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on 25 May 2017
Read this and then immediately re-read it. It makes so much sense
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on 22 December 2009
Another gem from James Hollis. A "must read" for therapists or anyone wishing to understand mid-life transition, wish fresh thinking provided by the author. I have only one small criticism in that it would have been a more complete volume if this stage of life had been articulated further in terms of the "whole life project", and perhaps drawing on the archetypes that surface and wane as we follow our path of individuation. Otherwise, faultless. One the best writers on Jungian Analysis in my view. A beautifully written, clear and concise volume from an excellent series.
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on 29 September 2012
An absolute gem of a book - a real life saver. I lost track of the number of times I thought 'Oh my god, this man understands exactly what I have been feeling and going through!' A book full of wisdon, compassion, understanding and explanation about the unconscious processes that well up into our lives in midlife, often with such devastating and disorientating force. It's hard to imagine not benefiting from reading this book if lost in mid life - for me it was like a kind, wise man sitting down with me, calling me to wake up, explaining what was happening, and pointing to the way out. And re-reading it I never fail to learn something new. It should be behind glass on the wall in all homes, perhaps beside the fire-extinguisher, with the notice "In case of emergency, break glass here". Even better, perhaps one day in a wiser, more mature society men and women will be taught in advance what to expect in mid life and so find the process of the middle passage less painful and disorientating. I can't recommend the book highly enough.
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VINE VOICEon 6 May 2012
I wish I'd read this book before having a mid-life crisis, it would have explained so much. The trouble is that no one ever reads books like these before the worst has happened. Maybe doctors should give us a copy on our 49th birthday with the warning 'Keep it safe - you'll be needing this before too long.' This would save a lot of heartache and a great deal of money.

Unfortunately doctors don't do that, so misguided idiots desperately try to recapture their lost youth by embarking on affairs, getting divorced, buying sports cars and having plastic surgery. This book is certainly worth reading before you resort to all that and is considerably cheaper. If it fails to prevent your life imploding, at least you'll have the satisfaction of knowing why it's happening.
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on 27 August 2014
Thin book but very, very thought provoking. I'm not a psychologist or well read in the subject but picked this book up on someone else's recommendation. I'm of a certain age and pondering a lot of things over this last year. If you're expecting a self help with a step by step 'how to' guiide - you'll be disappointed but if you want something that makes you think about your feelings / life / where you are going and why then this is it. I've read it in several snippets throughout the past few days and have still not processed it all yet. For Hollis the midddle passage is all about 'becoming' the person you need to be for you and not for anyone else- and not feeling guilty over that growth. Affirming the midlife 'crisis', Hollis sees it as an opportunity for growth. Well written without too much psychological 'jargon' but its a book that needs you to be focused on it while reading.
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on 26 June 2017
Extraordinarily insightful. A jewel. I highly recommend it to all those who get to mid life feeling suddenly unfulfilled, lost, dissatisfied, disappointed and perhaps with an unsettling lack of purpose and direction. If this sounds familiar and you are currently wondering what is happening and whether life will recuperare meaning again, this book will offer you knowledge, insight and focus to do just that and will help you understand the transition from anxiety and disillusionment to a reassured, calmed and mature fulfilling future.
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on 8 August 2004
I have always been interested in the theories of Carl Jung, yet often found the contemporary texts written by or about him somewhat heavy going as a read. Hollis makes the teachings of Jung much more accessable in this book, drawing upon references to contemporary literature and art to illustrate his points, i found this book fascinating from both a psychological and literary perspective.
The middle passage, more commonly referred to as 'the mid life crisis' (not exclusive to men and can happen anywhewhere from early 30's to late 50's) is a period in our personal evolution we all go through, when the methods and strategies learnt in childhood suddenly become irrelevant to the life we want to live, we have to start over, to find ourselves anew. The process of shedding our skin is often a painful and labourious time, Hollis brings the meaning to this period of misery. Helping us to understand the necessity and inevitability of these growing pains and the meaning that underlies them.
At a time in my life when all i could feel was the pain, Hollis landed in my lap, held my hand and reassured me that what i was going through was a normal part of human development and not the end of the world. What a relief!
I intend to read the rest of his books now and would recommend anyone who is feeling that suddenly their life doesn't make sense to read this one.
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on 16 May 2009
This book has a depressing cover and a miserable title. But it is gold dust. Read it, and be yourself.
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on 12 April 2012
I was attracted to this book not because I felt a mid-life crisis looming but because the author is a Jungian analyst who seemed to offer some useful insights into Jungian psychology. Anyone who attempts to read Jung's books knows how dense and inaccessible a lot of his writing can be, and for this reason we desperately need Jungian thinkers who can simplify the great man's ideas and insights. Hollis definitely does this at times, although his 'author's persona' is extremely negative. Many times a sentence will begin with the word 'sadly' followed by a general despairing attitude toward the nature of the psyche; it's as though Hollis is himself troubled and full of gloom, despite trying to communicate ideas that counteract such negativity. Also, far too often the author seems to be directing his writing at troubled people, as though he expects the majority of his readers to be severely depressed and in need of some sympathetic 'book therapy'. That may be you, but then again it might not be. Like me, you may have a positive, constructive attitude toward the challenges of the psyche - if you do you'll find Hollis to be totally the wrong 'book doctor' to visit, such is the heavy manner with which his writing makes the assumption that the reader is in a total state of despair. The word 'misery' in the title should already tell you the tone the author is striking.

Also, the book focuses far too much on the psychological processes involved in divorce and partner-reconcilation. Again it's like he's narrowed his audience down and made the assumption that not only are you miserable but surely a 'love-gone-wrong' scenario must be to blame too. If you're happily married or happily single you'll find yourself wading through several chapters that are irrelevant to your circumstances. Although those chapters are still interesting from an objective point of view.

It's interesting that Jungian theory explores how we 'project' our own inner complexes onto outer people and objects - and many times you find that even modern day Jungian analysts are doing exactly the same thing. Hollis seems to be an example of this. The book then becomes somewhat more fascinating not just for the occasional wisdom, but to see just how shadow-possessed the author is, whether he knows it or not! In one telling sentence, Hollis does actually confess that he himself was formerly a patient in psychotherapy - that made perfect sense judging by his negative posturing. I'm not sure he's worked out his own demons yet. Then again, how many Jungians have? Possibly Marie Louise von Franz was among the few who did, and for the best interpretation of Jungian ideas, she's as good as it gets.

But if you can get past this author's relentless assumptions that you must be miserable and alienated in the first place, there are some valid, useful insights in this book. All i wanted to see was a clearer rendering of Jung's complicated theories, I didn't need to be treated like a borderline psychotic who hates the world. Of course, if you are miserable, alienated and do hate the world, you'll gobble this book down quite quickly. After all, misery likes miserable company.
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on 21 July 2008
This is a fantastic little book. Hollis writes with great clarity about the challenges of midlife. It is a book both for professional therapists and interested non-specialists, for it addresses issues with insight but without heavy vocabulary. He encapsulates an important truth; that crisis and midlife neurosis represent "a wonderful, though often painful, opportunity to revision our sense of self."

I will be recommending it widely.
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