The Examined Life

The Examined Life

How We Lose and Find Ourselves

Book - 2013
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WW Norton
A New York Times "10 Favorite Books of 2013"An extraordinary book for anyone eager to understand the hidden motives that shape our lives.
We are all storytellers—we create stories to make sense of our lives. But it is not enough to tell tales. There must be someone to listen.In his work as a practicing psychoanalyst, Stephen Grosz has spent the last twenty-five years uncovering the hidden feelings behind our most baffling behavior. The Examined Life distils more than 50,000 hours of conversation into pure psychological insight without the jargon.This extraordinary book is about one ordinary process: talking, listening, and understanding. Its aphoristic and elegant stories teach us a new kind of attentiveness. They also unveil a delicate self-portrait of the analyst at work and show how lessons learned in the consulting room can reveal as much to the analyst as to the patient.These are stories about our everyday lives: they are about the people we love and the lies we tell, the changes we bear and the grief. Ultimately, they show us not only how we lose ourselves but also how we might find ourselves.

Baker & Taylor
The author describes his work as a psychoanalyst over a twenty-five year period, describing his efforts to guide his patients to personal insights into their behaviors and resolutions which can change their lives for the better.

Book News
Grosz presents aphoristic stories drawn from his practice as a psychoanalyst. They are not full case-studies, but vignettes that illustrate common though penetrating problems of the human condition. He considers the passion for ignorance, how paranoia can relieve suffering and prevent a catastrophe, wanting the impossible, how a fear of loss can cause us to lose everything, bearing death, finding closure, and more. His patients, whose stories he relates using pseudonyms, include children and adults. This is not a scholarly book, but a potentially inspiring resource for mental health professionals and lay people alike. There is no index. Annotation ©2013 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (

& Taylor

A psychoanalyst draws upon his twenty-year career to describe the hidden motivations that shape our actions, both ordinary and extraordinary, throughout our lives in an effort to understand a better picture of who we are and what we want.

Publisher: New York : W.W. Norton & Company, 2013
Edition: 1st American ed
ISBN: 9780393079548
Branch Call Number: 150.19 GRO 2013
Characteristics: xii, 225 p. ; 22 cm


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Jul 22, 2018

This book didn't turn out to be anything like I expected, but it was still enjoyable. It is essentially a series of case studies, as one reviewer points out, without background information. I found it to be an easy read, but I can see why some would be disappointed with the content.

manoush Dec 29, 2014

This is a series of brief case histories that the psychoanalyst has encountered throughout his career, including one affecting vignette involving Grosz's father. Grosz does very little to orient or lead the reader in analyzing each patient's story. He simply tells the story and mostly leaves it up to the reader to make sense of it on her own, with minimal analysis and insight. In that sense the case histories read like inscrutable short stories, open to multiple and conflicting interpretations. The first cluster of cases are the most obvious to decipher; they're all cases of adults who have been profoundly damaged by abuse or neglect during childhood. But the rest of the case histories strike out in different directions, some of them about individual idiosyncracies or traumas or illnesses. There's a cumulatively melancholy effect to reading this book, probing as it does the sobering terrain of psychic trauma and unhappiness.

Mar 19, 2014

I can't remember why I chose to read this book... Either recommended to me or I read about it in an article. Anyway, The Examined Life was a thoroughly enjoyable read. I'm glad I found it.


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