Books on Psychoanalysis and Buddhism

The Birth of a True Other book cover Relational Conversations on Meeting and Becoming: The Birth of a True Other Michal Barnea-Astrog & Mitchel Becker (Eds.) Routledge, 2023

Demonstrating a relational, dialogic way of thinking and writing, this book offers an innovative perspective on the human potential for intersubjective engagement and on the nature of true encounter.

Reflecting on the essence of relating, the authors engage in creative, associative, interdisciplinary dialogues and trialogues. They offer new concepts and formulations that may nourish psychotherapists’ thought and be usefully implemented in their practice.

Conversing: Mitchel Becker, Michal Barnea-Astrog, Rina Lazar, Irene Bleier Lewenhoff, Yorai Sella, Clara Mucci, Hilit Erel-Brodsky, Hagit Aharoni and Paul R. Fleischman.

This is how it begins:

"In every living moment, an encounter takes place: body and mind meet the elements of reality, inner and outer, material and mental, hidden or overt. This is an encounter between the absorbing and the absorbed, and the psyche relates to it in ways that reflect its unique characteristics, inclinations, history of experiences and motivational investments. The features and contents of these encounters and the manner in which the psyche relates to them are the substances and cement creating and evolving one’s world. The meeting of psyches is the meeting of worlds.

A meeting of worlds means transformation has occurred, an incessant change. What was shall never return. It may become frozen in time, or exiled and lost in space, or be preserved or develop and grow – but either way, the contact has made its mark and left its effect.

The Coming Years book cover The Coming Years Shta'yim, 2022
Available in Hebrew

“One night only the two of them stayed there, awake into the small hours, and looked – each from their place – at the full moon and the deep blue night sky, strewn with silvery star dust. More than once, their eyes met. Imaginary dialogues spun threads between them, invisible but setting aquiver the space between the two sides of the ship’s deck – their existence beyond doubt, not merely in her mind. She would have liked him to come and sit beside her, but he didn't. Maybe better so. And maybe the whole universe is weeping for the possibility that was lost.”

Milla, a young village woman, escapes her preordained life, leaving behind her beloved family and fiancé. This is how the book starts, and it goes on to accompany five life narratives that merge with and continue one another, from the late 15th century, into the not so remote future, in three corners of the world. From Milla to Gabriel, poet and traveler; from Gabriel to Guiomar, a visionary in search of her lost sister; from Guiomar to Shulamit, who navigates between her inner world and her family in times of emergency and in everyday life; and from Shulamit to Ines, who struggles to survive during a mysterious epidemic that damages the brain’s trust circuits, and under an oppressive and cruel regime in a besieged city.

Migration book cover Migration Pardes, 2021
Available in Hebrew

Hadayana lives a life of blissful contemplation on the banks of a great celestial river, until one day gravity descends on her.

She finds herself in our world, getting to know earth and the earthly elements in her, as they awaken and manifest themselves as impulses, senses, and layers of memory. Miriam runs an archive of testimonies from a dark era of humanity, whose details emerge as the narrative unfolds. She shifts between the testimonies and the elusive present, and between the weight of collective trauma and her own personal past. Ulrich, a once-great musician, is struggling to find his way out of loneliness and constriction. On a small island, somewhere in space and time, they meet.

Psychoanalytic and Buddhist Reflections on Gentleness book cover Psychoanalytic and Buddhist Reflections on Gentleness Sensitivity, Fear, and the Drive Towards Truth Routledge, 2019

Inspired by Buddhist teachings and psychoanalytic thought, this book explores gentleness as a way of being and a developmental achievement. It offers reflections on the unique position of ‘gentle people’, as well as certain gentle layers of the psyche in general, as they meet the world. Examining the perceptual-sensory-conscious discrepancy that often exists between a gentle person and their surroundings, it follows the intricate relationship between sensitivity and fear, the need for self-holding, and the possibility of letting go.

Incorporating theoretical investigation, clinical vignettes, and personal contemplation, the book explores those states of mind and qualities of attention that may compose a favorable environment, internal and interpersonal, where gentleness can be delicately held. There, it is suggested, gentleness may gradually shed the fragility, confusion and destructiveness that often get entangled with it, and serve as a valuable recourse.

This is how it begins:

From as long as he remembered himself, Ron had known a sense of fragility. His feelings, he sensed, were always close to the surface – a tender tissue that would crack at the merest touch. It wasn’t a great asset in his childhood neighborhood: a Tel Aviv quarter largely populated by former army personnel. It might not have been much better elsewhere.

Carved by Experience book cover Carved by Experience Vipassana, Psychoanalysis, and the Mind Investigating Itself Karnac, 2017

How does the tendency to crave pleasure and reject pain shape our lives? How does it affect the way we perceive reality, and how is it related to the emergence of suffering, its experience and transmission? Can we live free of this tendency, beyond the pleasure principle?

Carved by Experience approaches these questions by examining the psychoanalytic concepts of projection and projective identification in the light of early Buddhist thought. It looks at the personal and the interpersonal, at theory, meta-theory, and everyday life. It observes how the mind’s habits mold the human condition, and investigates its ability to free itself from their domination. It explores the potential of this liberation: to be in touch with reality as it is and live a less reactive, more ethical life.

This is how it begins:

We are used to thinking about desire and hate as momentous mental events, as good material for a dramatic film, or as key actors in our own personal drama. However, desire and hate occur incessantly in our minds, at more subtle and less obvious levels. A person wakes up in the morning after too short a night, his head aches, and all he can think about is…