"Beautifully written…The insights here will cut close to the bone."
"By turns edifying and moving. Grosz offers astute insights into the perplexities of everyday life."
Financial Times - Trisha Andres
"A peek into the human psyche…Marked by a clear absence of technical jargon…An immensely personal work, and something much more than just a legacy of advice."
Daily Beast - Lucy Scholes
"Grosz’s vignettes are so brilliantly put together that they read like pieces of bare, illuminating fiction…utterly captivating."
Sunday Times - Robert Collins
Grosz could get technical if he wanted to—he teaches clinical technique and psychoanalytic theory at London’s Institute of Psychoanalysis and University College London, respectively—but he believes the best way to prove the power of storytelling is to practice what he preaches. Drawing from two decades of experience as a working psychoanalyst, Grosz bases the bulk of his claims on the tales of his patients, which range from traumatic boarding school experiences to failed romances and terminal illness. They are compassionately told and eminently readable, but skeptical readers will likely lament the lack of scientific analysis. But then again, that’s Grosz’s whole point—science needn’t be at the forefront if cathartic personal narrative is the focus. The crucial role of storytelling in forming one’s sense of self and of the world seems to be a given among psychoanalysts and writers, but Grosz goes further to demonstrate the ways in which stories, when unspoken, manifest themselves as symptoms of psychological distress. Quick leaps from focused accounts to grand conclusions sometimes disrupt the rhetorical arc of the book, though this in itself might be in keeping with the overall idea that narratives are messy, unpredictable, and somehow, in spite of all of these things, inherently useful—if not always in the words, then in the silences between them. Agent: David Miller, Rogers, Coleridge & White Ltd. (May)
"A beautifully written, affirmative, and nuanced account of a professional life in service to psychoanalytic healing… a work of exceptional grace."
Psychoanalytic Psychology - Kimberlyn Leary
"Engaging, frank,and with many penetrating insights. His short, succinct chapters have both the tension and the satisfaction of miniature detective or mystery stories."
The Spectator - Michael Holroyd
"Impossible to put down… it will leave you wiser about humanity than you were when you picked it up."
The Examined Life…. shares the best literary qualities of Freud’s most persuasive work. It is… an insightful and beautifully written book… a series of slim, piercing chapters that read like a combination of Chekhov and Oliver Sacks. [A] deeply affecting book."
New York Times - Michiko Kakutani
"Marvellous. 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."
The Times (UK) - Melissa Katsoulis
"[Grosz] compresses years of analysis into short chapters that feel like minimalist, suspenseful detective stories. At the end of each story, a secret is revealed; often, it’s a secret which you’ve also kept."
The New Yorker - Joshua Rothman
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.”
By turns edifying and moving…Grosz offers astute insights into the perplexities of everyday life.”
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.”
National Book Award–winning author of Far fr Andrew Solomon
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.”
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.”
With a dignified speaking voice that is is both kind and erudite, Peter Marinker sounds like an accessible college professor sharing stories and observations with an old friend. His down-to-earth warmth makes him a wonderful choice to read this type of book. Each of these 31 chapters by a practicing psychoanalyst deals with a thought-provoking topic such as the loss of a family member, lovesickness, or envy of our children. The issues are illustrated by touching stories from the author’s clinical practice or personal life. Marinker lets them show how complex and beautiful one’s inner life can be when, with caring guidance, we escape from life’s relentless business long enough to look at ourselves. This audiobook harkens back to the time when more people worked on understanding themselves through formal psychotherapy. T.W. © AudioFile 2013, Portland, Maine
DECEMBER 2013 - AudioFile
A British psychoanalyst delves into his patients' stories, opening doors to larger insights. Today's medical culture emphasizes measurability, accountability and evidence-based practice, a logical approach that favors treatments "proven" effective. The results of psychoanalysis and counseling, however, aren't always so quantifiable. Understanding of our motivations, misfires and fears may come in fits and starts, and the answers may come as questions, but the insights gained can shift the course of a life. Grosz's book makes a compelling case for the continued value of this kind of therapy. Each chapter takes the form of a story or vignette about a particular individual or therapeutic issue. A patient referred for suicidal ideation is distant in treatment, and then, one day, his fiancee sends a letter to Grosz stating that he took his own life--but months later, Grosz gets a phone call from the man. Another patient's personal and professional lives suffer since he's intensely boring--but if he can identify when he's boring someone, why is he unwilling to change? Some of the chapters sketch out only general details about a case, leaving readers to draw their own conclusions about the meanings Grosz is trying to convey. Others take a central question, such as, "Why are we so committed to praising our children?" and turn it over and around like a Rubik's Cube. Grosz has an engaging prose style, neither riddled with professional jargon nor dumbed down to connect with a wider audience. A book that challenges readers' thinking while also assuming their willingness to put some effort into drawing their own conclusions from the material.