- Paperback: 288 pages
- Publisher: Wisdom Publications; Original edition (December 1, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0861716167
- ISBN-13: 978-0861716166
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 5 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,168,052 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Mixing Minds: The Power of Relationship in Psychoanalysis and Buddhism Paperback – December 1, 2010
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"With this remarkable book, the dialogue between Buddhism and psychoanalysis has finally come of age. In a voice that is intimate, humorous, and at the same time wise and sophisticated, Jennings takes us on a fascinating and deeply rewarding voyage of discovery." (from the foreword by Jeremy D. Safran, editor of Psychoanalysis and Buddhism: An Unfolding Dialogue)
"An engaging account that puts the relational encounter of two human beings at the center of both practices. Jennings enriches stories about her own analyst and her Tibetan lama with an easy and wide-ranging fluency in both psychoanalytic theory and Buddhist thought." (Barry Magid, author of Ending the Pursuit of Happiness)
"Mixing Minds is at once skillfully dialogical and comparative, showing how Buddhist and psychoanalytic notions of relationality may be complementary without either being reduced to the terms of the other." (Mark Unno, editor of Buddhism and Psychotherapy across Cultures)
"With a deeply personal, erudite, and poetic voice Pilar Jennings tackles the paradox inherent in all the Buddhist traditions: while the Buddha attained his enlightenment as a solitary effort, we must do so in relationship. And Mixing Minds makes you yearn for just that kind of transformative relationship." (Arnie Kozak, author of Wild Chickens and Petty Tyrants)
"Jennings is a long-time practicing Buddhist and psychotherapist, who is well-placed to discuss how contrasting approaches to wellness can affect our relationships. She explores the synergy, examining why the focus on relationships is relevant to religion and how, although they do differ, Buddhism and psychoanalysis are actually compatible healing traditions. A useful and readable adjunct to the libraries of Buddhist students, and people in analysis, as well as their analysts: in fact, anyone who wants to be well and free from suffering." (Mandala Magazine: Editors Choice)
About the Author
Pilar Jennings is a psychotherapist and psychoanalyst who has focused on the clinical applications of Buddhist meditation practice. She received her doctorate in psychiatry and religion from Union Theological Seminary where she teaches and has been working with patients and their families through the Harlem Family Institute since 2004.
Jeremy D. Safran, PhD, is a professor of clinical psychology at the New School for Social Research in New York. He received his doctorate in psychology from the University of British Columbia in 1982 and his postdoctoral certification in psychoanalysis from New York University in 2001. To learn more about his psychotherapy research lab, visit www.safranlab.net
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Robert A. Jonas, Ed.D.
This book has a fairly specific target audience. I think it will be most relevant and useful to practicing psychoanalysts and psychotherapists looking to integrate or at the very least understand Buddhist practices, and/or other spiritual and religious beliefs, in the context of their work. It also is an invaluable read for any Buddhist teacher teaching in the West, as it explores the cultural differences that historically impacted the development of both psychoanalysis in the West, and Buddhism in the East. These cultural differences are often at the heart of misunderstandings between teachers and students, and Ms. Jennings' insights into these are illuminating.
Of course anyone interested in either psychoanalysis, Buddhism, or both will also appreciate this book, especially any Buddhist practitioner also engaged in or considering psychoanalysis. But it is an erudite read, often comparing and contrasting psychoanalytic theories and theorists that most people outside the field will not be familiar with. That being said, I appreciated this book greatly, and I was not familiar with many of the theories discussed (beyond those of Freud and Jung).
I thought Ms. Jennings' insights into the Buddhist teacher/student relationship were particularly incisive and true, and relevant to spiritual practitioners of many faiths, not just Buddhism. She does a masterful job of exploring all aspects and phases of this relationship - the process of working through our projections of what a teacher (or mentor, or spiritual director, or priest, etc.) should be, our idealization of who they are, our disillusionment when their words and actions do not match this, the sometimes resultant anger, and (hopefully) the shifting into a more mature interpersonal relationship that fosters our continued growth and insight.
