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The Examined Life: How We Lose and Find Ourselves [Kindle Edition]

Stephen Grosz
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (96 customer reviews)

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Book Description

A New York Times "10 Favorite Books of 2013"

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.

Editorial Reviews


"I was enthralled. profound and moving, packed large ideas into a slim volume" -- Lucy Lethbridge Observer Books of the Year "With deceptive simplicity and gentle wisdom, Grosz teases out a lesson or chases down a fugitive insight. I have distrusted psychoanalysis for years, but I would leap onto Grosz's couch" -- James McConnachie The Sunday Times Books of the Year "This moving book of patient portraits by the psychoanalyst Stephen Grosz will make the reader think of Freud's keenly observed and literary-minded case studies. Writing with sympathy and insight, Mr Grosz distils 25 years of work into a series of slim, piercing chapters that read like a combination of Chekhov and Oliver Sacks" -- Michiko Kakutani New York Times "The success of The Examined Life by the psychoanalyst Stephen Grosz has, I think, relatively little to do with his clinical know-how; it rests, as Freud's did, on his story-telling abilities" -- Rachel Cooke Observer "Grosz is a superb storyteller and tells lots of his patients' stories with sensitivity, but also with great acuity. You might keep thinking you recognise things about people you know" -- William Leith Evening Standard "A wonderful example of a book that provides a safe space that can be used as a base to explore the less safe" -- Alex Clark Guardian "Riveting... Grosz is adept at uncovering the little lies we tell ourselves and he's very perceptive about the potentially positive effects of bad experiences" Daily Telegraph "Because of [Grosz's] skill at getting to the heart of the matter, we forget the distance separating us and become quickly involved in the lives of those he discusses" Mail on Sunday "Absolutely fascinating. You'll be amateur psychoanalysing yourself and everyone you know" Independent on Sunday "It made me stop and think, and it has stayed with me. Grosz is a superb storyteller and tells lots of his patients' stories with sensitivity, but also with great acuity. You might keep thinking you recognise things about people you know" -- William Leith Scotsman

About the Author

Stephen Grosz was born in Indiana and educated at Berkeley and Oxford. For the past twenty-five years he has worked as a psychoanalyst, teaching clinical technique at the Institute of Psychoanalysis and psychoanalytic theory at University College London. His stories have appeared in the Financial Times Weekend Magazine. This is his first book.

