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4.3 out of 5 stars
552
4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 26 April 2017
Zipped through this book in just a few sittings. Really loved how most of the chapters were rounded off with small universal truths that all of us as readers could probably relate to.

One of the most poignant chapters 'Going back' recounts the author's own reflections of a trip to Hungary with his 80 year old father - a Holocaust survivor. Emptied of the people his father loved, the places visited, were no longer the places his father had known. Makes one question what is home? Why do we remember what we want to remember and forget what we want to forget?

Other stand out chapters for me included 'How a fear of loss can cause us to lose everything', 'on mourning the future' and 'how praise can cause a loss of confidence'. On a personal level, the book was really worth reading for the chapter 'on closure' dealing with bereavement. I wholly agree with the author - "Closure is...delusive. It is the false hope that we can deaden our living grief".

Real life case studies (including recollections of the author's own personal experiences) covering a range of individuals varying in age and socio economic background, made this a fascinating insight into the world of psychoanalysis. Would recommend.
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The psychoanalyst Stephen Grosz gives us very short excerpts of some case histories, each of which is supposed to teach us something about ourselves. The book has had a huge number of five-star reviews, many of them extremely brief and failing to explain just what the reader saw in the book. I cannot quite share their enthusiasm.

Psychoanalytic treatment is a lengthy and searching business, and it makes these snippets, often with an encouraging outcome, seem to me to be too concise. In some of these short chapters Grosz even recounts bits of the stories of two or three of his patients to illustrate a single point. And a few of his examples do not come from his patients, but from situations in novels, or from his father’s traumatic visit to the places in Hungary where he had lived before the Holocaust.

The lessons conveyed by some of these case histories are unexpected: for example, the damage that can be done to a child by the “wrong” kind of praise; or that paranoid feelings may sometimes be a defence against the worse feeling of being ignored.

Others reflect not uncommon experiences: men feeling lonely and excluded after their wives have babies; how children often suffer when the arrival of another baby deflects attention from themselves; how parents sometimes see a child as a problem rather than themselves.

But many of the stories struck me as neither conveying an unexpected insight nor as reflecting the experiences that many of us have: they are about neurotic behaviour that is so strange and so unique to a particular patient that I could draw no general conclusion from them, though they may be interesting in themselves (“there’s nowt so queer as folk”). One or two are moving, like that of the patient afflicted with AIDS who found comfort in spending entire sessions not speaking and even sleeping.

Grosz honestly describes the occasions when he had difficulties in “clicking” with his patients, when he felt at the end of a session that he and the patient have talked around rather than about the problems. He doesn’t use the technical words “transference” and “counter-transference”, but he describes many situations in which they happened. It is astonishing to me how he could tolerate some of the physical manifestations of it – in one case being regularly spat at by a young patient.

Perhaps I was expecting the wrong things from the book – more wise illuminations from a guru about common problems in life than Grosz was trying to offer. Perhaps a more reliable title for the book would have been “Stories from the Consulting Room”.
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on 30 June 2017
Very different to what I expected. This is a book with a lot of cases which are described over one or two pages. It doesnt really teach you anything. Its more of a book to be read as a story than as a self-help book.
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on 28 March 2017
A magnificently framed reflection on years of case notes, carefully ordered to, in their own way tell a story of the human experience. Whether you approve of Psychoanalysis or not, the thoughts and connections made in this book are worth considering. There is no more difficult or important task than knowing oneself.
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on 6 April 2014
This book was recommended via the Perfumed Ladies
Book Group. Wouldn't have read it otherwise. Every chapter gives an insight into my self, your self, ourselves and while I question the need for counselling it was illuminating to read these case histories. I think each chapter, covering a single topic, could be read and thought through and discussed to good effect.
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on 1 January 2017
Wasnt as good as I was expecting, but I suppose it depends on how much you credit psychoanalysis
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on 9 April 2017
Great read. Insightful and quite heavy stuff but it's written really well for your average person to enjoy! I enjoyed it as did my sister and mum!
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on 23 May 2017
Very inspiring and thoughtful book.
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on 12 April 2017
An easy read, not only are the chapters short and engaging but it also covers a range of topics. I took this on holiday with me for a minibreak and it was perfect.
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on 20 May 2017
Absolutely stunning book, ended up buying multiple copies to give as gifts.
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