The author sets out six key elements of the severest desperation that people can experience: rage, panic, violence, hopelessness, and self-destructiveness. The central problem of living, he shows, concerns the need to turn those elements of desperation into their corresponding aspects of vitality. The book sets out six sliding scales that connect craziness with creativity, rage with courage, panic with initiative, and other positive mechanisms that can be harnessed to bring self fulfillment.
With a focus on the fundamental spheres of living: loving, friendship, learning, work, idealism and leisure life, the author makes clear what is the true value that can be gathered in each sphere, what makes things go terribly wrong in each sphere, and how one can deal effectively with such difficulty.
Along the way, he describes and demonstrates how those who would help others can most effectively give them the courage to go ahead and work toward what they want most in life. Personal stories illustrate how rage may be used to fuel courage, panic may generate initiative, and hopelessness can be turned to achievement, bringing a new vitality to life.