Product Details

  • File Size: 246 KB
  • Print Length: 241 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0393079546
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1 edition (May 21, 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00AN86JZE
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
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  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #30,868 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
61 of 65 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Talking Cures January 13, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
This is a book about the relationships between psychoanalysis and language. The central relationship concerns that which is not said - the silences in between propositions. Grosz's genius is to match form with function and relate his stories in a completely non-didactic manner, but so compellingly that the conclusion strikes the reader as sudden insight. This phenomenon is exactly the core event in the psychoanalytical process, and the main event of a good narrative tale. Grosz demonstrates both, repeatedly, and shows how psychoanalysis can affect the patient, the analyst and the reader (and by extension, the world). Individually, the stories are unique, moving and trans-formative.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great insight July 4, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book is a wonderful series of stories about the way people deal with emotional and psychological difficulties. It does more than expain how and why people behave, it also opens up important philospophical questions that need to be discussed and examined in order for us to reach a state of self awareness, genuineness and honesty. Stephen Grosz writes with great humility and love of learning. A great read for anyone who is psyhcologically minded and likes to ask "why?"
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Getting to know and understand yourself April 26, 2013
By Mary F
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I cried and laughed, felt sad and happy as I read this book. I identified to some extent with nearly all the patients and with the author. Human behaviour is complicated but there is always a reason and it is very easy to get stuck in a pattern. If you are interested in psychoanalysis you will enjoy this book. It's probably too late for me now to start but if I was going to I would like an analyst like Mr. Gross.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating March 5, 2013
By Maeve
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
An easy book to read with short, digestible chapters, each with a different lesson, drawing on examples from different patients in psychoanalysis and the author's personal experiences.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Achieving Gratitude September 21, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
These essays are appropriately enigmatic. I read the book quickly and might even return to the book at some future time. Yes, he could have elaborated more but seemed to capture whatever was essential. The chapter, "How Anger Can Keep Us From Sadness", was amazing. There seems to be no limit to compassion nor limits to how much love may be extended. Dr. Grosz seems to be a true humanitarian, first and foremost, a quality that may be more healing than any other. Perhaps his years of intimate contact with others have enriched him as much as his patients have been helped, and he is sharing bits of that enrichment, a fulfillment of the book's epigraph: "We receive and we lose, and we must try to achieve gratitude to embrace with whole hearts whatever of life that remains after the losses." Would love to read more books of this sort.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars gems of insight November 24, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A couple reviews seemed to feel that the cases should have been 'wrapped up' with followup on how the patients fared later......which, in my mind, is irrelevant. This is a small book with short chapters/synopses of a variety of patients, and the diagnoses/insights about each. I loved that (in most, for me) there are defined passages of flashes of "aha! so THAT'S why/how" that I want to remember.........behavioral or personality traits that I can (suddenly) see and understand in situations and people in my own realm. Those who just go with the flow and have no interest in understanding how or why they --or others ----- act or react to life will probably not care for this book, but I flagged a dozen pages with the intent to pull it out and re-read them many times to refresh myself until I get those concepts drilled into my memory. While each was simple, coming across so many "aha's!" in one read was a bit of overload for mind whirls with each one as I bump it against people and situations I encounter. Anyhow- anyone looking for complete case studies, from first visit to "cure/happy ending" :) should move on, this is not it.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Solving Life's Riddles July 8, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Grosz is a psychoanalyst who distills conversations that occurred over years into pithy tales that give insight into the common human experience. Very engrossing. Great bedtime reading.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Examined Life-- October 18, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Grosz' work is clinically focused--not a theoretical text but rooted in psychoanalytic theory. I'm using it in a course called Literature and Psychology and finding it a wonderful adjunct to reading novels and short stories. He's a good writer and a good clinician; his work recalls Adam Phillips' ON KISSING, TICKLING AND BEING BORED. Each chapter tackles a single issue in a larger case--so Grosz zooms in on a lost wallet, or a long string of disasters, or a long forgotten memory. And out of these small matters we learn about how we hide things from ourselves. Grosz engages us in matters of sexuality, death, anxiety, success, failure, bed wetting and being boring. Grosz gets the reader, as he gets his patients, to feel and think, without being intrusive or overbearing. In all, I found the book unique in its ability to be subtly psychoanalytic.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars engaging from beginning to end
Has a unique voice. It is clearly a labor of love and a wish to remember the love affection and wide enriching emotions that gave both his patients and him greater depth.
Published 8 hours ago by beso1948
5.0 out of 5 stars Teaching Stories
A gem of a book, with a tone of warmth and care, psychoanalytic stories that reveal inner truths and wisdom.
Published 19 days ago by Bill
4.0 out of 5 stars Easy read, short stories not a ton of depth
If you like short simple solutions to complex emotional problems this is the perfect book for you. Don't get me wrong, it was a great read but a bit simplistic in some of the... Read more
Published 19 days ago by Dave Hamel
4.0 out of 5 stars The unconscious and it's power
I am a retired psychoanalyst and it was pleasurable to read about the power of the unconscious again, now that it is out of favor. Read more
Published 21 days ago by R. Karr
5.0 out of 5 stars Witness others Ah ha moments.
Interesting to witness when others have their moment of clarity. The case studies or more specifically, the highlights of the analytic sessions reveal the process of other's self... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Mary Wheeler
5.0 out of 5 stars Fodder for life examination
Penetrating, powerful, and poignant.

This was one of those books that I had to continually put down in order to process—and fully appreciate—its plethora of rich... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Deb
5.0 out of 5 stars Intimate portraits
This author offers the chance to eavesdrop on a psychoanalyst's thinking. His voice is insightful and moving. Without using jargon and or being disrespectful Dr. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Myra Pomerantz, Ph.D.
1.0 out of 5 stars not as titled
turns out to be a series of mildly informative narratives about his individual patients. Little to learn from not very thoughtful writing
Published 1 month ago by paul cezanne
5.0 out of 5 stars This Book Gives Eloquent Voice to What Every Mental Health...
I started reading The Examined Life late one morning - and lo and behold I found myself on page 109 within an hour or so. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Tennis Nut
4.0 out of 5 stars Enlightening
This book keeps me thinking about life and experiences. You can find so many situations similar to what you have lived but put in an wider perspective that enlightens your... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Alejandro Dinsen
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More About the Author

Stephen Grosz is a practicing psychoanalyst--he has worked with patients for more than twenty-five years. Born in America, educated at the University of California, Berkeley, and at Oxford University, he lives in London. A Sunday Times bestseller, The Examined Life is his first book.

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