'We live in an extremely controlling society in which authority has disappeared ...traditional authority is lapsing into brute force ...and we ourselves must take the first steps towards creating a new social order.' This was the trenchant diagnosis by Paul Verhaeghe at the end of his acclaimed book about identity, What About Me? Now he returns to investigate another aspect of our lives under threat: authority. In Says Who?, Verhaeghe examines how authority functions and why we need it in order to develop healthy psyches and strong societies. Going against the laissez-faire ethics of a free-market age, he argues that rather than seeing authority as a source of oppression we should invest in developing it in the places that matter. Only by strengthening the power of horizontal groups within existing social structures, such as in education, the economy, and the political system, can we restore authority to its rightful place. Whether you are a parent or child, teacher or student, employer or employee, Says Who? provides the answers you need.
Paul Verhaeghe is professor of clinical psychology and psychoanalysis at the University of Ghent in Belgium, and is also in private practice. He is the author of Narcissus in Mourning, Love in a Time of Loneliness, and What about Me?: the struggle for identity in a marked-based society. David Shaw works as a journalist for Germany's international broadcaster, Deutsche Welle, as well as translating from several languages, including German, Dutch, Russian, and French. He lives in Berlin.