The Examined Life
Stephen Grosz may not be the best known psychoanalyst in Britain, though that might change, but he certainly appears to be the most read, courtesy of a weekly magazine column and a new book, The Examined Life, How We Lose and Fine Ourselves.
He is well known with readers of probably the finest daily newspaper in the world, The Financial Times, for whom Grosz contributed his erudite but reader-friendly analyses to its Saturday magazine for a number of years.
The book therefore, for someone who has been smitten by his style for some time, contains few surprises, though I suspect the individual chapters are extensions of the original articles in most cases.
However, Grosz is always a pleasure to read, and he wisely arranges the chapters as follows: Beginnings, Telling Lies, Loving, Changing and Leaving.
Grosz’s approach is disarming: he doesn’t ask too many questions, or rather he asks only the most relevant and, week after week, or month after month, people from all walks of life, with all manner of neurosis, spill the beans on their past.
Grosz has said that his book of 30 essays is about the desire of people to talk about themselves, and to be understood. Analysis comes across as a magical process. ‘We tap, we listen.’ A recommendable read, especially if your mum is buried beneath the floorboards.