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Science, technology and western liberal democracy have all had a dramatic impact on our quality of life. Compared to previous generations, we have unprecedented access to information, increased personal freedom, more material comforts, more possessions, and greater life expectancy. Yet, a very significant number of people are depressed, anxious, or complain of being unfulfilled. Mental health statistics have never been worse.

The goals of psychotherapy are not so very different from the goals of everyday life. People want to be happy and optimise outcomes. Within the context of the clinic, this is best achieved by focusing on, and eventually removing, symptoms; however, the models developed by psychotherapists have a far broader range of application. Freud used psychoanalysis primarily to treat his patients, but he also used it to explain aspects of civilisation, society, art, literature and the supernatural. As such, the theories and ideas that have arisen out of psychotherapy represent something of an undervalued resource. They are highly instructive and can illuminate many subjects - among them, the question of how to live.

It is remarkable how the models of mind and behaviour arising from the practice of psychotherapy have had such little cultural impact. Shelves sag with self-help books, but most of these relate to specific problems and they do not address the broader challenges of the human condition. Yet, implicit in every model of mind are recommendations for life.

THE ACT OF LIVING treats psychotherapy as a single, cohesive philosophical tradition. It synthesises the thinking of the principal figures in the history of psychotherapy (e.g. Freud, Jung, Adler, Frankl, Rogers, Fromm, Ellis and Laing) with a view to providing the reader with an accessible and practical guide to optimal living.

 

Details

ISBN: 9781408711361
Audience: Tertiary Education (US: College)
Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 352
Publication Date: 14 Jan 2021
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
Publication City, Country: London, United Kingdom
Dimensions (cm): 23.2(H) x 15.2(L) x 3(W)
Weight (gm): 420

 

Reviews

Tallis writes with clarity and wit
Tallis has distilled a wide range of psychological writing without oversimplifying the insights or reducing them to self-help platitudes . . . Tallis is an engaging writer and this is at heart a highly readable, often touching history of the talking cures and some of their most brilliant exponents -- Sebastian Faulks * Sunday Times *
Psychology has its rogues and charlatans but this history reminds you it is a force for good . . . his writing is brisk and clear, his narrative is both thematic and roughly chronological, which is no easy feat of organisation, and studded with heavily disguised case histories -- David Aaronovitch * The Times *
Few psychotherapists write with the clarity of Tallis . . . He also peppers the book with delightful nuggets from the psychological world . . . a gifted storyteller * The Tablet *
An engaging and expansive tour of our modern-day therapeutic landscape * Times Literary Supplement *

 

Author Biography

Dr Frank Tallis is a writer and clinical psychologist. He has held lecturing posts in clinical psychology at the Institute of Psychiatry and neuroscience at King's College London. He has published over 30 scientific papers in international journals and has written a textbook on cognitive and neuropsychological aspects of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). He has written three works of psychology for the lay reader: Changing Minds (a history of psychotherapy), Hidden Minds (a history of the unconscious) and Lovesick (an exploration of the relationship between romantic love and mental illness).
The Act of Living: What the Great Psychologists Can Teach Us About Surviving Discontent in an Age of Anxiety
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