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Black, D.M. (2014). The Trauma of Everyday Life by Mark Epstein. Published by Hay House UK, 2014; 225 pp; £12.99 paperback. Brit. J. Psychother., 30(3):401-404.

(2014). British Journal of Psychotherapy, 30(3):401-404

Book Reviews

The Trauma of Everyday Life by Mark Epstein. Published by Hay House UK, 2014; 225 pp; £12.99 paperback

Review by:
David M. Black

When in 2003 Jeremy Safran published a collection of papers on Buddhism by psychoanalysts and Buddhist meditators, he subtitled it: an unfolding dialogue. That was clearly a correct description. The psychoanalysts involved included such well-known figures as Stephen Mitchell, Stuart Pizer, James Grotstein and Owen Renik. But every one of them, on both sides of the ‘dialogue’, with the single exception of Neville Symington in Australia, was American. For UK analytic thinkers, it was as if we were overhearing an interesting conversation taking place in another room.

This dialogue had its roots in the 1950s, when D. T. Suzuki in particular brought Zen Buddhism to the United States, and independent psychoanalysts such as Fromm and Horney recognized something of the richness and psychological profundity of Buddhist thought. Since then, there has been a big influx of Tibetans and teachers from other schools, and Buddhism has quietly established itself in religious America at a more deeply integrated level of seriousness than has yet been possible (though there are many growing-points) in relatively irreligious Britain. And of course I am begging a question in putting it like that. Is Buddhism a religion?

The return of Buddhism onto the American psychoanalytic scene, in the past 25 years or so, links with the rise of ‘relational’ psychoanalysis, which finds a principal ancestor in Winnicott (so the British don't need to feel left out entirely). Winnicott's ‘no such thing as a baby’ might be the motto above the gates of relational psychoanalysis, and the no-self doctrine of Buddhism (we never are, we only ‘inter-are’, in Thich Nhat Hanh's term) fits neatly into place with such thinking.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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