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Mixing Minds: The Power of Relationship in Psychoanalysis and Buddhism (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 1. Dezember 2010

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"With this remarkable book, the dialogue between Buddhism and psychoanalysis has finally come of age. In a voice that is intimate, humorous, and at the same time wise and sophisticated, Jennings takes us on a fascinating and deeply rewarding voyage of discovery." (from the foreword by Jeremy D. Safran, editor of Psychoanalysis and Buddhism: An Unfolding Dialogue)

"An engaging account that puts the relational encounter of two human beings at the center of both practices. Jennings enriches stories about her own analyst and her Tibetan lama with an easy and wide-ranging fluency in both psychoanalytic theory and Buddhist thought." (Barry Magid, author of Ending the Pursuit of Happiness)

"Mixing Minds is at once skillfully dialogical and comparative, showing how Buddhist and psychoanalytic notions of relationality may be complementary without either being reduced to the terms of the other." (Mark Unno, editor of Buddhism and Psychotherapy across Cultures)

"With a deeply personal, erudite, and poetic voice Pilar Jennings tackles the paradox inherent in all the Buddhist traditions: while the Buddha attained his enlightenment as a solitary effort, we must do so in relationship. And Mixing Minds makes you yearn for just that kind of transformative relationship." (Arnie Kozak, author of Wild Chickens and Petty Tyrants)

"Jennings is a long-time practicing Buddhist and psychotherapist, who is well-placed to discuss how contrasting approaches to wellness can affect our relationships. She explores the synergy, examining why the focus on relationships is relevant to religion and how, although they do differ, Buddhism and psychoanalysis are actually compatible healing traditions. A useful and readable adjunct to the libraries of Buddhist students, and people in analysis, as well as their analysts: in fact, anyone who wants to be well and free from suffering." (Mandala Magazine: Editors Choice)

Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende

Pilar Jennings is a psychotherapist and psychoanalyst who has focused on the clinical applications of Buddhist meditation practice. She received her doctorate in psychiatry and religion from Union Theological Seminary where she teaches and has been working with patients and their families through the Harlem Family Institute since 2004.

Jeremy D. Safran, PhD, is a professor of clinical psychology at the New School for Social Research in New York. He received his doctorate in psychology from the University of British Columbia in 1982 and his postdoctoral certification in psychoanalysis from New York University in 2001. To learn more about his psychotherapy research lab, visit

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How the two may meet, east and west, mind and spirit 6. Dezember 2010
Von John L Murphy - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Taschenbuch
Since her unconventional childhood meditating and studying Buddhism, Pilar Jennings brings her professional expertise and personal experience into this rewarding, if challenging, study. Both analyst and analysand, her background in both insight (vipassana) and Tibetan approaches to Buddhism enriches her clinical case studies and psychiatric applications. The result opens up methods where dialogue--and confrontation with the self amidst others in the journey towards psychic healing and spiritual integration--presents advocates of these traditions with possibilities of how they may co-exist more harmoniously. In Buddhism and psychiatry, interpersonal relationships matter most for her.

She begins with her own story. Dr. Jennings emphasizes that no mature understanding of psychoanalysis or Buddhism can rely on facile summaries. Her study, grounded in theory but alighting on her everyday life, delves into both approaches. Here a student and teacher, patient and doctor, come together to help the injured recover a sense of wholeness. She favors emptiness, a fundamental dharma concept, as essential. She suggests that counselors open themselves and their clients up to a more playful, open-ended evolution of their psychic encounters into the "pregnant void" where the fluid Buddhist model, of no-self and impermanence, allows more freedom for both the expert provider and the searching supplicant.

Coming to terms with a self which learns not to trust in fixed goals or settled moods may help fragmented Westerners, whether or not Buddhist practitioners, to understand as lived behavior these arcane concepts of "no-self" and "emptiness." About emptiness, she observes "that all phenomena, including healing systems, are empty of inherent meaning and are rather a constant flux of changing causes, circumstances, and conditions. What Buddhism and psychoanalysis are and can provide will mix with the setting, the consciousness, and the unconscious of the practitioner." Her wisdom, as a professional and as a student, a Buddhist and a clinician, appears hard-won, and sometimes easily lost. That is, Dr. Jennings wrestles with the material she teaches here. Fixed answers and pat theories elude her grasp.

Many of her Western Buddhist peers, she cautions, run too rapidly away from psychological healing into spiritual techniques, while these seekers may fail to appreciate the damage they may do when they misinterpret what "no-self" and "emptiness" may truly mean. Jennings skillfully navigates between these Buddhist teachings and psychological inheritances. She sums up basic dharma well, and she contrasts and compares its instructions with Freudian-influenced schools of psychiatry deftly.

However, she refers to Jungian insights into the numinous more in passing; she offers enough to spark curiosity, but then skips away from the resonances that remain. She intervenes, imposes Cartesian limits upon such psychic suppositions as Jung entertained, and she veers off sharply for a hundred pages before mentioning his more open-ended suggestions again. Appearing to favor Freudian-derived responses, Jennings reveals her own preferences, but the appeal of Jung for many Westerners also pursuing Buddhism leaves this fruitful topic underexamined. The relationship of Buddhist-inspired applications to Western analysands from a New Age or Eastern-tinged background, as well as Asians growing up in the global diaspora's modern mindsets, signals a realm for inquiry that Jennings' pioneering work may direct future researchers to investigate.

