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109 of 116 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Elegantly written, pithy and thought provoking - a total joy
Distilling decades of therapeutic work into a slim volume that reads like a collection of short stories, Grosz offers an intriguing insight into contemporary psychoanalysis. A married father-of-four announces that he is thinking of coming out, aged 71, while a woman who has just celebrated her 50th birthday realises a sexy dream that bothered her was about her son...
Published on 27 Feb. 2013 by Sarah Rayner

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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Lightweight read does not live up to promise of title
Case studies and biographical accounts can be rich reading experiences but this compendium of short selections was very disappointing. The accounts are too short and the anonymised characterisations too generic to amount to much beyond a series of anecdotes. Searching analysis and interpretation is not what you will find here. The sections hardly amount to 'examined...
Published on 7 Mar. 2013 by Jan Primrose


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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Lightweight read does not live up to promise of title, 7 Mar. 2013
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Case studies and biographical accounts can be rich reading experiences but this compendium of short selections was very disappointing. The accounts are too short and the anonymised characterisations too generic to amount to much beyond a series of anecdotes. Searching analysis and interpretation is not what you will find here. The sections hardly amount to 'examined lives' and this is an easy and undemanding (also superficial and unsatisfying) read for the most part.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For any one fascinated by people, 28 Jan. 2013
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markr - See all my reviews
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I enjoyed this book very much. The author, a psychoanalyst, writes with empathy of a wide variety of patients who he has worked with over a 25 year period. The case studies, and there are over 30 of them described in a short chapter for each , are in the main about people with everyday problems that they are trying to deal with with varying degrees of success. The beauty of the book is in the ordinariness of many of the the patients' problems. You may, like me, encounter someone rather like yourself, and you are almost certain to encounter people who remind you of someone you know. The author is open about his own experiences in both his private and professional life - his successes and failures, and his own reactions to some of the more difficult situations which he faced.

This is a very humane book, full of insight, and very readable. It is quite short and flows well and I was rather sorry when I finished it in just a few sittings . If you find people fascinating there is much here to make you think, and to recognise.

Recommended
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So that the healthy can remain healthy., 29 Oct. 2013
A psychoanalytic who clearly loves his job. I listened to the audio version of this great little gem of a book which is filled with a great many insights into the inner working of the human being, its most basic fears and the many strategies devised to deal with a very complex life surrounding each and every one of us. I loved the Freudian method of discerning behaviours and conclusions based on dreams. There is something for every reader to take away from this gemstone, although in real life we shall probably come across very mild versions of the example symptoms listed in the book. But here is where what makes this book so great, it has managed to present the very clinical complicated human paranoia as analogies which most non-patients (so called healthy) can use in their every day life. I think its the author's gift to the healthy so that they remain healthy.
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39 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't let the lack of empathy from others, get hold of you., 8 Jan. 2013
By 
Zuhamy Colton (London, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
Reading this book has helped me understand me and in turn understand others. This may not happen to you admittedly but, I believe there would be a few readers that do change as a result of reading it. I hope that is you.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Looking in the mirror, 11 Feb. 2013
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This is a gem of a book whose facets sparkle with wit and intelligence. Stephen Grosz has the ability to condense months or years of psychoanalysis into a few pertinent pages of text, whose last paragraph leaves you questioning your own position for hours or even days afterwards. He has a similar gift to that of John Berger for isolating the significant and expressing it with aphorisms.
One of the most compelling aspects of the text is the way in which the author analyses not just his client but his relationship with her, searching for that understanding which will enable them to untie the knot which brought them together.
His engagement with anyone who talks to him, even sitting on an aeroplane, is heartwarming in its generosity of spirit and its belief that 'things' can improve.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A thought-provoking, life-affirming read., 7 Mar. 2013
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This book is a distillation of the stories of a wide range of people who have come to a point of transition in their lives. The stories are told in a personal tone with some insightful but never intrusive conclusions from the psychoanalyst, Stephen Grosz. I particularly liked the way Grosz meets every patient and story on a footing of equality; his humility is genuine and wonderful. Perhaps his own life is, through the lives of others, the one that has to be most closely examined, but as a reader, I found that I was inevitably examining my own life through the prism of these stories and reflections. Grosz keeps mercifully free of jargon and mysticism, holding up a compassionate mirror to our lives. I highly recommend this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Transfixing!, 24 May 2013
The title of this book makes it sound airy fairy and as if it is about to tell you how to go find yourself, but airy fairy does not come into it. If you want a transfixing read that excites you about the human psyche then you need to read this.

I am not a psychology professional but this makes me want to be. Every chapter is a case study of a client that Grosz psychoanalyzes and he describes each one with genuine empathy and modest intelligence.

As you understand each client you can't help relating their traits and situations to those of yourself and others, which makes reading this book a truly therapeutic experience. If you like twists, this is full of them. I can't recommend it enough!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All human life is here - and the importance of another person's presence, 18 Mar. 2014
By 
TGW Page "TGWP" (Holywood, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Examined Life (Audio CD)
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This is a great book to listen to on audio. Psychoanalyst Stephen Grosz has over 50,000 hours of experience of working with clients in both public and private spheres.

