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Houdini's Box: The Art of Escape





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About the book:

Houdinis 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 Phillipss 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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