Spiritual freedom, she muses, may mask unresolved anxieties that the practitioner has fled or masked within the unconscious. The power of the unexamined mental constructs within us, Jennings warns, may be worsened if anger persists but is glossed over or sidestepped. Instead, she suggests, the Buddhist parallel of taking on anger to break it apart--rather than averting one's gaze from it and its effects and its objects--may be the only way to gain a difficult, perhaps endlessly delayed, wholeness that comes from not so much ending anger as coming to terms with its psychic energy and practical impacts.

For desire, as with suffering and with anger, she compares Buddhist responses with those studied by her colleagues. The gap between what one wishes to gain and the mundane knowledge that nothing gained lasts forever represents real life. Dependent origin, the cause-and-effect relationship at the heart of dharma, connects with the student learning from the lama: a model of interdependence rather than self-reliance (taught to Westerners as their assertive, secular ideal ever since the Enlightenment) becomes for Jennings the aspiration better fitted to humbler, spiritually yearning, and psychologically broken people today.

Therefore, Dr. Jennings offers analysts a space where limits of any model can be acknowledged. Rather than grasping one theory, one outcome, one regimen, she urges the pair to shed mental delusions that enlightenment or wholeness precludes a continuation of the psychic struggle. No blissful end of days awaits, for her mind. Jennings cannot accept this entry into detached contentment as a viable, probable, or practical resolution.

By studying the causes of suffering, suffering can be understood. It cannot be escaped or overcome. Instead, how one reacts to suffering proves the solution. Shedding delusion means to grow up and realize that enlightenment may be, for Westerners accustomed to salvific journeys, the only happy ending, and one less free of care than one may expect. For Pilar Jennings, the Buddhist perspective, sharpened over thousands of years, intersects a century of psychological theories and clinical trials and case studies. For the informed analyst, who may increasingly be cognizant of Buddhism among his or her Western patients, and who may even practice it, the augmentation of dharma with analysis serves as a harbinger of the meeting of true minds, as these venerable energies mix and blend.
10 von 10 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Thorough and In-Depth Exploration of Psychoanalysis and Buddhism 19. April 2011
Von L. Erickson - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Taschenbuch
This is a meticulously researched and in-depth examination of the similarities, differences, and processes of psychoanalysis and Buddhism, with an emphasis on the role of relationship - particularly the relationship between analyst and analysand, teacher and student - in the two traditions. Ms. Jennings is herself a practicing psychoanalyst with a long-term Buddhist practice, including studying both Vipassana and Tibetan Buddhism. She integrates her research with anecdotes from her own personal experiences as an analyst, an analysand, Buddhist practitioner, and student.

This book has a fairly specific target audience. I think it will be most relevant and useful to practicing psychoanalysts and psychotherapists looking to integrate or at the very least understand Buddhist practices, and/or other spiritual and religious beliefs, in the context of their work. It also is an invaluable read for any Buddhist teacher teaching in the West, as it explores the cultural differences that historically impacted the development of both psychoanalysis in the West, and Buddhism in the East. These cultural differences are often at the heart of misunderstandings between teachers and students, and Ms. Jennings' insights into these are illuminating.

Of course anyone interested in either psychoanalysis, Buddhism, or both will also appreciate this book, especially any Buddhist practitioner also engaged in or considering psychoanalysis. But it is an erudite read, often comparing and contrasting psychoanalytic theories and theorists that most people outside the field will not be familiar with. That being said, I appreciated this book greatly, and I was not familiar with many of the theories discussed (beyond those of Freud and Jung).

I thought Ms. Jennings' insights into the Buddhist teacher/student relationship were particularly incisive and true, and relevant to spiritual practitioners of many faiths, not just Buddhism. She does a masterful job of exploring all aspects and phases of this relationship - the process of working through our projections of what a teacher (or mentor, or spiritual director, or priest, etc.) should be, our idealization of who they are, our disillusionment when their words and actions do not match this, the sometimes resultant anger, and (hopefully) the shifting into a more mature interpersonal relationship that fosters our continued growth and insight.

Ms. Jennings' chose to focus on the role of this teacher/student relationship, and the relationship between psychoanalysts and analysands, because:

"Both Western psychology and Buddhist philosophy recognize that we are by our very nature relational beings...This is how our very ego formation comes into being, and how our evolving capacity for adult interpersonal relationships is sustained. If the historical Buddha had opted not to seek his small sangha of five after his awakening, the evolution of Buddhism into its current global incarnation would never have come about."

Both psychoanalysis/psychotherapy and Buddhism rely on our relational nature, on the relationship between analyst/analysand, and teacher/student, for insights to surface and be processed. Of course, within Buddhist schools, this relationship is emphasized more in some traditions that in others, and Ms. Jennings' recognizes this, and compares her differing experiences within Vipassana and Tibetan Buddhism as an example.

