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Thoughts Without A Thinker: Psychotherapy from a Buddhist Perspective Paperback – November 30, 1995


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Paperback, November 30, 1995
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 242 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; export ed edition (November 30, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465020224
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465020225
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.3 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (66 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #124,286 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Drawing upon his own experience as therapist, meditator and patient, Mark Epstein, a New York-based psychiatrist trained in classical Freudian methods, attempts to integrate Western psychotherapy and the teachings of Buddhism. Repressed memories, painful emotions, narcissism and destructive energies can all be uprooted through Buddha's teaching on suffering, delusion, wisdom and non-attachment. Epstein argues that in recognizing his or her self-created mental suffering, a patient can overcome neurotic behaviors and even overcome a deeply ingrained negative sense of self. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Epstein, a New York City psychiatrist trained in classical Freudian methods, has studied Buddhist meditation in India and Southeast Asia. In a highly personal, thoughtful, illuminating synthesis, he draws on his own experience as therapist, meditator and patient in an unusual attempt to integrate Western psychotherapy and Buddha's teachings on suffering, delusion, wisdom and nonattachment. According to Epstein, Buddhist meditative practices can help people release repressed memories, work through painful emotions, uproot narcissism and redirect destructive energies. By recognizing his or her self-created mental suffering, the patient is able to overcome neurotic behavior patterns and may ultimately shed a deeply ingrained negative sense of self. Patients, psychologists and meditators willing to explore the arduous path outlined here will find much spiritual nourishment.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

A well written and caring book.
"aaghevli"
This book does a wonderful job of synthesizing modern psychotherapy with buddhism and buddhist psychology.
C. Garcia
I picked this book off the shelf in 1995, when it was published, and have read it about five times since.
L. Heiser

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

41 of 42 people found the following review helpful By "aaghevli" on October 19, 2001
Format: Audio Cassette
I think this book is an absolutely wonderful introduction to a particular subset of Buddhist philosophy, and done so in such a way that it may benefit our own lives as well as the academic and practices of psychology today.
Specifically, the examination of the Buddhist Realms of existence (of which there are 6 I believe) and its relation to our states of mind. In doing so, we are treated to stories of the personal struggles of his patients as well as their parallels to Buddhist concepts (most notably the 6 realms).
I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a good INTRODUCTION (as the depth could be expanded further of course)to Buddhist philosophy within our current scientific concepts, as well as psychologists looking to expand their world view and see ancient Buddhists as their predecessors. A well written and caring book.
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37 of 38 people found the following review helpful By L. Heiser on August 4, 2002
Format: Paperback
I picked this book off the shelf in 1995, when it was published, and have read it about five times since. Although I have an advanced degree and am used to difficult books, I found it very challenging, though readable and interesting. I don't think I developed a coherent sense of the profound and helpful ideas in "Thoughts Without a Thinker" until my third or fourth read.
I'd like to thank Mark Epstein for the 20 years of experience, study, practice, thought, and compassion he put into this book. In our anti-intellectual culture it's a pleasure to read a consummately intellectual book that is packed with feeling, humanity, and a dynamic sense of purpose and discovery.
It's reductive to say what I got out of this book, and, in a way, against the spirit of the book. But what I derived from my readings is a profound argument (that has stayed with me, really helped me) for not taking myself, my "tragedies," or, even, anyone else's, too much to heart. To understand that I and my culture burden me with a sense of identity and history that are simply irrationally heavy; to understand that many of my "burdens" can be eased by blending analysis and understanding with a less rational "bare attention" and letting go.
Are you berating yourself for anything? Epstein's marvelous quotes from Buddhist texts speak eloquently for him: "Things are not what they seem. Nor are they otherwise. Deeds exist, but no doer can be found."
It's amazing how much the reviewers of this book agree with one another. I think this speaks to the tremendous integrity of Mark Epstein's effort in this book. Among other things, "Thoughts Without a Thinker" inspires me to try (as non-neurotically as possible) to create something as excellent in my life.
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39 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on December 17, 2005
Format: Paperback
The first chapter of this book alone is worth the purchase price. I have it dogeared, and refer back to it frequently. The author uses the Buddhist Wheel of Life as a metaphor for states of pschological suffering. His explanations are both clear and intriguing. This book will interest students of psychology and Buddhism alike.
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37 of 39 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 1, 1999
Format: Paperback
I found this book not only enlightening but very practical. The introduction to the fundamentals of Buddhism in the first section is clear, easy to read, and well-thought-out -- I've read a lot of Buddhist texts and commentary on my own, but this summary pulled it all together for me. His discussion of the practice of meditation was extremely helpful -- although the best way to learn how to meditate is to DO it, this provided some useful guidelines, and was very reassuring for us perfectionists who tend to get hung up in "Am I doing it right?"! While the final section would probably be most useful to those who practice psychotherapy, or to their clients, I found it thought-provoking and fascinating to read. This isn't just a book for specialists; it has something to say to anyone who's interested in human psychology or spiritual development (which, Epstein might say, are fundamentally the same thing).
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Angel M. on February 14, 2006
Format: Paperback
It was one of a few required texts for a Buddhism class. I chose it because I have an interest in psychology, particularly the psychodynamic perspective (unconscious motivation) and this book added to my life in such a way! I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to learn about Buddhism and freeing one's "self" from the limitations of convention. I don't agree with everything in it, but this is a book for my collection, definitely.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Steve Burns TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 3, 2008
Format: Paperback
The author of this book has done an outstanding job explaining the different benefits of both psychotherapy and meditation, there limits and how these approaches can help the other. He explains that "It's not what we are feeling that's important but how we relate to it that matters". The author does a great job clearing up a lot of misconceptions about meditation and the Buddha's teachings. They are very similiar to modern day psychotherapy. Meditation is a form of self therapy, observing your thoughts as they arise and insight mediation allows you to examine how your thoughts flow and why.
Buddha taught that the false ego or metaphorical self causes mental suffering. Deeds exist, but no doer can be found. Thoughts exist with out a thinker. We have thoughts, feelings, a body, senses, and consciousness; all these exist, however there is no "I" or "ego". That is mental formation we hold in our mind and give it a form, but it is a mental mirage and is an illusion and is the root of all our mental suffering. That is the main teaching of this book, and if you can grasp that you overcome the world.
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