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The Examined Life


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Longlisted for the Guardian first book award, a Sunday Times bestseller and Radio 4 Book of the Week. 'Marvellous' (The Times), 'Excellent' (Guardian), 'Completely magical' (Mail on Sunday)

About the Author

Stephen Grosz is a practicing psychoanalyst - he has worked with patients for more than twenty-five years. Born in America, he was educated at the University of California, Berkeley, and at Oxford University, and now lives in London. The Examined Life has been translated into more than twenty languages and was longlisted for the Guardian First Book


Grosz could get technical if he wanted to-he teaches clinical technique and psychoanalytic theory at London's Institute of Psychoanalysis and University College London, respectively-but he believes the best way to prove the power of storytelling is to practice what he preaches. Drawing from two decades of experience as a working psychoanalyst, Grosz bases the bulk of his claims on the tales of his patients, which range from traumatic boarding school experiences to failed romances and terminal illness. They are compassionately told and eminently readable, but skeptical readers will likely lament the lack of scientific analysis. But then again, that's Grosz's whole point-science needn't be at the forefront if cathartic personal narrative is the focus. The crucial role of storytelling in forming one's sense of self and of the world seems to be a given among psychoanalysts and writers, but Grosz goes further to demonstrate the ways in which stories, when unspoken, manifest themselves as symptoms of psychological distress. Quick leaps from focused accounts to grand conclusions sometimes disrupt the rhetorical arc of the book, though this in itself might be in keeping with the overall idea that narratives are messy, unpredictable, and somehow, in spite of all of these things, inherently useful-if not always in the words, then in the silences between them. Agent: David Miller, Rogers, Coleridge & White Ltd. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

"I was enthralled... profound and moving, packed large ideas into a slim volume" -- Lucy Lethbridge * Observer Books of the Year *
"With deceptive simplicity and gentle wisdom, Grosz teases out a lesson or chases down a fugitive insight. I have distrusted psychoanalysis for years, but I would leap onto Grosz's couch" -- James McConnachie * The Sunday Times Books of the Year *
"This moving book of patient portraits by the psychoanalyst Stephen Grosz will make the reader think of Freud's keenly observed and literary-minded case studies. Writing with sympathy and insight, Mr Grosz distils 25 years of work into a series of slim, piercing chapters that read like a combination of Chekhov and Oliver Sacks" -- Michiko Kakutani * New York Times *
"The success of The Examined Life by the psychoanalyst Stephen Grosz has, I think, relatively little to do with his clinical know-how; it rests, as Freud's did, on his story-telling abilities" -- Rachel Cooke * Observer *
"Grosz is a superb storyteller and tells lots of his patients' stories with sensitivity, but also with great acuity. You might keep thinking you recognise things about people you know" -- William Leith * Evening Standard *

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