting philosophical and social theories in a tight arc that clearly leads to a realization of the fuller possibilities attendant to being human, as well as how one can achieve these personally. The examples from psychology and philosophy are not only engrossing for their own sakes but are often remarkably novel repackagings of material from the the intellectually sensitive minds of the past in different and unusual forms. I found that the results not only elucidated the ideas of those psychologists and philosophers but gave them dimensions I had not before realized. On this account alone the book would be worth reading.

By far the book's most important impact is that it speaks to that voice inside that wonders at the end of the day how it has gotten here and whether it needs to be here at all. It rang true for me on this deep level usually reserved for literature and art; if I can implement only some of the conclusions in my life, I will be better for it.
1 Comment 14 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I was quite impressed by this book. It deals with a lot of the same issues as my own "The Minimalist Way: Stress Less, Live More." Where I focus on practical exercises and tips, however, "The Art of Failure" delves deeply into the question "Why don't we do the things we know we ought to do?" It explains how much of our behavior may be bordering on the neurotic and identifies such factors as our fear of death as contributing to inappropriate actions. The author draws on a huge range of historical texts when discussing this matter, which makes the book both entertaining and informative. The material is logically organized and put together in a way that adds to our understanding of our behavior. I highly recommend "The Art of Failure" for anyone who is interested in learning more about how to improve the quality of his or her life.
Comment 4 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

Set up an Amazon Giveaway

The Art of Failure: The Anti Self-Help Guide
Amazon Giveaway allows you to run promotional giveaways in order to create buzz, reward your audience, and attract new followers and customers. Learn more about Amazon Giveaway
This item: The Art of Failure: The Anti Self-Help Guide