The Examined Life by Stephen Grosz
So significant that it should be read by absolutely everyone, Stephen Grosz’s The Examined Life is a masterpiece of observation and empathy. By turns disturbing and intensely moving, this book explores layers of human experience through the psychoanalyst’s lens. Presented in 30 case studies, Grosz instils in his reader a sense of peering into the brains of others, which has the curious, if unsurprising, side effect of causing one to question own thoughts, dreams and actions.
Some of these tales are heart-wrenching, others concerning, and all with the strength to impact profoundly. This is partly their power as pointers of human nature and its quirks, and partly Grosz’s storytelling, which is gripping and direct. One senses a close sympathy of Grosz with his patients, one that has gone deeper than a professional duty to reflect his ability to tease out people’s intricate secrets, complexities and insecurities as the clearly talented psychoanalyst he is.
This is a book that stays with you after the final page, for reasons beyond those that can be named here. Reading this is a personal experience, one that does not occur that often and one that makes these stories all the more authoritative. Forget self-help books, read The Examined Life as a mirror into your own world – you might be surprised what you might find there. Grosz has bestowed a gift on humanity, and thanks must surely go to his patients, who are inspirational in more ways than they know.
The Examined Life is published by Chatto & Windus at the paperback price of £8.99, and is available now in the UK. For further information visit here.