A highly relatable collection of anecdotes that serves as a valuable crash course on the pitfalls, seductions, and rewards...

A psychoanalyst dissects the raptures and torments of love through a series of case studies.

With 40 years of experience as a psychoanalyst, Safer (Cain's Legacy: Liberating Siblings from a Lifetime of Rage, Shame, Secrecy, and Regret, 2012) has played confidante to innumerable secrets of love, from heartbreak to ecstasy. Building on her variety of experiences in the field, the author compiles the notable stories in this compendium, attempting to illuminate the mysteries of love that have so confounded, fooled, and transfixed humanity for centuries. Among the case studies Safer relates from her professional experience and personal life are tales of subjugation, betrayal, and the incapacity for love. The author even recounts her own story of unrequited love when, as a naïve 19-year-old, she “fell passionately in love with a man that meant far more to me than I did to him” and withheld the details of the affair for nearly 50 years out of shame. But Safer is not solely interested in sexual love. She also relates many stories of friendship, including her first experience of loss during her separation from her roommate and best friend at college. Though the stories of jealously and embitterment are salaciously entertaining, Safer closes the collection with a section on fulfilled love. Perhaps most heartwarming is the chapter on late-life first marriage, which defies typical conventions of love as a young person’s game and serves as an uplifting and optimistic ending to the woes and travails of love lost and regretted. Throughout the author’s many different examples, her analysis is mostly Freudian-based (with additional credit to Heinz Kohut, “the founder of psychoanalytic self psychology”), and her insights are astute. However, since psychoanalysis has fallen out of favor, some may find that her conclusions lack empirical clarity.

A highly relatable collection of anecdotes that serves as a valuable crash course on the pitfalls, seductions, and rewards of love.

Pub Date: April 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-250-05575-0

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Picador

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2016


Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...

A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner summarizes and synthesizes the recent decades of research on intuition and systematic thinking.

The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman (Emeritus Psychology and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. He begins with the distinction between System 1 and System 2 mental operations, the former referring to quick, automatic thought, the latter to more effortful, overt thinking. We rely heavily, writes, on System 1, resorting to the higher-energy System 2 only when we need or want to. Kahneman continually refers to System 2 as “lazy”: We don’t want to think rigorously about something. The author then explores the nuances of our two-system minds, showing how they perform in various situations. Psychological experiments have repeatedly revealed that our intuitions are generally wrong, that our assessments are based on biases and that our System 1 hates doubt and despises ambiguity. Kahneman largely avoids jargon; when he does use some (“heuristics,” for example), he argues that such terms really ought to join our everyday vocabulary. He reviews many fundamental concepts in psychology and statistics (regression to the mean, the narrative fallacy, the optimistic bias), showing how they relate to his overall concerns about how we think and why we make the decisions that we do. Some of the later chapters (dealing with risk-taking and statistics and probabilities) are denser than others (some readers may resent such demands on System 2!), but the passages that deal with the economic and political implications of the research are gripping.

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-27563-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011



This a book of earlier, philosophical essays concerned with the essential "absurdity" of life and the concept that- to overcome the strong tendency to suicide in every thoughtful man-one must accept life on its own terms with its values of revolt, liberty and passion. A dreary thesis- derived from and distorting the beliefs of the founders of existentialism, Jaspers, Heldegger and Kierkegaard, etc., the point of view seems peculiarly outmoded. It is based on the experience of war and the resistance, liberally laced with Andre Gide's excessive intellectualism. The younger existentialists such as Sartre and Camus, with their gift for the terse novel or intense drama, seem to have omitted from their philosophy all the deep religiosity which permeates the work of the great existentialist thinkers. This contributes to a basic lack of vitality in themselves, in these essays, and ten years after the war Camus seems unaware that the life force has healed old wounds... Largely for avant garde aesthetes and his special coterie.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 1955

ISBN: 0679733736

Page Count: 228

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1955

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