Ms. Jennings' chose to focus on the role of this teacher/student relationship, and the relationship between psychoanalysts and analysands, because:
"Both Western psychology and Buddhist philosophy recognize that we are by our very nature relational beings...This is how our very ego formation comes into being, and how our evolving capacity for adult interpersonal relationships is sustained. If the historical Buddha had opted not to seek his small sangha of five after his awakening, the evolution of Buddhism into its current global incarnation would never have come about."
Both psychoanalysis/psychotherapy and Buddhism rely on our relational nature, on the relationship between analyst/analysand, and teacher/student, for insights to surface and be processed. Of course, within Buddhist schools, this relationship is emphasized more in some traditions that in others, and Ms. Jennings' recognizes this, and compares her differing experiences within Vipassana and Tibetan Buddhism as an example.
Other topics explored in this book that I found interesting were:
- The role of religion in the psychoanalytic process, how religious beliefs potentially impact both the psychoanalyst and the analysand, and how they can be integrated into the process
- East/West cultural differences that influence Buddhist teacher/student relations
- The process of transmission within Buddhism and transference within psychoanalysis
- How anger and desire are viewed within each tradition, and the strengths and potential pitfalls of the approaches for dealing with them within each tradition
- An exploration of enlightenment as portrayed within Buddhism and integration as portrayed within psychoanalytic theories - in other words, the 'end games' of both traditions
My favorite parts of the book were the personal stories of Ms. Jennings, in which she shares phases of her own psychoanalytic process and Buddhist practice. She is honest and down to earth in these passages, and I wish there were more of them. Perhaps in the future she will consider writing a memoir that focuses on these. In the meantime, Mixing Minds is a fascinating and thorough exploration of its' topic, and I highly recommend it for those interested.
In "Mixing Minds," psychoanalyst and Tibetan Buddhist practitioner Pilar Jennings focuses on "the power of relationship in psychoanalysis and Buddhism." For her, there is a crucial core of relationality in both practices, namely the teacher and student in Buddhism, and the analyst and analysand (patient) in psychoanalysis. Jennings asks how these pairs both parallel and differ from each other, and how the respective practices might inform each other to create a more healing environment.
Jennings seeks an answer to these questions by examining Buddhist and psychoanalytic approaches to some common themes, such as desire, aggression, and idealization, and the goal of each practice. As she surveys these large and complex ideas, she provides enough grounding in both analysis and Buddhism that readers unfamiliar with one or both subjects can still appreciate her conclusions. In her best moments, she also offers stories of her own life and practice (of both Buddhism and analysis) in a strikingly genial and humble voice.
In Jennings' view, Buddhism and psychoanalysis aim at similar but distinct goals, and thus can meaningfully complement but not replace one another. As she sees it, Buddhism tends to treat the individual as primarily an instance of the overarching type of deluded suffering that afflicts all people. On the other hand, psychoanalysis can become so preoccupied with the particular psychic issues of a given analysand that it can lose sight of the extent to which psychological suffering can be a bridge to a shared human experience.
Needless to say, not all readers will agree with all of the book's conclusions. For example, I think Jennings sells short the capacity for the ultimate (ontological) emptiness of Buddhism to contain a conventional self that is perfectly subject to the methods of psychoanalysis. And while she offers some intriguing visions of what "Enlightenment" might look like in practical terms, her ideas (as she acknowledges) do stray from traditional Buddhist teachings on the nature of nirvana.
Notwithstanding these quibbles, "Mixing Minds" is thought-provoking on the subject of the limitations of particular healing practices, as well as whether and how those practices can work together for a more holistic healing program. Even those who are dedicated primarily or entirely to one system or the other can benefit from inquiring what their discipline can achieve, and how, and whether it could be augmented by other practices. In the end, Jennings is not "pushing" therapy, or Buddhism; she merely wants to see people find the help and the healing so many of us are searching for. And that is a wish Buddhism and therapy can gladly share .
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