The war over private life spreads inexorably. Some seek to expose, invade and steal it, others to protect, conceal and withhold it. But what if what we call ‘private life’ is the one element in us that we can’t possess? Could it be that we’re so intent on taking hold of the privacy of others or keeping hold of our own only because we’re powerless to do either? Cohen is a psychoanalyst and professor of literature.