Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Schopenhauer's Porcupines: Intimacy and its Dilemmas - Five Stories of Psychotherapy” as Want to Read:
Schopenhauer's Porcupines: Intimacy and its Dilemmas - Five Stories of Psychotherapy
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Schopenhauer's Porcupines: Intimacy and its Dilemmas - Five Stories of Psychotherapy

4.13  ·  Rating Details ·  576 Ratings  ·  49 Reviews
Each generation of therapists can boast of only a few writers like Deborah Luepnitz, whose sympathy and wit shine through a fine, luminous prose. In Schopenhauer's Porcupines she recounts five true stories from her practice, stories of patients who range from the super-rich to the homeless and who grapple with panic attacks, psychosomatic illness, marital despair, and sexu ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published February 3rd 2003 by Basic Books (first published 2002)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Schopenhauer's Porcupines, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Schopenhauer's Porcupines

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Sergei Moska
Jun 14, 2013 Sergei Moska rated it liked it
I can easily see someone giving this five stars. Here's my quick run-down of the pros and cons:

-the writing is very accessible and engaging, yet not condescending
-this is a great account of the experience of the actual practice psychotherapy from the perspective of the (an) analyst
-Luepnitz effectively intersperses interesting and useful bits of theoretical information throughout the text. If you pay attention, you'll know more about some technical elements of psychotherapy after having rea
Aug 31, 2015 Jafar rated it liked it
A troop of porcupines is milling about on a cold winter's day. In order to keep from freezing, the animals move closer together. Just as they are close enough to huddle, however, they start to poke each other with their quills. In order to stop the pain, they spread out, lose the advantage of commingling, and begin to shiver. This sends them back in search of each other, and the cycle repeats as they struggle to find a comfortable distance between entanglement and freezing.

The book has a cool ti
Matthew Leroy
Jun 23, 2011 Matthew Leroy rated it it was amazing
Personally I think it's impossible to read this book without becoming struck by how emotional all of these stories are. Dr. Lueopnitz writes like a novelist who is intricately aware of human suffering. She discusses psychoanalytic theory in a way that is understandable to all, and embraces the experience of the subjectivity of the analyst. Brilliant, I look forward to reading it all again.
Ryan Johnson
Feb 16, 2016 Ryan Johnson rated it really liked it
Loved it. 4 Stars.

Again this book and author, re-familiarized myself with some great authors and intellectuals that I voraciously read when younger, which i need to re-read now that the ravages of memory loss will make them and their theories new again.

A must read.
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
Jul 24, 2009 Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance rated it really liked it
Shelves: happiness, surprise
Luepnitz tells five stories of patients she has worked with in therapy. All are resounding successes, though all come from wildly different backgrounds. Luepnitz is a traditional Freudian therapist and that bothered me at first. But as I read on, I could see Luepnitz seems to use traditional Freudian techniques to read a patient, much like I read the characters in a book. It was a fascinating read, watching as patients became more and more forthcoming with their problems and difficulties. Do all ...more
Feb 09, 2014 Taylor rated it liked it
A solid 3. I liked it, but wasn't struck by it being something amazing. The author, Deborah, is a psycho-analyst, so all the stories are about psychotherapy. I think talk therapy can be immensely helpful to some people, but it would have been nice if there had been just one case where it turned out that it didn't help. I feel like this book paints a very rosy picture of her work.

Still, an engrossing read. Although my life has not been nearly as difficult as some of the clients discussed in the
Mar 19, 2013 Susan rated it it was amazing
Shelves: about-the-mind
This book is very telling. People, like porcupines, are in need of close relationships in order to truly thrive BUT ... how close should those relationships be before one feels the prickle and runs away? And what of those relationships that are comforting and prickly at the same time? How do people reconcile those dilemmas? The answer to that is different for everyone; this book explores the answers that 5 people discover through psychotherapy. This book is so very interesting and detailed. High ...more
Oct 20, 2016 Teeuhh rated it it was amazing
Loved her writing style. Very gentle, pragmatic, but still precise in its teaching points. I wanted more! Actually got me excited to discover Lacan and I may be warming up to Winnicott...time will tell.
Oct 26, 2016 Hind rated it it was amazing
كتاب رائع يحكي عن قصص لمحلل نفسي مع المرضى النفسين،
May 15, 2011 Alexis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My second time reading this one...and probably not my last. I have heard Deborah Luepnitz present at a conference and found her just as interesting and entertaining in person (as well as pretty darn talented clinically). This book is a series of five cases studies from her practice as a psychoanalyst, with the common theme being the issue of relational "intimacy." In Schopenhauer's original tale, porcupines are described as huddling together against the cold, only to have to move away because th ...more
Jul 15, 2007 stephanie rated it it was amazing
at first, i wasn't sure i believed annice that this would be a book i loved.

