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

4.1 out of 5 stars 167 customer reviews

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Length: 241 pages Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews

Review

INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER
LONGLISTED 2013 – Guardian First Book Award

 
“An insightful and beautifully written book about the process of psychoanalysis, and the ways people’s efforts to connect the past, present and future reflect their capacity to change.... A series of slim, piercing chapters that read like a combination of Chekhov and Oliver Sacks. They invite us to identify with Mr. Grosz’s patients and their losses and regrets, even as we are made to marvel at the complexities and convolutions of the human mind.”
—Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times Book Review
 
“Although the author teaches psychoanalytic theory at University College London…the writing is anything but clinical. There is a lucidity and a gently amused empathy to the stories that feels Chekhovian in their ability to recognize the small, transformative moments in our relationships. And this therapist isn’t a blank slate; his doubts and daydreams in the consulting room enter into the stories, which helps level the playing field between therapist and patient, and triangulates the mystery.”
—Marni Jackson, Maclean’s
 
“Writing with an elegance and poignancy that would make Raymond Carver envious, the long-time psychoanalyst seems to argue that our greatest difficulties should be looked at as stories rather than problems…. Whatever comes out, the richness of any person’s honest story of adversity makes mere happiness pale in comparison…. The Examined Life tells of the melancholy nature of being human in a way that is surprisingly uplifting.”
—Micah Toub, The Globe and Mail

“Engaging, frank, and with many penetrating insights. His short, succinct chapters have both the tension and the satisfaction of miniature detective or mystery stories... A stimulating book.”
–Michael Holroyd, The Spectator

“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.”
–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.”
–Robert Collins, Sunday Times

“[Grosz's accounts] are shaped like short stories, but true and moving in ways that fiction cannot be. […] Gradually accumulating through his book, Grosz provides, not a definition, but an enactment of the purpose of psychoanalysis, which is both modest and profound.”
–Alexander Linklater, The Observer

“Excellent… this book arrives like a box of chocolates. Thirty-one elegantly presented chapters which, when you bite into them, each reveals something sweet, rich or crunchy. Every one of these case histories bears repeating. All offer worthwhile insights.”
–Susanna Rustin, The Guardian

“Stephen Grosz has condensed thousands of hours of consultations into this gem... [he] writes lucidly and with sensitivity, treating his patients with respect…sprinkled with wise reflections. This is highly recommended.”
–Leyla Sanai, The Independent

“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.”
–Andrew Solomon, Author of “Far From the Tree

“I couldn’t put this down -- I read about other people, but learned about myself at the same time. Real stories can be so much more fascinating than fictional ones, especially with Stephen Grosz. No preaching, no clichés -- just wisdom.”
–Victoria Hislop, Author of “The Thread

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. He teaches clinical technique at the Institute of Psychoanalysis and psychoanalytic theory at University College London. His stories have appeared in the Financial Times and Granta. He lives in London.


Product Details

  • File Size: 793 KB
  • Print Length: 241 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0393349322
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1 edition (May 28, 2013)
  • Publication Date: May 21, 2013
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00AN86JZE
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
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  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #49,118 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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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.

For more information please visit www.stephengrosz.com

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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Format: Paperback
This is one of those rare instances in which I have to say that many of the 1- and 2-star reviews are as accurate as the 5-star ones. The main difficulty is expectations. The Examined Life is, at a superficial level, a series of shared experiences from the author's casebook, suitably anonymized, but it differs from the more traditional collections of essays by practitioners (Oliver Sacks, Atul Gawande, or, reaching back decades, William Nolen) in being less structured, more focused on a specific insight that the reader is left to ponder, very possibly with ramifications for his own life. Each of the chapters or sections is short; most are incomplete in the sense that they only touch on an individual patient's life without even giving an account of the arc of his treatment. They are like epiphanies distilled from case studies, tantalizingly brief but written with extraordinary lucidity and sensitivity. They are as good as many short stories in this sense, not by being obscure but by rewarding multiple readings. If you are expecting detailed accounts of a patient's life, followed by a description of diagnosis and treatment, you will likely be disappointed. But if you are willing to entertain the possibility that patient case histories can be used as a starting point for an experienced therapist's reflection, insight, and wisdom, you should not feel misled.
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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.
2 Comments 29 of 34 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The author has a gift for capturing the essence of a psychoanalytic session. He is obviously a sensitive and caring doctor. My frustration with the book was that I felt he could have said more. True to the form of an old-school psychoanalyst, he says very little, and lets his patients talk, hoping they'll figure it out themselves. He expects the same of the reader. In most chapters he stopped just when I was starting to learn something. The book gave me the same feeling: suddenly it was just over, and I felt unsatisfied. A missed opportunity.
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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 me...my 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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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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