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Close to the Bone: Life Threatening Illness and the Search for Meaning Paperback – April 3, 1998

4.3 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The crisis brought on by a serious or disastrous illness is the concern of this richly probing essay by a Jungian analyst and medical doctor. Although various diseases are touched on, cancer?especially as it affects women?is Bolen's focus. Yet far from being a grim tract, this book is a kind of metaphysical how-to filled with hope, second chances and sound guidance. But from the very first "initiation story" the author narrates for us?the myth of the abduction to the underworld of Persephone, an ancient Greek emblem of spring, vitality, rebirth?Bolen makes clear that there are dark and dangerous realms to traverse to learn how to help make oneself well and whole again. In her view, there is no mind/body split, no dichotomy between psyche and soma: the mind is everywhere in the body and affects physiological outcomes. While the book's Jungian tone will keep some readers away (even as it attracts others), and while it's not full of original ideas, it is a skillful assemblage of views on the harrowing experience of physical illness and mental dissociation from which we can and may emerge with a new clarity about who we are and what we want our lives to be.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

From a best-selling author (Goddesses in Everywoman, LJ 7/84): advice on making serious illness a chance for growth.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; First Touchstone Edition edition (April 3, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684835304
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684835303
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.6 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #856,467 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Once again, Jean Shinoda Bolen has gifted us with her rich understanding of the human condition. In this book, she explores the psychological and spiritual value of death, profound loss, and illness without in any way minimizing the pain, angusih, and grief that come with these times in our loves. Bolen's book gives us a way to grapple with these passages on a deep spiritual, personal level, without turning to religious platitudes or what, for many, may feel like true-believer gloss overs. Instead, dying, illness, and loss are presented as psychological as well as physical events that resonate with rich personal and spiritual meaning and transformation, if we can allow them to do this. A wonderful book!
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Format: Paperback
Early in this beautiful book, Jean Shinoda Bolen reminds us that the Chinese pictograph for "crisis" contains the ideograms for both "danger" and "opportunity." I've worked with clients who deal with life-threatening illness, and it is almost invariably true that this experience raises important "soul-evoking" questions. To explore those questions is inevitably healing, whether in body, spirit, or both.
As with any major crisis in life, we can either view the glass as half-empty, or see the gift that we are offered: the opportunity to re-examine our priorities, our relationships, and to do the soul-work that brings true meaning to life. Illness forces us to deal with "what we know in our bones" that we may have so far denied -- ways in which we are unhappy and/or self-destructive.
And those of us who do not have life-threatening illness can learn from those who do. As Bolen points out, "Life is a terminal condition, after all." So we can all benefit from answering the questions she poses: "What are we here for... What did we come to learn... What and who did we come here to love?"
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Format: Paperback
This book is unlike any other I have read. The author is a Jungian analyst and clinical professor of psychiatry. To quote the book jacket, she "weaves myth, experience, and story to produce a book which at once illuminates the experience of the seriously ill patient and shows that facing one's mortality can be a life-transforming, and even a life-saving process". At a time when I was recovering from life-threatening illness myself, I heard the author speak at a lecture in Vancouver, and I found her use of classical myth as an allegory for illness to be quite effective. My friend Russell borrowed this book from me a few weeks before he died from cancer, and in a written note he described it as "the right book at the right time".
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Format: Paperback
As a businesswoman seeking to ensure that the daily demands of running a successful organization do not impede my ability to live a life of integrity, I seek to read books that inspire me to find joy in daily living. As I read this book, I was in awe of the stories of the survivors who have found life that much more as a result of their experiences in dealing with terminal illness. I applaud Dr. Bolen's wisdom in sharing the challenges that make a healthy person realize how weak we are in comparison to these heroes who live so richly in spite of events. I found the book a great joy and, in fact, am reading it again - just in case I missed something the first time. I am positioning myself to "recreate" myself in a 2nd career and this book inspired me to think of using my skills in some way to assist women who find themselves dealing with their own terminal illness or the illness of a loved one.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Close to the Bone is an absolute blessing for anyone going through a life-threatening illness and a saving grace for those who love and support that person. Dr. Bolen goes deeply into the psychological and spiritual components of a challenging illness and brings the light and warmth of understanding and compassion. Her use of mythological stories is brilliant and will change the way you look at a hospital stay.

If you are sitting by the bed of a loved one, this is the book you should have near at hand.
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