In this perceptive series of lectures Doris Lessing explores the strange phenomenon that although, today, we know a lot more about ourselves very little of this knowledge has been put into practical effect. Why is it that human beings continue to make the same mistakes?
A fascinating combination of 'the soft sciences' - i.e. sociology, psychology, anthropology - and hard fact is used to address such topics as brainwashing, group mentality and the awesome power of words. There is nothing dauntingly academic or esoteric in these discussions: events from history, recent politics and personal experience - Stalinism, the miners' strike, the Saatchi & Saatchi Tory advertising campaign and her reception in the literary world as Jane Somers - enable Lessing to write accessibly and lucidly about these concepts.
This original and important work underlines the necessity to retain an independent frame of mind, to fight received opinion and to resist the general drift into apathy. The freedom of the individual is vital to democracy because it is only by permitting individuals to question and disagree that tyranny and ignorance will be defeated. TI is essential that we examine 'ideas, from whatever source they come, to see how they may usefully contribute to our lives and to the societies we live in.'
Prisons We Choose to Live Inside is the title of a series of five lectures given by Doris Lessing under the auspices of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in 1985.