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Success as moral benchmark


Paul Verhaeghe

In 'Identity' Paul Verhaeghe goes to the heart of the social changes that are responsible for our altered sense of who we are. In essence he is concerned about changes to the way we form an identity, and the norms and values that go along with it, as a consequence of neo-liberalism. Who we are is determined, as ever, by the context in which we live.

The current context insists upon success as a criterion for normality, which means that failure has become a sign of a disorder or sickness. The need to be successful has a dark side; it leads to competitiveness, fear of others and extreme individualization. Human beings have never been so lonely. Building a loving relationship is harder than ever and living a meaningful life beyond the obligation to perform and consume is profoundly problematic.

His argument is lucid, eloquent and compelling, and easy to follow, even for laypersons.
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Based on his clinical experience as a psychotherapist, Verhaeghe shows how our changing society works through into the psychological problems that afflict individuals today.