on 3 January 2007
This is the most influential book I have read regarding clinical practice. After reading it, I was in awe of how anyone can think let alone write so profoundly. It is not just about suicide, but speaks of how experience and developmental transitions shape our existence. Although breathtakingly compassionate and sophisticated regarding the joys and pains of living, I didn't find the content at all sentimental. This book is highly absorbing, frequently moving and extremely original in its perspective on various concepts. Ideas are introduced well, with examples that make it accessible to anyone regardless of their professional or personal reasons for reading "Suicide and the Soul". It can be a challenge in terms of the concepts, beliefs and emotions related to the material as would be expected. I am astounded at the age of this book; given how contemporary its viewpoints are on the matter. There is just as much value in this book to learn more about living and life, as death and suicide. Obviously, I would recommend reading the book.....at least once.
on 16 April 2014
I am so grateful that somebody has thought and felt so deeply about this subject and can put it so well into words. The prose is very clear and mostly straightforward but the ideas are profound and beautiful and liberating. He brings such compassion to this subject. As someone personally affected by suicide, I have struggled all my life to find meaning in the choice made by my parent. Almost nobody will talk about suicide from the inside, from the 'soul's' perspective. I have been into a Christian bookshop for example and found not one single book on the subject, from any perspective.
The first part of the book considers what might be the meaning of the suicidal urge, and even suicide itself, to the soul. It is an extraordinary piece of writing.
Then follows a consideration of the difference in motivation of the physician, the psychiatrist and the psychoanalyst. I didn't need quite so much of this but it is still interesting.
The last chapters are more generally about the soul's journey and the problems with normal psychotherapy. I am on the second to last chapter and it's just wonderful.
This is not remotely a depressing book. It's nourishment for those who needs this strange but satisfying food.
on 16 March 2013
I found this work very inspiring and helpful. It would bring comfort to many who are coping with the death of a loved one by suicide. In true Jungian tradition, Hillman remind us that the journey of any soul is mystery with internal demands that we may not ever understand. He says the job of the doctor is to keep the patient alive whereas it is the job of the psychotherapist to have a sense of a bigger picture.
While I believe many choose to take their lives because they feel so overwhelmed by long-buried pain that is hard to live with when it confronts them, I regret that some don't feel able to wait for the intensity of that suffering to lessen and move on to the next phase of their lives. However, this book is a timely reminder from Hillman that there is a bigger mystery going on than we can understand and in the face of that mystery we can humbly trust in the soul's integrity and support those left to grieve as best we can.