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Mixing Minds: The Power of Relationship in Psychoanalysis and Buddhism Paperback – December 1, 2010

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Wisdom Publications; Original edition (December 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0861716167
  • ISBN-13: 978-0861716166
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #367,620 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"With this remarkable book, the dialogue between Buddhism and psychoanalysis has finally come of age. In a voice that is intimate, humorous, and at the same time wise and sophisticated, Jennings takes us on a fascinating and deeply rewarding voyage of discovery." (from the foreword by Jeremy D. Safran, editor of Psychoanalysis and Buddhism: An Unfolding Dialogue)

"An engaging account that puts the relational encounter of two human beings at the center of both practices. Jennings enriches stories about her own analyst and her Tibetan lama with an easy and wide-ranging fluency in both psychoanalytic theory and Buddhist thought." (Barry Magid, author of Ending the Pursuit of Happiness)

"Mixing Minds is at once skillfully dialogical and comparative, showing how Buddhist and psychoanalytic notions of relationality may be complementary without either being reduced to the terms of the other." (Mark Unno, editor of Buddhism and Psychotherapy across Cultures)

"With a deeply personal, erudite, and poetic voice Pilar Jennings tackles the paradox inherent in all the Buddhist traditions: while the Buddha attained his enlightenment as a solitary effort, we must do so in relationship. And Mixing Minds makes you yearn for just that kind of transformative relationship." (Arnie Kozak, author of Wild Chickens and Petty Tyrants)

"Jennings is a long-time practicing Buddhist and psychotherapist, who is well-placed to discuss how contrasting approaches to wellness can affect our relationships. She explores the synergy, examining why the focus on relationships is relevant to religion and how, although they do differ, Buddhism and psychoanalysis are actually compatible healing traditions. A useful and readable adjunct to the libraries of Buddhist students, and people in analysis, as well as their analysts: in fact, anyone who wants to be well and free from suffering." (Mandala Magazine: Editors Choice)

About the Author

Pilar Jennings is a psychotherapist and psychoanalyst who has focused on the clinical applications of Buddhist meditation practice. She received her doctorate in psychiatry and religion from Union Theological Seminary where she teaches and has been working with patients and their families through the Harlem Family Institute since 2004.

Jeremy D. Safran, PhD, is a professor of clinical psychology at the New School for Social Research in New York. He received his doctorate in psychology from the University of British Columbia in 1982 and his postdoctoral certification in psychoanalysis from New York University in 2001. To learn more about his psychotherapy research lab, visit www.safranlab.net

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By John L Murphy TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 5, 2010
Format: Paperback
Since her unconventional childhood meditating and studying Buddhism, Pilar Jennings brings her professional expertise and personal experience into this rewarding, if challenging, study. Both analyst and analysand, her background in both insight (vipassana) and Tibetan approaches to Buddhism enriches her clinical case studies and psychiatric applications. The result opens up methods where dialogue--and confrontation with the self amidst others in the journey towards psychic healing and spiritual integration--presents advocates of these traditions with possibilities of how they may co-exist more harmoniously. In Buddhism and psychiatry, interpersonal relationships matter most for her.

She begins with her own story. Dr. Jennings emphasizes that no mature understanding of psychoanalysis or Buddhism can rely on facile summaries. Her study, grounded in theory but alighting on her everyday life, delves into both approaches. Here a student and teacher, patient and doctor, come together to help the injured recover a sense of wholeness. She favors emptiness, a fundamental dharma concept, as essential. She suggests that counselors open themselves and their clients up to a more playful, open-ended evolution of their psychic encounters into the "pregnant void" where the fluid Buddhist model, of no-self and impermanence, allows more freedom for both the expert provider and the searching supplicant.

