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The Examined Life: How We Lose and Find Ourselvesby Stephen Grosz
Synopses & Reviews
We are all storytellers — we create stories to make sense of our lives. But it is not enough to tell tales. There must be someone to listen.
In his work as a practicing psychoanalyst, Stephen Grosz has spent the last twenty-five years uncovering the hidden feelings behind our most baffling behavior. The Examined Life distills more than 50,000 hours of conversation into pure psychological insight without the jargon.
This extraordinary book is about one ordinary process: talking, listening, and understanding. Its aphoristic and elegant stories teach us a new kind of attentiveness. They also unveil a delicate self-portrait of the analyst at work and show how lessons learned in the consulting room can reveal as much to the analyst as to the patient.
These are stories about our everyday lives: they are about the people we love and the lies we tell, the changes we bear and the grief. Ultimately, they show us not only how we lose ourselves but also how we might find ourselves.
"Brilliant....After reading [Grosz’s] absorbing accounts of his patients’ journeys you might feel that The Examined Life ought to be given out free at birth." The Spectator
"By turns edifying and moving....Grosz offers astute insights into the perplexities of everyday life." Melissa Katsoulis, The Times
"Grosz’s vignettes are so brilliantly put together that they read like pieces of bare, illuminating fiction....It is this combination of tenacious detective work, remarkable compassion and sheer, unending curiosity for the oddities of the human heart that makes these stories utterly captivating." Trisha Andres, Financial Times
"This book conveys the nuanced complexities of psychoanalysis in deceptively simple human stories. It is written with generosity toward both its subjects and its readers; with authentic wit; and with flashes of profound insight. The novelistic charm of its case histories makes it impossible to put down, but while you may read it for entertainment, it will leave you wiser about humanity than you were when you picked it up." Robert Collins, Sunday Times
An extraordinary book for anyone eager to understand the hidden motives that shape our lives.
The everyday world bedevils us. To make sense of it, we tell ourselves stories. Here, in short, vivid, dramatic tales, psychoanalyst Stephen Grosz draws from his twenty-year practice to track the collaborative journey of therapist and patient as they uncover the hidden feelings behind ordinary behavior. A woman finds herself daydreaming as she returns home from a business trip; a young man loses his wallet. We learn, too, from more extreme examples: the patient who points an unloaded gun at a police officer, the compulsive liar who convinces his wife he’s dying of cancer. These beautifully rendered tales illuminate the fundamental pathways of life from birth to death. They invite compassionate understanding, suggesting answers to the questions that compel and disturb us most about love and loss, parents and children, work and change. The resulting journey will spark new ideas about who we are and why we do what we do.
About the Author
Stephen Grosz teaches clinical technique at the Institute of Psychoanalysis and psychoanalytic theory at the Psychoanalysis Unit, University College London. A regular contributor to the Guardian and the Financial Times, he lives in London.
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