The book, The Philosophical Practitioner, is a surprisingly interesting novel about a man who makes a living by talking to people about their moral dilemmas, and struggles of navigating life. His somewhat mundane life is interrupted when a femme fatale enters his office. He is left trying to figure out what sort of quandary he has gotten himself into.
We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak. – Epictetus
I just listened to the book, I Hear You: The Surprisingly Simple Skill Behind Extraordinary Relationships. The book is a good reminder about what it takes to be a good listener. So often we are not really listening, but merely waiting to reply. The book reminds us to stop, think and try to understand where another person is coming from before responding to them.
Existentialism (as I see it) is the idea that we can explain human behavior according to reasons (choices), not causes. To this end, I have been interested to read how existentialism is used as a practical tool to help people understand themselves and their lives. I picked up the book, Existential Perspectives On Coaching, edited by Emmy van Deurzen, to see if I could gain insight into how coaches use the existential approach to help people with problems in living.
The book, Stepping out of Plato’s Cave: Philosophical Counseling, Philosophical Practice, and Self-Transformation, was an interesting read about how one philosophical counselor who uses philosophy to help his clients understand and improve their lives. The author Ran Lahav, uses Plato’s Cave allegory to try to help people understand how they may be enslaving themselves inside a self-chosen cave.
The book, Plato, Not Prozac!: Applying Eternal Wisdom to Everyday Problems, by Lou Marinoff, is one part sales pitch, and one part advice about how to live a life in accordance with the author’s personal values. Marinoff begins the book by arguing that problems in living are better solved by thinking philosophically rather than thinking medically. Rather than numbing ourselves with medication, or diagnosing oneself as mentally ill, Marinoff says we would be better off engaging in philosophical dialogue with another person.
The book, Practicing Thomas Szasz: Continuing the Work of the Philosopher of Liberty, has little to do with practicing Thomas Szasz. Instead, the author John Breeding tries to fit Szasz into his own version of what he thinks Szasz represents – a raised fist to psychiatry.
Feeling Good Together: The Secret to Making Troubled Relationships Work, is a book about relationships by psychiatrist David Burns. As the subtitle implies, Burns claims to have the secret to making troubled relationships work. What is this secret you might ask? In a nutshell: If you want to make a troubled relationship work, one person needs to change. Since it is nearly impossible to change others, you must change yourself.
Does a person have a right to take drugs, grow plants, and self-medicate in the privacy of their own home? In the book, Our Right to Drugs: The Case for a Free Market, Thomas Szasz points out obvious: people have taken drugs since time immemorial, they take drugs to make themselves feel better, induce unusual experiences, and to cure themselves of ailments. For the libertarian, this is common sense, for everyone else, this is heresy.
Thomas Szasz’s book of witty aphorisms, The Untamed Tongue: A Dissenting Dictionary, is both insightful and hilarious. If you are just starting out with Szasz, and want to understand his views, I suggest one of his books of aphorisms, such as The Untamed Tongue as a place to start.
In his book, The Meaning of Mind: Language, Morality and Neuroscience, Thomas Szasz explains his concept of the mind. Szasz’s writes: “My aim of this book is to present a systematic exploration and exposition of the thesis that minding is the ability to pay attention and adapt to one’s environment by using language to communicate with others and oneself”.1
Victor Frankl’s book, Man’s Search for Meaning documents his experiences in concentration camps during Nazi occupation. During this time, Frankl lost his wife, his brother and parents in concentration camps. The first half of the book is a disturbing tale about how Jews should find meaning through Nazi dehumanization, while the second half of the book entitled, Logotherapy in a Nutshell, is a sales pitch for Frankl’s pseudo-religious therapy called, Logotherapy.
Can a person live a flourishing, purpose-filled life in spite of chronic illness and near constant pain? According to author Suzy Szasz, the answer is a resounding, “yes”. Szasz’s book, Lupus. Living With It: Why You Don’t Have To Be Healthy to Be Happy, is written with an enthusiasm for life. Despite her constant battle with the exhausting chronic illness, Lupus, Szasz retains her meaning in life by refusing to become a victim of her disease.