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The Examined Life: How We Lose and Find Ourselves

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An extraordinary book for anyone eager to understand the hidden motives that shape our lives.
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 distils 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.

From Publishers Weekly

Mar 04, 2013 – Grosz could get technical if he wanted to—he teaches clinical technique and psychoanalytic theory at London’s Institute of Psychoanalysis and University College London, respectively—but he believes the best way to prove the power of storytelling is to practice what he preaches. Drawing from two decades of experience as a working psychoanalyst, Grosz bases the bulk of his claims on the tales of his patients, which range from traumatic boarding school experiences to failed romances and terminal illness. They are compassionately told and eminently readable, but skeptical readers will likely lament the lack of scientific analysis. But then again, that’s Grosz’s whole point—science needn’t be at the forefront if cathartic personal narrative is the focus. The crucial role of storytelling in forming one’s sense of self and of the world seems to be a given among psychoanalysts and writers, but Grosz goes further to demonstrate the ways in which stories, when unspoken, manifest themselves as symptoms of psychological distress. Quick leaps from focused accounts to grand conclusions sometimes disrupt the rhetorical arc of the book, though this in itself might be in keeping with the overall idea that narratives are messy, unpredictable, and somehow, in spite of all of these things, inherently useful—if not always in the words, then in the silences between them.

Customer Reviews

The examined life: how we lose and find ourselves

I really enjoyed this book. Liked the short length of the chapters and after could think about each of them. Excellent for psych students

The Examined Life: How We Lose and Find Ourselves
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  • $10.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Psychology
  • Published: May 28, 2013
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
  • Seller: W. W. Norton
  • Print Length: 240 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

Customer Ratings