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on November 24, 1999
The author does an admirable job of connecting the ideas of great thinkers to everyday problems. There is not much depth in the analysis so the stories and applications of the ideas seem superficial but the concept (applying philisophical ideas to everyday situations) is a novel and appropriate one to share. The stories did add credibility to my own thought processes for while I may often reach the same conclusions I was unable to say from where the idea or thought derived. I will now study some of the more interesting thinkers shared in the book and see where that leads. What better can be said of a book than it stimulated one to want to learn and discover more? I read 4-5 books a month and rate them harshly so when I say it is a worthwhile read that is a high compliment.
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on August 13, 1999
The author of Plato, Not Prozac!, Lou Marinoff PH.D, accomplishes three things with this book. 1) He gives the layman just enough beginner's-philosophy to be effective while holding the reader's interest. 2) He extolls the benefits of "Philosophical Practice" and explains where psychiatry and Psychology can not, or should not, be applied. 3) He gives real-life examples of how some very basic philosophy has helped people cope with everyday life. A fresh and very real approach to self-help and mental health counceling.
Some may be offended by frank and direct discussion. Such as Psychiatry and Psychology's attempts to label a "misguided philosophy" as a mental disease. An alleged motive is to get insurance companies to pay for treatment.
The author suggests that a person whos condition is not brought on by a physical disease, genetics, an accident, or drug abuse may be suffering from a misguided philosophy of life. Hence, there are thousands of years of brilliant philosophical works to draw from. And to assist a patient, a Philosophical Pratitioner is less concerned with childhood conditioning than with helping the patient find a comfortable philosophical view point and get on with life.
A reference made by another reviewer of the book pointed to page 38 where the author is quoted "...no one needs to learn to feel emotion..." Perhaps the sentence could have been written "...most people do not need to be taught how to feel emotion..." But in context, I feel the sentence as-written is fair. The chapter in question is dealing with the author's description of a simple process that can be used as a self-help tool. Earlier in the book the author suggests this process is helpful to those with philosophical issues and not deaper mental illnesses -- as the inability to feel emotion may be.
According to the author, religion and science are rediscovering philosophy whereby even the Pope has more than symbolically endorsed some previously banned philosophical and scientific works, including assisting in his doctoral thesis.
The book is written to appeal to anyone who has tried other means of finding their "way" and have returned feeling something is still missing. This book may even re-affirm your feelings for life in general.
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on August 9, 1999
As a person who reads a great deal of philosophy and psychology, and who tries to combine them in his approach to life, I was quite interested to read Lou Marinoff's new book "Plato, Not Prozac!" But in time my excitement turned to mild disappointment.
First, Mr. Marinoff's habit of elevating philosophy at the cost of psychology diminished my enjoyment of the book. Second, while Mr. Marinoff's understanding of philosophy is impressive, his lack of insight into psychology is somewhat regrettable.
For example, on page 38, while describing his method of philosophical counseling, he writes that for a troubled person facing a problem, "Their emotional reaction is immediate and clear -- no one needs to learn to feel emotion ..." That statement -- only one of many that leap out at the reader -- reveals a disturbing lack of insight into personal psychology and the human condition in general.
While I strongly recommend the book for its philosophical strengths and for introducing readers to the exciting new field of philosophical counseling, I think it would be wise for readers to have something on hand by the wonderful analyst and author Adam Phillips to counteract the drab picture "Plato, Not Prozac!" paints of psychology.
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on November 15, 1999
I just left an eleven year teaching career to make a life change. I am now the library director for a small town making about a third of what I made as a teacher. I did it because I could no longer reconcile my personal philosophy and beliefs with that of the trends in public education today and the current attitudes of parents. This book was an amazing affirmation of my decision. It was neat to read the philosophies of the masters and know I was following like ideas as well as my heart. I spent years on and off examining my sanity, trying the new drugs, etc all in trying to make myself 'fit' into my career. Luckily I got out and into a rewarding line of work. I think anyone reading Lou's book will find it incredibly readible and something to relate to. It's nice to read a work that affirms life and makes you feel as though you do have control over your life and you don't need a shrink to do it. I highly recommend this work to anyone who has an interest in things of the soul and is a seeker of the lessons of life from the viewpoint of the great philosophers!
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VINE VOICEon February 3, 2004
What a fantastic book! I just wish that it had existed when I was much younger- it would have saved me a great deal of time on my own personal journey.
I always thought that intelligent, truly educated, individuals naturally applied the great wisdom teachings to their daily lives. I mean, that is why we are here isn't it? We truly come to obtain wisdom through philosophy (the love of wisdom) by applying it in the struggle of earthly life. I didn't realize that this had come to be rare and exceptional in the modern world. There is even a name for it now- philosophical practice. What a marvelous concept- students of philosophy helping each other to apply the lessons of the perennial teachings in their daily lives. Of course you can do it alone, as I did, but the author points out that it is nice to have a knowledgeable second party to make sure that you didn't miss something- and that you are truly applying reason and not rationalization.
