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The Examined Life

Narrated by: Peter Marinker
Length: 5 hrs and 20 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (1,946 ratings)

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Summary

We are all storytellers - through stories, we make sense of our lives. But it is not enough to tell tales. There must be someone to listen. In his work as a psychoanalyst, Stephen Grosz has spent the last 25 years uncovering the hidden feelings behind our most baffling behaviour.

The Examined Life distils over 50,000 hours of conversation into pure psychological insight, without the jargon. This extraordinary book is about one ordinary process: talking, listening, and understanding. Its aphoristic and elegant stories teach us a new kind of attentiveness. They also unveil a delicate self-portrait of the analyst at work, and show how lessons learned in the consulting room can reveal as much to him as to the patient. These are stories about our everyday lives: about the people we love and the lies that we tell; the changes we bear, and the grief. Ultimately, they show us not only how we lose ourselves but how we might find ourselves, too.

©2013 Stephen Grosz (P)2014 Audible, Inc.

Critic reviews

"I couldn't put this down-I read about other people, but learned about myself at the same time. Real stories can be so much more fascinating than fictional ones, especially with Stephen Grosz. No preaching, no clichés-just wisdom." (Victoria Hislop )

"Grosz's vignettes are so brilliantly put together that they read like pieces of bare illuminating fiction... It is this combination of tenacious detective work, remarkable compassion and sheer, unending curiosity for the oddities of the human heart that makes these stories utterly captivating."

( Sunday Times)

"Excellent. this book arrives like a box of chocolates. Thirty-one elegantly presented chapters which, when you bite into them, each reveals something sweet, rich or crunchy. Every one of these case histories bears repeating. All offer worthwhile insights." (Susanna Rustin The Guardian)

"Brilliant.. Grosz is a superb writer, yes, but it is the stories his patients tell him that really make you marvel. An elegant, jargon-free expedition into the secret business of our minds written with such wisdom and kindness. After reading [Grosz's] absorbing accounts of his patients' journeys you might feel that The Examined Life ought to be given out free at birth" (Melissa Katsoulis The Times)

"A fine and moving book... The tact, patience and understatement, which are particular components of Grosz's wisdom, remind the reader that this writer's insights and empathy result from thousands of hours with patients. This book is not polemical literature. nor is it an academic work or a popular self-help book. It is a true literary work and a very modern one." (Jewish Chronicle)

What members say

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Excellent

I first heard some of the chapters from this when it was broadcast as Radio 4's book of the week and was so impressed that I had to download the audiobook. It is definitely my listen of the year so far. I loved the insights into people's lives and behaviour and the reasons offered for why we do the things we do really resonated with me. This is beautifully written and the narrator absolutely does justice to the writing with the slow, hypnotic reading. Stephen Grosz' words have stayed with me long after listening. An absolute must for anyone interested in the human experience.

39 of 43 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
  • James
  • Bath, United Kingdom
  • 31-01-13

Great listen, Great Narrator

Really enjoyed this, very different from what I'd normally listen to. There is about 30 stories in here, allowing you to listen in to peoples lives for a while, very engaging. I also loved the narration, it was almost hypnotic which really suited the audiobook.

32 of 36 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Mark
  • Neath, United Kingdom
  • 17-02-13

A meaningful meditation on life

This book was recommended to me by a friend and I'm glad I acted on their prompt. In turn I highly recommend this book to anyone who works in the area of helping people change. It's also a must read for anyone who wants a deeper understanding of their own complexities. As I listened I felt this book was a true meditation on life and all it's uncertainties. I felt a great connection to the often painful stories of the people involved. Stephen Grosz conveys a deep sense of respect and compassion for these people and their stories. I truly felt I had walked a mile in there moccasins after listening to each story. This is aided by narration that is ideally matched to the material, perfectly paced and paused at reflective spaces. Each story contains an underlying piece of advice that will resonate with many people, I will leave you the joy of finding these rather than list them here. I was left with a much deeper and warmer understanding that each of us has our very own view of the world and a set of hopes and wishes we want to be fulfilled. Stephen Grosz's own uncertainty and realisation that there may not always be an answer or a fix is the main learning I took from this book.

34 of 39 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Anthony
  • Sydney, Australia
  • 16-02-13

A gentle book...

