Books

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…