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Contemporary Psychoanalysis and Eastern Thought (Suny Series, Alternatives in Psychology) Paperback – 10 Aug 1993


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Review

Suler provides the most extensive treatment of correspondences between Western psychology and Eastern disciplines that I have yet seen, at the same time noting important differences and ways in which the two bodies of thought and practice can usefully complement each other. Richard Coan, University of Arizona"

About the Author

John R. Suler is Professor of Psychology at Rider College and is in private practice as well.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x8baebd08) out of 5 stars 4 reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8ba31948) out of 5 stars A stimulating book on psychoanalysis, the Eastern style 23 Mar. 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
As an Asian clinical psychology student interested in integrating psychoanalytic concepts and buddhist virtues in conducting psychotherapy and as an existential philosophy, I find this book a precious rarity. The author was insightful about how Eastern/Buddhist philosophy might be misused or misinterpreted by some as a way to justify their personality pathology. He also illuminated how Eastern thoughts and martial arts can be blended into psychotherapeutic work so that both psychological healing and spiritual transformations can occur.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8d6c1cd8) out of 5 stars Suler's perspective is cutting edge. 28 Aug. 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I learned a great deal from Contemporary Psychoanalysis and Eastern Thought. The book is sophisticated, solid, and full of rich insights. Suler knows psychoanalytic theory extremely well, and he has a gift for cross-cultural interpretation. Psychoanalysts unreceptive to Eastern ideas, students of Eastern thought unversed in psychoanalysis, and all serious students of transpersonal psychology should read Suler's book. It is a substantial work of scholarship and an admirable example of cross-cultural dialogue.

by Michael Washburn, for the Transpersonal Review, edited by Mark Robert Waldman
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8d8edf3c) out of 5 stars Innovative/creative/synergistic integration of E & W 3 Nov. 2005
By Neal J. Pollock - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is a fine book relating psychoanalysis (PA), including Self Psychology, Object Relations, Freud, & Jung to Zen Buddhism, Taoism, & the martial arts (including archery & Sun Tzu). Suler creates a multi-perspective collage, while avoiding both Euro & Orientocentrism. He notes differences & similarities between Eastern approaches & PA--p. 14: "Without comparing apples & oranges, without exploring their complementarity, how would we even arrive at the concept of `fruit'? Exploring the ways in which two things are both the same & different is the only means by which we arrive at a higher-order concept that integrates the two." However, he also points out that even together they are imperfect-e.g. p. 23: "Both PA & Zen have brandished their own version of infantile grandiosity." He delves into "maladaptive personality structures that may incline a person toward Eastern thought" & p. 153: "deficiencies in the cross-cultural interface" i.e. Eastern masters' scandals. Yet, p. 101: "spiritual growth must entail psychological processes," & p. 137: "perhaps by holding "objective" investigations in one hand & "subjective" insights in the other, we will walk with greater balance toward the higher knowledge that transcends such distinction." Thus, he avoids both East & West extremes-- p. 104: "The cherished sutras of Buddhism...are the entombed words of the Buddha that point to the truth but must not be mistaken for it...they are only a finger pointing to the moon (no-self) & not the moon itself" & p. 262: "PA may sometimes hold too tight to its theories while venturing into fundamental, unavoidable dimensions of human experience." Rather, he stresses synergistic gains from their integration, predicting that p. 263: "Eastern & Western disciplines will be complementary explorers of human nature & complementary healers of human suffering." Included are chapters on the martial arts (including archery & Sun Tzu), paradox, Tai Chi, the vision quest, etc. in which he provides numerous parallels to PA, Zen, & Taoism as well as anecdotal case information. [I'd also recommend Robert Moore/Doug Gillette's "Warrior Within." His perceptive, integrative insights include:

p. 72: "Perhaps different types of pathology may be understood as different disturbances in the interpenetration of self & non-self."

p. 105: "Silence amputates the linguistic/conceptual love of selfhood & leaves it to wither & die."

p. 203-4: "Once clinicians have passed the initial phases of molding the techniques & theories according to their own personality structure; they learn how to use themselves, their own intra-psychic dynamics & subjective meanings, as the agents of psychotherapeutic change...the art of psychotherapy becomes an expression of self." This book is well worth reading.
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8ca3cd5c) out of 5 stars a marvelous contribution to a dangerous subject 17 Nov. 2003
By Brian Donohue - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Suler successfully enters and explores an area as fraught with the danger of simplification and distortion as the seemingly ubiquitous published tirades equating (take your pick) Tibetan Buddhism, Zen, Taoism, other esoterica...with quantum physics and relativity theory. Suler's perspective on psychoanalysis alone is worth the price of the book and the time in reading it: his ability to cut through the ridigities of orthodoxy in his field is truly admirable, and his public advocacy for freely allowing Eastern and Western perspectives and practices to coalesce without however projecting on either any primacy or territorial dominion--as evidenced in his own teaching work, summarized at his website ([...]) is itself a true expression of his understanding of Tao.
Whether or not you practice psychotherapy or counseling, this is a worthy and finely written book, which deserves a much larger audience than it probably is getting.
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