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Cooper, P.C. (2005). The Good Life: Psychoanalytic Reflections on Love, Ethics, Creativity and Spirituality. By Jeffrey B. Rubin. Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 2004. 129 pp.. Psychoanal. Rev., 92(4):649-650.

(2005). Psychoanalytic Review, 92(4):649-650


The Good Life: Psychoanalytic Reflections on Love, Ethics, Creativity and Spirituality. By Jeffrey B. Rubin. Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 2004. 129 pp.

Review by:
Paul C. Cooper, M.S., NCPSYAS

To my mind, this is an excellent book, written in a style that is immediately accessible both to the lay reader and to the clinician. The writing is personal and informal, yet Rubin does not compromise his typically high level of scholarship drawn from a broad range of sources that includes psychoanalysis, literature, poetry, philosophy and the world's religious and mystical tradition. The impact of the text conveys the passion for life that Rubin addresses. He gives voice to many of the feelings and concerns of an emerging generation of psychoanalysts who increasingly are not so concerned as our forefathers were with a need to legitimize psychoanalysis by remaining wedded to the sciences. They are willing to explore the spiritual, creative, artistic, non-linear aspects of the free-associative discourse and inquiry that defines psychoanalysis as a subjective and an intersubjective endeavor.

Rubin argues that the healing, enriching and sustaining potential inherent in psychoanalysis has been largely ignored and/or dismissed by society at large and within the field itself: he states that “articulating these contributions is crucial to the renewal of psychoanalysis in the twenty-first century” (p. ix). This argument is expressed cogently and convincingly through a sharp sense of questioning and negation in an insightful deconstruction of many of the myths that he believes have encumbered contemporary psychoanalysis and that have interfered with its continued growth, usefulness and relevance for contemporary life. However, Rubin maintains a balance by offering the reader a creative, thoughtful, life-affirming reconstruction if one is willing to honestly confront old assumptions. He asserts: “… psychoanalysis makes affirmation no less than negation crucial” (p. 96). The offered reflections reveal a non-dualist approach, which extends a method of thinking about subject matter that has permeated Rubin's writing since the publication of Psychotherapy and Buddhism: Toward an Integration (1996). For example, he observes, “one can question and affirm, even as one deconstructs and undermines” (p. 96).

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