I can't agree with the reviewer who bemoans the shallow nature of the content - many deep aspects of human experience - suffering, endurance, courage, interior complexes - are touched on. Through referring to other authors, this book enables the reader to research other areas of interest.

A central quote for me was Karen Blixen "All sorrows can be borne if you put them into a story or tell a story about them", and the related idea that a fundamental human need is to realise that at least one other human being holds some understanding of your story in their head or heart. There is a particularly powerful story illustrating this on disk 5 about Thomas, a deeply troubled nine year old.

While the introduction to this book mentioned a classical psychotherapy consulting room and `couch', the essence of these encounters goes beyond a narrow set of psychoanalytic parent/infant `complexes'. Rather, the approach is more about the presence of another person alongside the `patient' as they work through their life experience, puzzling behaviours and sometimes troubling dreams towards some resolution.

I liked both the author's openness about the inevitable mistakes / mis-readings during his career, and his confidence in basically trashing tidy one-size-fits-all models - he demolishes the superficial application by some enthusiasts of Kubler-Ross' five step model to the lifelong task of grieving loss.

Difficult to do this book justice in a review - if you are interested in the puzzles of human behaviour you encounter through life, and within yourself, there is consolation here, hope, and pointers to possibly helpful resources.

The audiobook reader, Peter Marinker, does a good job reflecting the variety of themes, moods and voices in the book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Food for thought, 27 Dec. 2013
By 
Didier (Ghent, Belgium) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
I ordered this book based upon the very good reviews it received here and elsewhere but once it had arrived it sat on my bookshelves for quite a while before I started reading it, and now, having finished it, I wonder if I shouldn't have left it there a little while longer. Maybe I wasn't ready for it? Maybe I should have read it when I was in a different mood (my mood being at the time one of near exhaustion) and less stressed myself? Assuredly, it is written in an easy-to-read and lucid style, and the stories related here of diverse patients of Stephen Grosz are in themselves very gripping: stories about the loss and sadness that life (inevitably?) entails, and not for all of these anonymous people that once lay on Grosz's couch unburdening their weary souls was there 'closure'. If only for this, the book is definitely worthwhile the read, as it is at the least a sobering and in some cases even a shocking experience to read how much pain life at times doles out.

At the same time (and therefore only 4 stars), the further I got into the book the more I began to realize that one has to 'believe' (so to speak) in the validity and healing powers of psychoanalysis. If, for instance, you're not convinced that every dream you have is brimming with messages from your sub-conscious (of which I personally am not), well, then some of the stories related here might seem sheer nonsense I presume. Be that as it may, I'm sure that there are far worse couches to lie on than the one in Grosz's rooms, as he seems a truly empathic and good person and - perhaps the key issue - a good listener.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What we hide even from ourselves, 17 July 2013
By 
Four Violets (Hertford UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Examined Life (Audio CD)
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Stephen Grosz has spent countless hours over 25 years listening to patients lying on a couch in his consulting room, pouring out their stories, problems and dreams to him. He could see one adult 4-5 times a week over many years. Grosz listens, sometimes to silence, and reflects back his interpretation of what he thinks is troubling them, so that they can understand more of what is adversely affecting them in their lives. Grosz is sometimes brutally honest, confessing that sometimes he feels rage at patients - such as the young boy who constantly spits in his face - boredom with those who use non-stop pointless talking instead of opening up - or sexual attraction to a young female patient. There are patients he feels he mis-diagnosed, those who died (for example of AIDS), and those who have faced the most dreadful crises that life can present us with. Very often it is the patient's past, especially their relationship with their parents, that sheds light on how they react and behave in the present. I made notes while listening to every story on all 6 discs, and find the most astonishing array and cross section of human anguish, trauma and hidden secrets when I read back.

Some of the dream analysis I found puzzling, as surely the interpretation of a dream is so subjective although some of them were signposted so clearly they didn't require interpreting. Also the suggestion as to the memories and thoughts and actions confessed by the patient and how they are interpreted - sometimes I felt they were manipulated rather to explain a current situation eg a man who visits prostitutes "just for talk" is apparently doing so as an act of revenge to his wife because she pays attention too much attention to the baby. There is a heavy emphasis on Freudian analysis, for example the man who kept losing things after being promoted was apparently feeling safer as a loser than as a winner.

What comes across is the value the patients found in being listened to and focussed on by another human being, and thereby somehow validated, heard and an attempt made at understanding, how "our story tells us" and how trauma can take hold of us in the absence of another's empathy. Some of the chapters will speak more to some than to others, I found Chapter Four, "The Gift of Pain," Chapter Seven "On Not Being in a Couple," and Chapter 17 "How Lovesickness Keeps Us From Love" particularly poignant.
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The Examined Life: How We Lose and Find Ourselves
The Examined Life: How We Lose and Find Ourselves by Stephen Grosz (Paperback - 2 Jan. 2014)
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