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Digital Subscriptions > Prospect Magazine > Mar-18 > Life of the mind

Life of the mind

The “normal” neurosis

The traditional way of writing about patients is to disguise them to the point of unidentifiability, usually by conflation, and then to refer to them as Miss A or Mister B. The background and problems of this essentially non-existent patient will be outlined in incredibly general terms and then the therapist’s most brilliant (and probably equally non-existent) interpretations will be quoted. Following these gems of infinite wisdom, we are told, Miss A and Mister B went on to live marvellously fulfilling lives as a result of their therapist’s unsurpassed excellence. In real life though, patients often get stuck or are extremely hard to reach, so well defended that it can feel as if there really is no way in or, from the patient’s point of view, no way out of the carefully constructed lead sarcophagus.

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In Prospect’s March issue: A series of writers turn their thoughts to the developing war over words in the UK and the US. Lionel Shriver, Afua Hirsch, Simon Lancaster, Hugh Tomlinson, Tom Clark and two students ask if free expression is truly compromised? What’s really going on in our universities? And what do voters think? Elsewhere in the issue: Michael Ignatieff questions why today’s left-wing leaders can’t live up to the high mark set by FDR, Sameer Rahim shows how western powers have been trying to dictate what Islam should be, and Mary Beard asks “How do we look?” as our perceptions of what is beautiful have changes over the centuries.