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True, this is not light listening. Often intellectually dense, it's a collection of articles and essays written over several years, arranged chronologically, and unfortunately the earliest pieces, right at the beginning of the book, are the ones with the most technical language, written for an academic audience before Epstein's writing style had gotten past the doctoral dissertation stage. ***But hang in there!*** As the book progresses, the style lightens up and the concepts get easier to understand.
And what concepts! Epstein is the point man in the investigation of the intersection of Freudian psychotherapy and Buddhist meditative practice. There's just no one else who has thought about the subject so deeply and personally explored it so extensively. And he does it with a deep respect for both perspectives, knocking down many of the myths about both that prevent people from taking advantage of them.
• Freud recommended a specific listening method for therapists, "evenly suspended attention" … essentially the same wide-open, non-judging, non-interpreting approach as mindfulness meditation. But the instruction was too steep for his disciples to follow, and they immediately dumbed it down, even distorting the English translation of his phrasing.
• Epstein goes deep into the Buddhist concept of "emptiness" and incisively describes the many ways it's misunderstood — in particular, how the narcissist, the depressive, etc., each tend to distort the concept to shore up their neurosis instead of letting it go.
• Epstein also introduces the work of the child psychologist Winnicott, who was new to me, and who brings in very exciting stuff about the playful, open mind of the child and its equivalence to the playful, open mind of the artist, and the "beginner's mind" of Zen.
Much credit goes to the narrator. Sluyter does an outstanding job of vocally breaking down what could otherwise sound like forbiddingly abstract concepts, infusing the material with clarity and energy.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?
What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?
I didn't get to that part. I was very disappointed. I am a MAMFT atudent at a seminary. I am not a Christian, and wanted a sense of providing clinical therapy from a buddhist perspective. I would read this book to give it a second chance, but i would return the audible book. The hour in which i listened to the book sounded like a dissertation. Not something I need to listen to on the interstate at 6am. I know, from listening to Brain Rules, and Aging as a Spiritual Practice (see reviews) that a narrator can make or break a book, and the best books are those that 'teach' well about difficult subjects. In other words, you can't wait to hear the next chapter! This audible book appeared to lack both advantages, and I need to emphasize that fact. There is a big difference betweem writing a dissertation and writing a book for a general population, no matter if the topic is interesting. If it is not presented for the audience to understand; re-think the stance.
What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?
I did not like the performance.
What character would you cut from Psychotherapy Without the Self: A Buddhist Perspective?
This is not a work of fiction.
Any additional comments?
The historic summary of 'western' Buddhism is interesting, and a good explanation of how Americans often abberate belief systems to fit their own mold of secular 'spirituality' , removing authenticity of a very honorable philosophy and way of life.
3 of 5 people found this review helpful