Psychotherapy without the Self: A Buddhist Perspective (Paperback)

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Psychotherapy without the Self: A Buddhist Perspective By Mark Epstein Cover Image
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Staff Reviews


This is a therapeutically invaluable collection from practicing Buddhist and psychoanalyst Mark Epstein. Epstein's work on the psychodynamics of meditation is both lovely and useful; and his writing about narcissism —  more or less constitutive of subjectivity, the twin antipodes of which consist in a mutual emptiness — is a rigorously great rebuttal to the popularization of the term as a synonym for 'selfishness.' Should you require a sense of the author's partisanship in a fractious field, I'd add that his is some of the best and most generative writing on Winnicott I've encountered. 

— Cam


Insights on the interface between Buddhist teachings and Western psychotherapy by the best-selling author of Thoughts without a Thinker

Immersed in Buddhist psychology prior to studying Western psychiatry, Dr. Mark Epstein first viewed Western therapeutic approaches through the lens of the East. This posed something of a challenge. Although both systems promise liberation through self-awareness, the central tenet of Buddha's wisdom is the notion of no-self, while the central focus of Western psychotherapy is the self. This book, which includes writings from the past twenty-five years, wrestles with the complex relationship between Buddhism and psychotherapy and offers nuanced reflections on therapy, meditation, and psychological and spiritual development. A best-selling author and popular speaker, Epstein has long been at the forefront of the effort to introduce Buddhist psychology to the West.  His unique background enables him to serve as a bridge between the two traditions, which he has found to be more compatible than at first thought.  Engaging with the teachings of the Buddha as well as those of Freud and Winnicott, he offers a compelling look at desire, anger, and insight and helps reinterpret the Buddha's Four Noble Truths and centralconcepts such as egolessness and emptiness in the psychoanalytic language of our time.

About the Author

Mark Epstein, M.D., is a psychiatrist in private practice and clinical assistant professor of psychology at New York University. His previous books include Thoughts without a Thinker, Going to Pieces without Falling Apart, Open to Desire¸ and Going On Being.

Praise For…

"The book is an autobiographical journey based on the author's personal experience and professional expertise, backed up by solid research findings from Buddhist scholars and well-known psychologists. . . . Ultimately, the author finds that both Buddhism and psychology can foster the willingness to be fully alive through accepting the unknown in ourselves. What is key is how in touch we are with what we are internalizing, even in our confusion."—Library Journal

"Much of [Epstein's] life's work has been an effort to integrate Buddhism and Western psychotherapy. . . . Epstein is a clear writer and an insightful guide through the labyrinth. Psychotherapy without the Self has the odd effect of lightness: Burdens long carried seem to drop away as you read."—Susan Salter Reynolds, Newsday and Los Angeles Times

"Required reading for anyone interested in understanding concepts like narcissism, integration, unintegration, and liberation. . . . Highly recommended."—Choice

"Required reading for anyone interested in understanding concepts like narcissism, integration, un-integration, and liberation. . . . Highly recommended."—Choice

"One of the most rewarding books I have read in some time."—R. K. Dickson, The Bloomsbury Review

"An excellent introduction and amplification of connections between Buddhism and psychotherapy and what they contribute to our understanding of the human condition. This is not just an interesting read, but a meaningful one."—Michael Eigen, author of Feeling Matters and The Sensitive Self

"Psychotherapy without the Self is mandatory reading for anyone seeking to understand today's axial event in psychoanalysis—the encounter of the Freudian and subsequent schools with the Buddhist psychological tradition. Epstein's insights are utterly penetrating, brilliant in uncanny comparisons and clear critical contrasts, altogether illuminating. It is elegantly and wittily written—a real pleasure to read. And don't worry, there is a self, just different from the one that can't be found!"—Robert A. F. Thurman, Jey Tsong Khapa Professor of Buddhist Studies, Columbia University, author of Inner Revolution and Infinite Life

Product Details
ISBN: 9780300143133
ISBN-10: 0300143133
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publication Date: October 28th, 2008
Pages: 272
Language: English