Psychoanalysis and Buddhism: An Unfolding Dialogue

ISBN: 0861713427
ISBN 13: 9780861713424
By: Jeremy D. Safran

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About this book

Psychoanalysis and Buddhism pairs Buddhist psychotherapists together with leading figures in psychoanalysis who have a general interest in the role of spirituality in psychology. The resulting essays present an illuminating discourse on these two disciplines and how they intersect. This landmark book challenges traditional thoughts on psychoanalysis and Buddhism and propels them to a higher level of understanding.

Reader's Thoughts


Great article on being nobody and being somebody. Explores how the self is defined in psychoanalysis and in Buddhism or spiritual practice. Discusses in detail why those who have attained a degree of self consciousness through spiritual practice are still neurotic. Talks about the overlap between the two and the inevitable questions and confusion that come up when one is involved in a spiritual discipline which affects the ego. The article is about Jack Engler and he speaks from his own experience after many years as a practicing psychoanalyst and Buddhist. Haven't read the other articles but this one is I feel the clearest account I've ever read of this relationship. Not trivial, doesn't just gloss over the hard problems with conventional answers.

Frank Jude

This anthology of essays came out in 2003, since when it has sat on my shelf until this year, when I decided to finally read it as a kind of preparation for a dialogue I was invited to participate in with psychoanalyst Jeffrey Rubin. This book is interestingly set up as "An Unfolding Dialogue" with "core" essays written by various psychoanalysts who have practiced and integrated aspects of buddhism into their work such as Jack Engler, Mark Finn, Sara Weber, Jospeh Bobrow, Barry Magid, Polly Young-Eisendrath and Jeffrey Rubin. Then, shorter responses, written by other psychoanalysts with varying degrees of familiarity with buddhism, such as Charles Spezzano, Philip Ringstrom, and Stephen Mitchell "critique" the essays, raising questions that the original authors then respond to.Interesting, and uneven. Some dialogues are truly thought-provoking, shedding light on both the similarities and differences between the various psychoanalytic traditions and the various buddhist traditions. Some are less successful, the worst, most turgid, in my opinion is Raul Moncayo's essay on Lacanian psychoanalytical practice in relation to zen buddhism (Moncayo being both a Lacanian AND a zen priest!). What I got from his essay is Lacan and zen share obscurant, overly impenetrable bullshit. It was a strain just to get through the verbiage!Still, I'd recommend this book to anyone interested in the intersections between these two practices that aim to address similar human existential suffering.

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