Other topics explored in this book that I found interesting were:

- The role of religion in the psychoanalytic process, how religious beliefs potentially impact both the psychoanalyst and the analysand, and how they can be integrated into the process

- East/West cultural differences that influence Buddhist teacher/student relations

- The process of transmission within Buddhism and transference within psychoanalysis

- How anger and desire are viewed within each tradition, and the strengths and potential pitfalls of the approaches for dealing with them within each tradition

- An exploration of enlightenment as portrayed within Buddhism and integration as portrayed within psychoanalytic theories - in other words, the 'end games' of both traditions

My favorite parts of the book were the personal stories of Ms. Jennings, in which she shares phases of her own psychoanalytic process and Buddhist practice. She is honest and down to earth in these passages, and I wish there were more of them. Perhaps in the future she will consider writing a memoir that focuses on these. In the meantime, Mixing Minds is a fascinating and thorough exploration of its' topic, and I highly recommend it for those interested.
8 von 8 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Mixing Minds, a groundbreaking book 4. Februar 2011
Von Robert A. Jonas ( - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Taschenbuch Verifizierter Kauf
In this groundbreaking book, Pilar Jennings carefully examines the principles of healing in Tibetan Buddhism and in psychoanalysis. Mixing Minds is a must-read for every teacher of Buddhism in America, and for psychologists and psychiatrists who want to understand their work through the lens of Buddhist spirituality. It is not addressed to the casual reader. For those who are unfamiliar with psychoanalytic concepts such as the unconscious, transference, and projection, Mixing Minds may be a challenging read, and worth the effort. Psychologists, psychiatrists, and other mental health professionals who are unfamiliar with Buddhism will find Jennings' explanation of profound spiritual insights both fascinating and easy to grasp. Pilar Jennings has studied not only the voluminous psychoanalytic and Buddhist literature -- she has also studied herself. The reader trusts what she finds in herself because she tells her story in a way that illumines the universal human drama.

Robert A. Jonas, Ed.D.
3 von 3 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Dr. Pilar Jennings great author of the best book Mixing Minds 4. April 2011
Von reji larco - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Taschenbuch
Dr. Pilar Jennings creates a great gift for us all
ways of enjoying life and eachother with greater freedom and wisdom
Dr. Pilar Jennings will be giving a presentation at the Westport Library in May
follow her presentations, she is a magnificent speaker

We are gratefull for her great contributions,

Thank you,

Reji Larco
Psychotherapist and writer and author
1 von 1 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
What Psychoanalysis and Buddhism Can Offer Each Other 19. Oktober 2013
Von Lothe - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Taschenbuch
For some time now there has been a recognition among Western practitioners and scholars that Buddhism and psychoanalysis have common ground: each seeks to discover the true nature of the self, in hopes that doing so will lead to an improved quality of life.

In "Mixing Minds," psychoanalyst and Tibetan Buddhist practitioner Pilar Jennings focuses on "the power of relationship in psychoanalysis and Buddhism." For her, there is a crucial core of relationality in both practices, namely the teacher and student in Buddhism, and the analyst and analysand (patient) in psychoanalysis. Jennings asks how these pairs both parallel and differ from each other, and how the respective practices might inform each other to create a more healing environment.

Jennings seeks an answer to these questions by examining Buddhist and psychoanalytic approaches to some common themes, such as desire, aggression, and idealization, and the goal of each practice. As she surveys these large and complex ideas, she provides enough grounding in both analysis and Buddhism that readers unfamiliar with one or both subjects can still appreciate her conclusions. In her best moments, she also offers stories of her own life and practice (of both Buddhism and analysis) in a strikingly genial and humble voice.

In Jennings' view, Buddhism and psychoanalysis aim at similar but distinct goals, and thus can meaningfully complement but not replace one another. As she sees it, Buddhism tends to treat the individual as primarily an instance of the overarching type of deluded suffering that afflicts all people. On the other hand, psychoanalysis can become so preoccupied with the particular psychic issues of a given analysand that it can lose sight of the extent to which psychological suffering can be a bridge to a shared human experience.

Needless to say, not all readers will agree with all of the book's conclusions. For example, I think Jennings sells short the capacity for the ultimate (ontological) emptiness of Buddhism to contain a conventional self that is perfectly subject to the methods of psychoanalysis. And while she offers some intriguing visions of what "Enlightenment" might look like in practical terms, her ideas (as she acknowledges) do stray from traditional Buddhist teachings on the nature of nirvana.

Notwithstanding these quibbles, "Mixing Minds" is thought-provoking on the subject of the limitations of particular healing practices, as well as whether and how those practices can work together for a more holistic healing program. Even those who are dedicated primarily or entirely to one system or the other can benefit from inquiring what their discipline can achieve, and how, and whether it could be augmented by other practices. In the end, Jennings is not "pushing" therapy, or Buddhism; she merely wants to see people find the help and the healing so many of us are searching for. And that is a wish Buddhism and therapy can gladly share .

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