The use of case studies for specific problem areas is quite informative: seeking a relationship, maintaining a relationship, ending a relationship, family life and strife, work, midlife crisis, the reason for morals and ethics, finding meaning and purpose, and gaining from loss.
The way that individual philosophers and their ideas are introduced is quite well done (theme, refrain, greatest hits, and a thumbnail abstract of their core ideas.) The basics of their systems are outlined nicely, which helps in deciding which to pursue later. I was amazed that so many of the great thinkers that that I had painstakingly discovered over the years were included.
If you would like to delve a little deeper into the various philosophers without tackling the source works I recommend _Basic Teachings of the Great Philosophers_ by S.E. Frost.
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on October 22, 2000
When I first began reading this book, I was extremely excited and I already began to think out an enthusiastic endorsement and planned to spread the word to friends and acquaintances. For so long I've hoped that philosophers would once again take over their rightful domain of engaging with regular people in discourse! But as I read on, my enthusiasm waned and ultimately disappeared. It seemed pretty clear that Lous Marinoff, admirable as what he is doing is, wrote about a field, philosophical counseling, before he had gained much experience as a practitioner. There only seem to be about 80 pages in which he demonstrates his own practice, and the rest just seems to be fluff and filler so he could write a book-length volume and capitalize on this. If he'd only waited to write this book when he had accumulated more experience, then his ghost writer Mrs. Kapklein would have had more meaningful material to work with, instead of trying to take the scant material she had and construct some sort of artificial PEACE method Marineff propounds that seems much like the pop psychology of the 70s and little like any sort of philosophy I have ever read about. Still, I think that this book is worth reading, more for what it lacks and for what one make hope is still to come from someone with perhaps a bit more depth and breadth of experience in what seems to be a growing field.
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on January 10, 2002
As a long time Prozac user hoping to find another way, I read this book. There were many insightful quotations from famous philosophers. However, most of the book is spent in attacking all current forms of psychology and psychiatry that do not use the author's method. And the rest of the book is spent in selling the philosophic method, both for individuals and for corporations. The book is a long advertisement for philosophic counseling. There is even a list at the end of ones you can call to make your appointment. However, the author does himself and his entire side profession a disservice by the hard sell of his side profession and putdown of other competing professions.
Also, many of the case studies have very poor follow through. One patient trying to decide what to do about his ailing mother was sent away with "selected" philosophies, and the author admits he chose the philosophies much as a trained psychiatrist would chose a drug or method of treatment. Yet the author has very little training and experience in this new field and no rigorous peer review journals and testing to examine. And in the book, the author admits not following up or caring about what the patient's subsequent decision and results were. For all we know, he killed his mother because she didn't understand his reading of Hegel to her.
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on December 29, 2005
I personally found this book to be very interesting and insightful. As a student of both psychology and philosophy, I greatly appreciate the way both are presented. His thoughts were synonymous with my personal humanistic view of working with others in counseling. It's encouraging to hear and read of more humanistic perspectives and approaches that include getting the client to THINK, as opposed to diagnose, medicate... repeat.
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on March 15, 2002
The idea that philosophy is useful and underutilized in our culture is certainly true enough. The concept that some people who philosophy might be able to help may need someone experienced in philosophy to help them get started is a defensible enough idea. And the author makes occasional disclaimers mouthing the appropriate words, admitting that psychiatry and psychoanalysis are sometimes the appropriate tool, and that he's only trying to add another tool to the mix.
But it's clear from the lion's share of his comments that he doesn't REALLY believe this. He constantly derides both psychiatry and psychoanalysis in ways that demonstrate his true opinion of them, and it's clear that he really thinks that they're next to worthless. The very title of his book is a good indicator. And if someone needs Prozac, all the philosophy in the world isn't going to help him a bit.
Now, I suppose it's true that there are people taking antidepressants whose problems are not truly biological, but I rather suspect that the percentage of people taking antidepressants for whom this is true is SIGNIFICANTLY lower than Dr. Marinoff thinks or would have us believe; if he didn't think it was a common situation, he wouldn't have chosen the title he chose. And suggesting to people who are on antidepressants that they very likely don't need them and would do just fine if they'd only examine their life choices more carefully is not only a very cavalier attitude but downright dangerous, to say nothing of cruel.
His discussions of how philosophy can be applied to "real life" are interesting, and worthwhile reading. But the attitude that permeates the book is one of self-serving arrogance, a dismissal of any tool for dealing with problems other than his preferred tool. For this reason, I do not recommend this book.
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on December 16, 2014
Taking into consideration the author might have made a hodgepodge of definitions and attributions to specific philosophers (as others more proficient in philosophy have already mentioned), this book is, nonetheless, a good guide to life. It is filled with insights that have shed light on situations in my personal life, and they have helped me sort through confusion and distress. I would suggest any friend of mine to read it as a companion to illuminate their minds when life becomes foreboding. The author chose an approachable English which will benefit those who are not professionals in philosophy, to understand the text with no difficulty.
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