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A Life of One's Own [Paperback]

Joanna Field , Marion Milner
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Book Description

18 Sep 1986
How often do we ask ourselves "What will make me happy?" and "What do I really want from life?". The author of this text, first published in 1934 under the pseudonym Joanna Field, set out to answer these questions. Using her own diaries, she surmized her findings in terms of "psychic bisexuality".

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Product details

  • Paperback: 226 pages
  • Publisher: Virago Press Ltd; New edition edition (18 Sep 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0860688216
  • ISBN-13: 978-0860688211
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 20 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 546,706 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'Watchful, intricate, brave and meticulously honest ... remarkable' -- JANE MILLER, NEW STATESMAN

About the Author

Marion Milner (1900-1998) was a distinguished British psychoanalyst, educationalist, autobiographer and artist.

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
44 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential discoveries about "moments of being" 1 Feb 2000
By A Customer
I stumbled upon this book by accident and find it is one I reach for again and again. It gets deeper and more significant with each reading.
Marion Milner records, in explicit detail, the findings from her attempt to hold a mirror up to her own mind as she searches for happiness. She explains how she first expected her happiness to come from "being a good person" or from "doing rewarding things with one's life". Instead she comes gradually to the discovery that the deepest, truest moments of happiness are in those unallocated times, in the spaces between actions or thoughts.
With a scientist's empirical compulsion she sets out to watch her mind in various states. Painstakingly honest and accurate, Milner's account of her inner journey makes for fascinating reading
This is an extraordinary book and her conclusions line up with a sort of secular Buddhism with meditation practise at the heart.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reflections and insights on how to be happy 27 Mar 2007
Long before the current trend in 'how to achieve happiness' books, the analyst Marion Milner (Joanna Field) began her own personal investigation into what made her happy. She noticed, for example, that on some days, it was enough for her to simply notice the reflections of light on the surface of her bathwater in order for her to be filled with bliss; while on toher days nothing at all could make her happy.

This is the record of her seven-year exploration of happiness, during which she observes: `I found that there were different ways of perceiving and that the different ways provided me with different facts. There was a narrow focus which meant seeing life as if from blinkers and with the centre of my awareness in my head; and there was a wide focus which meant knowing with the whole of my body, a way of looking which quite altered my perception of whatever I saw' (15).

Milner's careful inquiry into the small movements of her mind, her concept of 'wide attention' - a way of experiencing that is expansive and embodied rather than narrow and fixed - and her description of 'that fat feeling' which comes with being at ease with ourselves and the world, once we have learned to relinquish more habitual styles of reaching and trying, has had a profound effect on my thinking and my work with my clients.

As other reviewers have commented, I find myself returning to this book, again and again.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I observe myself.....and it helps 4 Sep 2006
I love this book and I usually read it every decade to get myself back on track. It is a fantastically honest account of the author's attempt to overcome her habitual way of thinking, which she gives examples of, and to experience the world (art, music, landscape etc.) to the full. She chronicles her own observations of her own mind (sometimes familiarly petty)and reveals the little tricks she learnt, which enabled her a measure of control over her way of thinking. It is the story of the big self learning to shepherd the little self, towards a more fulfilling and pleasurable life. There's no jargon, no mystique, just good honest common-sense. It is a triumph of practical intelligence and still a valid insight into the human condition, over seventy years after its first publication.
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