Review: The Courage to be Disliked by Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga

I must confess that I was drawn to this book by the title – I mean, isn’t this something almost everyone needs, the courage to be disliked? Just the title is somewhat misleading, though. This is really a primer on the psychology of Alfred Adler, written in a dialogue style between the two authors. The dialogue style wasn’t my favorite, and I found myself not being able to relate on many occasions to the conversations they were having.

I also am not a huge fan of Adlerian psychology, although I understand that I probably don’t fully grasp the concepts. For example, Adler believed that there is no such thing as trauma. If I say “I’m traumatized by my dad because he beat me growing up”, Adler would say “no, you don’t want to have a relationship with your dad, so you are creating trauma”. I don’t think he’s saying suffering isn’t real – I think it’s more about taking responsibility for the here and now – but still, I don’t like how it’s framed.

Overall, then, I did not like this book. But the weird thing is that there are several quotes and concepts that really DID resonate with me. For example, he asks the question “whose task is this?” to delineate boundaries. Not really a new concept, but a new way to ask the question “who does this belong to?”. Also, he says that the courage to be free includes the courage to be disliked – meaning that if you don’t have the courage to be disliked, you’ll always be living someone else’s life.

Anyway, if you are a philosophical type who likes really complex discussion and arguments, you might like this book and its format. It’s not one that I’ll be keeping on my shelf, but I’m not sorry I read it!

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