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Running Is a Kind of Dreaming: A Memoir

Running Is a Kind of Dreaming: A Memoir

by J. M. Thompson
Running Is a Kind of Dreaming: A Memoir

Running Is a Kind of Dreaming: A Memoir

by J. M. Thompson


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A powerful, breathtaking memoir about a young man's descent into madness, and how running saved his life.

“Voluntary or involuntary?” asked the nurse who admitted J. M. Thompson to a San Francisco psychiatric hospital in January 2005. Following years of depression, ineffective medication, and therapy that went nowhere, Thompson feared he was falling into an inescapable darkness. He decided that death was his only exit route from the torture of his mind. After a suicide attempt, he spent weeks confined on the psych ward, feeling scared, alone, and trapped. One afternoon during an exercise break he experienced a sudden urge. “Run, I thought. Run before it’s too late and you’re stuck down there. Right now. Run. ”

The impulse that starts with sprints across a hospital rooftop turns into all night runs in the mountains. Through motion and immersion in the beauty of nature, Thompson finds a way out of the hell of depression and drug addiction. Step by step, mile by mile, his body and mind heal. In this lyrical, vulnerable, and breathtaking memoir, J. M. Thompson, now a successful psychologist, retraces the path that led him from despair to wellness, detailing the chilling childhood trauma that caused his depression, and the unorthodox treatment that saved him. Running Is a Kind of Dreaming is a luminous literary testament to the universal human capacity to recover from our deepest wounds.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062947093
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 12/06/2022
Pages: 320
Product dimensions: 5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.72(d)

About the Author

J. M. Thompson, PhD,  is a clinical psychologist and ultrarunner. He completed his psychology training at the University of California, San Francisco, where he conducted research on the brain mechanisms of meditation and the physiology of trauma.  He is also an ordained Zen practitioner and certified yoga teacher.  He has finished over 40 ultramarathons, and multiple solo adventure runs in the Sierra Nevada, the Grand Canyon, and Death Valley. Thompson currently serves as a staff psychologist at the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. He lives in San Francisco with his wife and two children. Website:

Table of Contents

Author's Note xi

I The Sun

Why 3

The Things I Carry 11

II Mercury

Dreaming 19

Hear the Clock Tick-Tock 23

The Time It's Always Been 43

Ball, Book, Flag 61

The One and the Many 77

III Venus

Heat 81

English Male, Disheveled 85

Gravity 93

The Dark Age 97

Love 109

IV Earth

The Mourner 115

The Island of the Cyclops 121

Hope Is a Hymn 147

V Mars

Home, Safe, Warm 153

The Hands of Thetis 163

VI Jupiter

Remembering Everything and Nothing 169

The Ground Does the Thinking 183

VII Saturn

The Field 189

Running from Birth and Death 195

The Lost Men 205

VIII Uranus

The Horizon 213

Lines 217

IX Neptune

Namu Kie Butsu 243

Home Again 249

X Charon

Desolation Wilderness 263

The Enchanted Land 267

XI Dysnomia

The Tower 281

XII The Oort Cloud

Stay Awhile 289

Acknowledgments 299

Resources 303

Notes 305

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