This gentle book provides informative insights into psychotherapy. Divided into 31 chapters, each focuses on an issue through the eyes, words, and dream fragments of patients consulting the author. It is nicely written, full of wisdom, and well narrated. I enjoyed the personal insights, anecdotes, and introspection; along with the occasional especially beautifully written segment.

15 of 18 people found this review helpful

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  • vanessa
  • Leicester, United Kingdom
  • 21-01-13

Wonderful book

Every chapter in this book is different and fascinating. Each story is a delightful gem. It's good to discover some excellent writing on psychoanalysis and to be given some insight into the lives and behaviours of the patients in question. All of life is here. I also really liked the narration; the slow and steady pace lends the stories the gravity they deserve.

Highly recommended.

30 of 37 people found this review helpful

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Absorbing but not life-changing

Stephen is a psychoanalyst who walks through many of the clients he has had over the past decades illustrating various psychoanalytic lessons and absorbing human stories.

I liked this book a lot. It was very understated and to me conveyed well the slow and rather meticulous process of psychoanalysis. It was quite moving - but it didn’t make me rethink my whole life or anything.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Layers of life

This book shows how complicated and deeply mysterious life can be. Listening to this book was deeply satisfying, as it counters the fear of randomness of life. All is connected but it takes quiet contemplation to allow it to surface to consciousness.

13 of 17 people found this review helpful

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  • Igor
  • Greenhithe, United Kingdom
  • 11-07-13

Makes you wonder what can you do better

Would you listen to The Examined Life again? Why?

Yes. It's almost like chatting away with someone you know about somebody's else life situation. It gently forces you to rethink your own behaviour and lifestyle to certain extent.

What does Peter Marinker bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

I guess the tone of his voice and the manner of narration puts you right on the soft sofa in front of psychoanalyst.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Not really, this is the book to go chapter by chapter with some time in between to digest the information.

9 of 12 people found this review helpful

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"read it in one go"

This is not my normal read, but how glad am I, I opted for this book this month? Answer: a lot. Totally absorbing from the first word. Couldn't turn off either the book or my mind.

A fascinating read that I will listen to time and time again and get something new from it everything.

If you are interested in the problem of being human you simply must invest in this book. Awesome.

8 of 11 people found this review helpful

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Interesting cases, interpretations too Freudian.

Well written, interesting cases and some good insights from a lot of clinical experience. However, some interpretations of dreams, expressions and attitudes by the author seemed like rigid Freud style psychoanalysis which missed a larger field of possibilities... When you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • SAHIL
  • 30-07-19

This would help you to be more accepting

Pros:
Sometimes it's important to look into other people miseries to understand our own. Why are my parents like that? Why doesn't he ever understand? (not my words )
You will not find an answer to all the problems bothering you, but you'll see that acceptance would become easier.
Finished the audio book mostly during my journeys in New York subway, and boy, I never felt bored. It kept my attention throughout.
cons:
In some chapters I felt that the story ended abruptly - you are with the doctor/author, trying to understand the patient, and as soon as you feel that you have hit onto something significant, the story ends. I would have wished those chapters to continue on for a few more minutes. Would have given me a better sense of finality to the story.

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  • Anonymous123
  • 05-01-19

Memorable stories and explanations

The author tells stories that come from his experience as a psycho-analyst. He then explains the conclusions he reached about why the people did what they did, from a psychoanalytic point of view.

I found the book extremely interesting, and it kept me engaged throughout the book.The narration was also good. Some of these stories were also very memorable, and things that happened after I read the book reminded me about the stories in this book.

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  • Francisco
  • 20-11-17

loved it

me encantó porque es interesante, tiene lecciones de vida muy útiles y lo mejor que que te atrapa.
lo termine en un día hahaha.

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  • Koe
  • 29-03-16

If it is possible to give 100 stars, I would

I don't read many books so it's probably sound shallow to say this is the best I have read. What matters is that I truly enjoy listening to the deep and assuring voice, narrating such a well told story. Stories of real life experiences, on how we lose and find ourselves. Thank you Stephen. Thank you Peter. Thank you Audible :)

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  • Thomas
  • 25-02-16

Fascinating insights into peoples lives

Loved the narration and the stories. The book gives a great insight into the issues people struggle with and how a skilled analyst can help them.