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Publisher's Summary

Trauma does not just happen to a few unlucky people; it is the bedrock of our psychology. Death and illness touch us all, but even the everyday sufferings of loneliness and fear are traumatic. In The Trauma of Everyday Life renowned psychiatrist and author of Thoughts Without a Thinker, Mark Epstein uncovers the transformational potential of trauma, revealing how it can be used for the mind's own development. Western psychology teaches that if we understand the cause of trauma, we might move past it while many drawn to Eastern practices see meditation as a means of rising above, or distancing themselves from, their most difficult emotions. Both, Epstein argues, fail to recognize that trauma is an indivisible part of life and can be used as a lever for growth and an ever-deeper understanding of change. When we regard trauma with this perspective, understanding that suffering is universal and without logic, our pain connects us to the world on a more fundamental level. The way out of pain is through it.

Epstein’s discovery begins in his analysis of the life of Buddha, looking to how the death of his mother informed his path and teachings. The Buddha’s spiritual journey can be read as an expression of primitive agony grounded in childhood trauma. Yet the Buddha’s story is only one of many in The Trauma of Everyday Life. Here, Epstein looks to his own experience, that of his patients, and of the many fellow sojourners and teachers he encounters as a psychiatrist and Buddhist. They are alike only in that they share in trauma, large and small, as all of us do. Epstein finds throughout that trauma, if it doesn’t destroy us, wakes us up to both our minds’ own capacity and to the suffering of others. It makes us more human, caring, and wise. It can be our greatest teacher, our freedom itself, and it is available to all of us.

©2013 Mark Epstein, M.D. (P)2013 Gildan Media LLC

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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This is what i call a GREAT book

If you must read one book on pain, suffering ..etc then let it be this one ...
But let me first clarify that this is a Buddhist book filled with the teachings of the Buddha ...it is also filled with information about the life of the Buddha, but that usually comes with a purpose ...
I cannot praise this book enough ... as it helped me finally OPEN my eyes to reality instead of dreaming away with all the self-help junk i have read throughout the years ..
An insightful ... sobering ... well written book
note: i didn't like the narration at all ...

12 of 12 people found this review helpful

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Good information, maybe fire the speed reader?

Would you try another book from Mark Epstein M.D. and/or Walter Dixon?

I plan on reading more from Mark Epstein, but I doubt I'll ever read anything narrated by Walter Dixon.

What didn’t you like about Walter Dixon’s performance?

The message of the book sometimes and somehow overcame the Evelyn Wood speed reading disciple's performance. Maybe it was electronically sped up? It's ironic that such a book that's somewhat about slowing down to reflect, was performed so speedily.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Trauma of the Buddhas Everyday Life

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

Folks with an interest in a psychoanalysis of the Buddha.

What could Mark Epstein M.D. have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

Nothing. It is just a subject I have no interest in. I feel The title, and representation of the book was misleading.

What didn’t you like about Walter Dixon’s performance?

His reading had a sense of urgency to it. Sounded as though he was time limited.

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Trauma of Everyday Life?

I would definitely cut all the analysis.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Emotionally Changed My Life

I've experienced so much trauma in my life & did not know how to process or deal with the aftermath. This book was suggested to me by my Counselor & I highly recommend to everyone!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Jeff
  • Arlington, VA
  • 10-04-15

Probably better to read vs listen to

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

The content of the book was great. Nice combination of the history of the Buddha, and modern examples of his teachings through Epstein's work and personal experiences. But it is a LOT to absorb, and coupled with the speed reading narrator, it was personally too hard to keep up. Probably better to read the actual book where you have time to highlight passages, take notes, etc.

What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

I enjoyed learning more about the Buddha and how his life experiences influenced his teachings

How did the narrator detract from the book?

He just read way too fast, with no pauses. A lot of the content here is kind of complex, and when you read it so fast it is hard to process.

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Trauma of Everyday Life?

There was a lot of technical terms and definitions. Would have been nice to slow the pace down and not dump so much information in every passage. Maybe go back more, revisit earlier topics. Or not try to cover so much information in one book?

Any additional comments?

I will certainly check out more of Epstein's work, but not if it is narrated by Walter Dixon

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Changed My Life

The only way out is through

You feel Epstein's language in your body. His writing and reasoning resonates on a level deeper than intellect

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Struggle to get thru.

Repetitious. Constant rehashing about Buddha's struggle with loss of mom..over and over and over. I wanted to say STOP about the mother and MOVE ON!!

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The golden wind as holding environment

What did you love best about The Trauma of Everyday Life?

Through exploration of stories of the Buddha, Epstein allows us to recognize, acknowledge, and accept the inherently traumatic nature of our everyday experience. With these stories of the Buddha's journey to enlightenment, he weaves in philosophy (e.g., Husserl), psychoanalysis (e.g., Winnicott), developmental psychology and brain science. The result is a lucid explication of the inherently intersubjective nature of existence and the value of implicit relational knowing. The latter has perhaps been referred in the Buddhist cannon as the golden wind. The golden wind seems to be emblematic of the necessity of bringing of attention, acknowledgment, and acceptance of our experience, across the positive and the negative, the painful, the pleasureful, the neutral, in order to discover self as well as other. The golden wind may be in psychoanalysis the essence of the healing relationship between therapist and client; in developmental psychology the good enough mother-child relationship, and in meditation the open awareness evoked in mindfulness meditation. As I read this book, I could not help but be drawn to see his argument as an excellent portrayal of recent calls to honor our "right brain" way of "being" and to quiet the "left brain" way of "doing, grasping and manipulating" as described by the neuroscientist Iain McGilchrist ("The Master and his Emissary"-another must read). Thank you Mark Epstein for this lovely book.

Who was your favorite character and why?

the Buddha

What three words best describe Walter Dixon’s voice?

bit too fast

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

yes

Any additional comments?

The speed made following the audio version somewhat challenging, just little too fast to process while listening. Interspersing reading with listening worked better.

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Very poor reader. Unable to listen.

This is an amazing book, but the audible portion of it was horrible. It sounds like the reader is a computer. I really hope that somebody else can do a reading of this book in an adequate manner. It is so unfair to the author because it's such a great book.

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  • MB
  • 11-06-16

Original and beautifully woven

Epstein's interpretation of the life of the Buddha through a psychotherapeutic lens offers new insights into how both Buddhist and psychotherapeutic can heal everyday trauma. The author's personal illustrations make this book a gem.