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The Examined Life

“The Examined Life, How We Lose and Find Ourselves” by Stephen Grosz is therapy at its essence and I thoroughly enjoyed it! Grosz is a smart therapist who also knows how to write well. I read a lot of books on therapy with specific patient stories this winter but his work is the best: it flows, it makes sense and each case study contains well structured universal truths about us, humans. Most similar books tell us what to do, this one prompts us to re-think how we do things, deeply!

While reading some chapters I have discovered faults in my approach to life and re-considered the sources of my particular behaviors. I am still working through some issues and I know it will take some time to put all those new learnings into practice. I am however really grateful for the book – a good book like this one changes us. For better. So if you pick it up do trust the title – it does what it states on the cover;)

I strongly recommend it as a self-study or self-development book for anyone, not only therapists.

Some notes from the book:

“He seemed never to have acquired a skill that we all need: the ability to make another person worry about us.”

“Closure is just as delusive-it is the false hope that we can deaden our living grief.”

“There cannot be change without loss”

“A lot of people, especially psychoanalysts, assume that happiness can only be found in a couple – but not all of us are made for a relationship.”

“Psychoanalysts are fond of pointing out that the past is alive in the present. But the future is alive in the present too. The future is not some place we’re going to, but an idea in our mind now. It is something we’re creating, that in turn creates us. The future is a fantasy that shapes our present.”

“At one time or another, most of us have felt trapped by things we find ourselves thinking or doing, caught by our own impulses or foolish choices; ensnared in some unhappiness or fear; imprisoned by our own history. We feel unable to go forward and yet we believe that there must be a way.”

“All sorrows can be borne if you put them into a story or tell a story about them. But if we cannot find a way of telling our story, our story tells us- we dream these stories, we develop symptoms, or we find ourselves acting in ways we don’t understand.”

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