Coming to terms with a self which learns not to trust in fixed goals or settled moods may help fragmented Westerners, whether or not Buddhist practitioners, to understand as lived behavior these arcane concepts of "no-self" and "emptiness.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By L. Erickson TOP 1000 REVIEWER on April 19, 2011
Format: Paperback
This is a meticulously researched and in-depth examination of the similarities, differences, and processes of psychoanalysis and Buddhism, with an emphasis on the role of relationship - particularly the relationship between analyst and analysand, teacher and student - in the two traditions. Ms. Jennings is herself a practicing psychoanalyst with a long-term Buddhist practice, including studying both Vipassana and Tibetan Buddhism. She integrates her research with anecdotes from her own personal experiences as an analyst, an analysand, Buddhist practitioner, and student.

This book has a fairly specific target audience. I think it will be most relevant and useful to practicing psychoanalysts and psychotherapists looking to integrate or at the very least understand Buddhist practices, and/or other spiritual and religious beliefs, in the context of their work. It also is an invaluable read for any Buddhist teacher teaching in the West, as it explores the cultural differences that historically impacted the development of both psychoanalysis in the West, and Buddhism in the East. These cultural differences are often at the heart of misunderstandings between teachers and students, and Ms. Jennings' insights into these are illuminating.

Of course anyone interested in either psychoanalysis, Buddhism, or both will also appreciate this book, especially any Buddhist practitioner also engaged in or considering psychoanalysis. But it is an erudite read, often comparing and contrasting psychoanalytic theories and theorists that most people outside the field will not be familiar with. That being said, I appreciated this book greatly, and I was not familiar with many of the theories discussed (beyond those of Freud and Jung).

I thought Ms.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Robert A. Jonas (RbtJonas@aol.com) on February 4, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In this groundbreaking book, Pilar Jennings carefully examines the principles of healing in Tibetan Buddhism and in psychoanalysis. Mixing Minds is a must-read for every teacher of Buddhism in America, and for psychologists and psychiatrists who want to understand their work through the lens of Buddhist spirituality. It is not addressed to the casual reader. For those who are unfamiliar with psychoanalytic concepts such as the unconscious, transference, and projection, Mixing Minds may be a challenging read, and worth the effort. Psychologists, psychiatrists, and other mental health professionals who are unfamiliar with Buddhism will find Jennings' explanation of profound spiritual insights both fascinating and easy to grasp. Pilar Jennings has studied not only the voluminous psychoanalytic and Buddhist literature -- she has also studied herself. The reader trusts what she finds in herself because she tells her story in a way that illumines the universal human drama.

Robert A. Jonas, Ed.D.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By reji larco on April 4, 2011
Format: Paperback
Dr. Pilar Jennings creates a great gift for us all
ways of enjoying life and eachother with greater freedom and wisdom
Dr. Pilar Jennings will be giving a presentation at the Westport Library in May
follow her presentations, she is a magnificent speaker

We are gratefull for her great contributions,

Thank you,

Reji Larco
Psychotherapist and writer and author
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Lothe on October 18, 2013
Format: Paperback
For some time now there has been a recognition among Western practitioners and scholars that Buddhism and psychoanalysis have common ground: each seeks to discover the true nature of the self, in hopes that doing so will lead to an improved quality of life.

In "Mixing Minds," psychoanalyst and Tibetan Buddhist practitioner Pilar Jennings focuses on "the power of relationship in psychoanalysis and Buddhism." For her, there is a crucial core of relationality in both practices, namely the teacher and student in Buddhism, and the analyst and analysand (patient) in psychoanalysis. Jennings asks how these pairs both parallel and differ from each other, and how the respective practices might inform each other to create a more healing environment.

Jennings seeks an answer to these questions by examining Buddhist and psychoanalytic approaches to some common themes, such as desire, aggression, and idealization, and the goal of each practice. As she surveys these large and complex ideas, she provides enough grounding in both analysis and Buddhism that readers unfamiliar with one or both subjects can still appreciate her conclusions. In her best moments, she also offers stories of her own life and practice (of both Buddhism and analysis) in a strikingly genial and humble voice.

In Jennings' view, Buddhism and psychoanalysis aim at similar but distinct goals, and thus can meaningfully complement but not replace one another. As she sees it, Buddhism tends to treat the individual as primarily an instance of the overarching type of deluded suffering that afflicts all people.
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