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The Examined Life

author: Stephen Grosz (2014)
date read: April 2017
rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

The book is told as a series of short stories about different patients – what happened when they came for their consultations, the “aha” moment when Grosz worked out the underlying issue, and some discussion of how the themes of the patient’s problems might be more widely applicable.

I found it intriguing. That’s a good word. Each story is short, and we only get a brief glimpse into each of their lives. Each one feels fresh and compelling, and I found myself wanting to read ‘just one more’ – all the way to the end of the book. Many of the stories were relatable, whether to me personally or to somebody I knew, and reading how the author dealt with the patients was helpful.

Not everything has a resolution – but I think that’s a good thing. If everything wrapped up neatly in a bow, it would feel less real.

It does feel a bit voyeuristic, peering into these people’s lives for a tiny snippet. At the back of my head I was wondering how I’d feel if it was me.

Overall I’m glad I read it, and I feel a bit more aware of my own problems and limitations – a common theme is that what seems obvious to the reader is oblivious to the patients – how might that be affecting me? And as a side note, this book is pushing me off the fence towards looking into therapy sessions for myself.

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