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Every day, we are told that balance is a good thing. We are supposed to make balanced judgments, balance our budget, and preserve a balance of power in our government. Disturbed people are described as unbalanced. In this insightful, charming book, the philosopher and psychoanalyst Adam Phillips looks afresh at balance (and its shadow, excess) and asks if achieving the former is such an admirable goal. From this perspective, Phillips examines the explosive topics of money, sex, parenthood, faith, and education. In his exhilarating and casually brilliant explorations of case studies, fairy tales, works of art, and literature, the paradoxes inherent in our appetites and fears are revealed.