ENVY AND ORIGINALITY by Adrian van Kaam

ENVY AND ORIGINALITY

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KIRKUS REVIEW

If one has the patience to distill van Kaam's lulling psycho-philosophical analysis of individual and societal ills, one might emerge with a generalized concept of self-motivation and the attitudes that threaten it. Dr. van Kaam, director of the Institute of Man at Duquesne University, opts for the ""unique"" man who respects originality in himself and others. Envy of others is essentially a self-devaluation leading to acute anxiety; and self-envy is the spiteful recognition of ""those exciting underdeveloped lives within me."" He also compares the lot of the ""original"" or contained man with that of the ""impersonal man"" who conforms and adapts easily to public stereotypes and familiar patterns -- in adolescence, times of revolution, everyday existence, etc. In the quest for originality and uniqueness, motivation is essentially ""a lasting, originating self-orientation toward a certain meaning,"" often at war with the ""public reflexes"" of society. Dr. van Kaam's conclusion is less a prescription than a plea for self-dialogue to push toward a state of aware existence which is ""to be in motion, alive and flexible."" Spasmodic insights buried in deadly prose.

Pub Date: Oct. 13th, 1972
Publisher: Doubleday