Zia Hassan

Book Review The Courage To Be Disliked

I expected this book to be something like Mark Manson’s The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck. However, it was so much more.

This book, written by Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga, covers Adlerian psychology, which is in some ways opposed to popular Freudian psychology. Of course, one could learn about Adler’s psychology theories from reading his books… but as the author describes, he’s meant to be Adler’s Plato.

Plus, he tells Adler’s story in a compelling way. The entire book reads kind of like a play between two characters (plus a neutral narrator that chimes in occasionally). It’s a conversation between a teacher and one of his students, a young man. Throughout the book they argue about things like…

Trauma, and how it doesn’t exist. Whereas Freud believes that we are who we are because of things that happened in our past, Adler believes that we construct who we are, we choose our lifestyle, and then fill in the details in a narrative. I believe that I’m traumatized by a nasty boss; Adler would tell me that I created the nasty boss narrative as a way of avoiding taking responsibility for whatever my issues were.

He argues that if we judge the value of a human based on their being, rather than their acts, everyone is a contributor, and realizing this creates true and immediate happiness.

At the very end, the “teacher” makes the argument that there is not future or past, and that life is a series of moments that we live in the present. Not too far off from a Zen way of thinking.

They also discussed vertical relationships (where there’s a hierarchy of power) and horizontal relationships (when both people matter just as much). The teacher and the boy start from a vertical relationship and end up in a horizontal one by the end of the book.

I highly recommend it – the audio book kept me totally engaged for a 2 hour car ride.