- Paperback: 240 pages
- Publisher: Vintage (2 Jan. 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0099549034
- ISBN-13: 978-0099549031
- Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.6 x 19.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (493 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,439 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Examined Life: How We Lose and Find Ourselves Paperback – 2 Jan 2014
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More About the Author
For more information please visit www.stephengrosz.com
"I was enthralled… profound and moving, packed large ideas into a slim volume" (Lucy Lethbridge Observer Books of the Year)
"With deceptive simplicity and gentle wisdom, Grosz teases out a lesson or chases down a fugitive insight. I have distrusted psychoanalysis for years, but I would leap onto Grosz’s couch" (James McConnachie The Sunday Times Books of the Year)
"This moving book of patient portraits by the psychoanalyst Stephen Grosz will make the reader think of Freud’s keenly observed and literary-minded case studies. Writing with sympathy and insight, Mr Grosz distils 25 years of work into a series of slim, piercing chapters that read like a combination of Chekhov and Oliver Sacks" (Michiko Kakutani New York Times)
"The success of The Examined Life by the psychoanalyst Stephen Grosz has, I think, relatively little to do with his clinical know-how; it rests, as Freud's did, on his story-telling abilities" (Rachel Cooke Observer)
"Grosz is a superb storyteller and tells lots of his patients' stories with sensitivity, but also with great acuity. You might keep thinking you recognise things about people you know" (William Leith Evening Standard)
Longlisted for the Guardian first book award, a Sunday Times bestseller and Radio 4 Book of the Week. 'Marvellous' (The Times), 'Excellent' (Guardian), 'Completely magical' (Mail on Sunday)See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
Anger, boredom, self-delusion, lying, being stuck, Grosz even shows how boredom is worth thinking about. He draws not just on his patients, but literature too - Scrooge shows us how we can't live a life without loss, a Herman Melville character reveals how `we all have a cheering voice that says "let us start now, right away"' and an opposing, negative voice that responds "I would prefer not to."'
But the real joy of this book is that all this is done with such a light touch. I'd take issue with the other reviewer who suggests we go and read Freud instead - many who are attracted to this book are unlikely to, and that's the very point. It avoids jargon, and in an era when CBT is frequently hailed as The Answer to mental health problems (it's just about the only therapy one can get on the NHS these days, though it's still a postcode lottery), it's a timely reminder not to throw the proverbial baby out with the bathwater. Don't get me wrong, I think CBT can be invaluable tool, but let's remember looking at our entrenched patterns can help patients who suffer too. To have made complex theories accessible to a mainstream audience is a fine achievement, and to Mr Grosz I'd like to say: THANK YOU.
Each account is gripping in its own right and each gives an insight into human nature and the sometimes obscure reasons which may cause it. As you read, you will recognise the behaviour of friends, colleagues and loved ones of your own and start pondering just what makes them tick... Whether you are a champion of Freudian psychoanalysis or not, there is plenty to enjoy in this book because the stories are well told and intriguing. Whether you agree with the author's reading of the situation is of course open to debate but nevertheless it will get you thinking, and that cannot be bad. I found this to be an absorbing and entertaining read and one that I would highly recommend.
However, I do also appreciate that these are real people and as such they are not fictional short stories with neat endings. Additionally, I also know that whilst some patients return to therapy with further problems later in the transit of their lives, some do not and the series of sessions during a current issue is sometimes all that the analyst gets chance to work on/with the patient.
The only chapter I had any concerns about was the one associated with closure. I completely agree that dealing with death does not in any way have neat endings either, but I do sometimes think that with counselling or analysis or any kind of talking therapy, the patient can gain insights into their grief, especially if the person who died was someone with whom the patient had a particularly difficult relationship. Then, as a result of those insights, they are able to find the bereavement process slightly easier.
However, I do think closure is more useful as a concept when people are recovering from serious assaults etc rather than for bereavement so in this respect agree with the author.
I was really glad I had read this book and would recommend it to anyone for the author's insights and honesty - the chapter with his father moved me very deeply. It is one of those few books I've read where I felt I wanted to talk to the author afterwards !
The book is very interesting, being a kind of "short story anthology" where each story, based on a real-life encounter, is from a patient-psychoanalyst session. What is revealed is almost always fascinating and allows us to think very deeply about your own ways of living and thinking. His psychoanalytical "expert" insights become ways for us, too, to develop perceptive insights into our own mind and existence. In that, I think, lies the reason for its success. I prefer to read fiction myself, as a way of exploring the inner mind; but I still thoroughly enjoyed this "non-fiction" account. A reviewer here has written that she prefers this to fiction because "you know these stories are true". Well, that isn't how I read this book, or how I read fiction as both allow us to reflect and consider on another's views.
A highly recommended and excellent "read" (or in this case, "listen"!).
Most Recent Customer Reviews
What a great book! 1st I downloaded it onto Kindle. And, 2nd I bought it for a friend! Great, I loved the way he helped so many people.Published 5 hours ago by Gwyneth Jones
This short book is not for the voyager seeking answers to the absurdity of life. For that read the 22 comments provoked by Katy THOMAS’s 5 star review. Read morePublished 6 days ago by Adrian Maxwell
I was in the mood for a non fiction read when I spotted this book. I have the average lay person's interest in psychology and decided to give it a try but was almost put off when I... Read morePublished 8 days ago by Trish23
I expected this to be more than just a selection of assorted anecdotes; and not particularly original ones at that. Perhaps I was lured by the promise of the title. Read morePublished 20 days ago by K. Willis
The first thing is that psychoanalysis is full of very complex theory, so if that's what you're looking for then this book isn't for you - better to read Freud, Klein etc or... Read morePublished 22 days ago by Amazon Customer
Great short anecdotal stories around people understanding the problems in their lives and relationships. Easy to read.Published 28 days ago by Pierre