Book review: 『嫌われる勇気』 by Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga

Introduction

Title: 『嫌われる勇気』 (きらわれるゆうき)
Authors: Ichiro KISHIMI (岸見一郎) and Fumitake KOGA (古賀史健)
Published by ダイヤモンド社
294 pages

This book is a huge best-seller in Japan, and I bought it mainly out of curiosity. Ichiro Kishimi is a philosopher who has researched, translated, written or given lectures about Alfred Adler at numerous occasions. Fumitake Koga is an author who has been greatly inspired by Adlerian psychology and has had several conversations with Kishimi on Adler’s theories.

Review

First of all, let me say that I was very surprised by this book, I did not expect it to be so good and have such solid content. I am not a big reader of self-help books, and while I do enjoy reading about productivity from time to time, I usually stay away from psychology. I thought that 『嫌われる勇気』 would be a collection of superficial thoughts about accepting oneself and how to find happiness, so I was very surprised by the depth of the book.

I didn’t know much about the psychology of Alfred Adler before and to be honest, this is not a topic that interests me. I remember studying a little bit of Freud at school, but it was not for me. After reading the book, I did try to read what I could find on Internet about Adler’s theories, but I found it annoying and just could not find any interest in what I was reading. So why was 『嫌われる勇気』 so engrossing?

The only answer I can find is that the authors did a remarkably good job at synthetizing and relaying Adler psychology in a way that is accessible and feels extremely concrete. What you read are not psychological concepts, but rather concrete examples of how this works, and how you can change the way you see things in order to free yourself from restraining beliefs.

The book adopts the form of a conversation between a sceptical young man and a philosopher. I was afraid that the conversation would simply be the philosopher talking and talking with occasional interjections by the sceptical interlocutor, but there is an excellent balance between the two fictional characters.

Overall, I am impressed by how the book manages to have such a deep content and to be so easy to read and so accessible. I do feel that I need to re-read it to get the most out of it, or that I should have taken notes along the way. I feel that this is not the book that will “change your life” after reading, but a book that requires some work on your part, if you really want to apply it to your life. Personally, as I said, this is not my usual type of read, and I am not very interested in psychology, so while I found this to be a good book, I don’t think that I am ready for a second read.

Overall, I loved reading this book, and I found that a lot of its content was interesting and worth thinking about. However, I am not that interested in applying it to myself, so this book did not “change my life”, but I did learn a lot about Adlerian psychology.

English translation: The book has been translated into English under the title The Courage to be Disliked, but I could not find the name of the translator(s) anywhere on the Internet. I downloaded the sample on my Kindle, but no translators there either. They mention the name of some agencies, but I don’t know if they are related to translation or not. Very frustrating…

Audiobook: There is an audio version of the book available on audiobook.jp.