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If the truth be known, I am only a partially reformed idealist. In the secret depths of my soul, I still wish to make the world a better place and sometimes fantasize about heroically eradicating its faults. When I encounter its limitations, it is consequently with deep regret and continued surprise. How, I ask myself, is it possible that that which seems so fight can be a chimera? And why, I wonder, aren't people as courageous, smart, or nice as I would like? The pain of realizing these things is sometimes so intense that I want to close my eyes and lose myself in the kinds of daydreams that comforted me as a youngster. One thing is clear, my need to come to grips with my idealism had its origin in a lifetime of naivet6. From the beginning, I wanted to be a "good" person. Often when life was most treacherous, I retreated into a comer from whence I escaped into reveries of moral glory. When I was very young, my faith was in religion. In Hebrew school, I took my lessons seriously and tried to apply them at home. By my teen years, this had been replaced by an allegiance to socialism. In the Brooklyn where I grew up, my teachers and relatives made this seem the natural course. When I reached my twenties, however, and was obliged to confront a series of personal deficiencies, psychotherapy shouldered its way to the fore.
Preface. I. Idealism on Trial. II. In the Name of Morality. III. Messianic Stickball. IV. Dreams or Nightmares. V. Extreme I: Radical Feminism. VI. Extreme II: Radical Civil Rights. VII. Extreme III: Radical Medicalism. VIII. Luminosity Blindness. IX. No Respect. Bibliography.