however, then i got to the last two case studies. pearl's story, and the way the author worked with her, was inspiring. and then! then we got to emily. and emily broke my heart, but also the way deborah didn't give up on her really meant a lot to me, as a wanna be therapist. i mean, she made sure she had support with herself, getting a supervisor to talk through the issues and she stuck with this woman for over a decade
Jun 19, 2010 Jean rated it liked it
Shelves: big-picture, dealing
This is an interesting and instructive account by a talk-therapy psychotherapist of clients she treated over the years, and what she learned. Her central image is that of porcupines who inevitably wound if they get too close to each another. People don’t have quills, but they often came to the author with emotional trauma or difficult history that likewise wounded as they attempted intimacy. I was left impressed with the author’s dedication, especially toward one impoverished woman she saw for f ...more
Jan 27, 2009 Cayr rated it it was amazing
In Schopenhauer's Porcupines: Intimacy and Its Dilemmas, Deborah Luepnitz presents the theories, intricacies, failings and victories of the analytic process of psychotherapy as she relates the case histories of five diverse patients/subjects. Although her target audience may ultimately be students of psychoanalysis, Luepnitz describes the process of the "talking cure" without pretensions. Even the reader without a background in psychology will find her stories compelling and her analysis easy to ...more
Feb 23, 2012 Deb rated it it was amazing
*The space between isolation and entanglement*

Through five captivating patient narratives, psychologist Deborah Luepnitz amazingly captures the essence of the human struggle of finding balance between the self and the other. Each chapter paints a version of the push-pull relationship between our simultaneous needs for independence and connection. This universal dilemma of intimacy is nicely portrayed with the ongoing metaphor of a troop of porcupines huddling to stay warm on a cold winter's day
Sarah Evan
Dec 04, 2009 Sarah Evan rated it it was amazing
December 2009 -
I just re-read this book and realized it allowed me to decide to enter into the profession of psychology. Her tone makes therapy so accessible and the elements of human nature she describes (and subtly dissects) are key to the subtitle - Intimacy and It's Dilemmas. Now a favorite!

August 2008-
I really liked these five case studies of individuals in psychotherapy who had various issues with intimacy/relationships. I also liked how the author/therapist used analogies and references
Jul 20, 2008 Empress rated it liked it
This book wasn't necessarily what I was expecting, as it deals with all kinds of relationships, not just romantic, but also familiar, etc...But it did teach me a thing or two about psychotherapy by giving me a better understanding (and appreciation) of the language and theory behind it.
Although I wasn't too sure about the book at first, the last two chapters really struck me. I found both The Darwinian Finch and The Sin Eater to be especially rich and insightful investigations into the complexi
Feb 28, 2014 Kristin rated it liked it
Writing: 4
Story: 3
Satisfaction: 3

Though I was a little skeptical about some of her psychiatric practices, I enjoyed the stories and the way that Luepnitz integrated a few facts on the history of psychology into them.

There is an introduction on her methodology and then Luepnitz writes about five cases that she worked with during her practice. There's a married couple, a young girl, a playboy, a single mom, and a young professor who each have different problems and different levels of understandin
Dec 19, 2007 David rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: psychology students
Shelves: psychology
Dr. Luepnitz does an excellent job of presenting what therapy is like from the perspective of the therapist. Her writing style makes this book a pleasure to read. She has a knack for integrating psychological theory in her exploration of a patient's case that makes for an informative and entertaining read. Her stories bring the underlying and very personal symbolism of each patient back full circle to where it began with the resolution of the patient's dilemmas. Because of this, each story feels ...more
Jul 09, 2014 Lorna rated it really liked it
Dr. Luepnitz takes her readers on a tour of psychoanalysis and the people we meet on the other side of the door - both within the therapist and within the client. After years of work, she pulls from her work with five very different clients to illustrate how the battles of intimacy are fought and sometimes won. Along with this, she instructs the reader on therapeutic technique and areas where she wishes she had said or done something differently. As each person seeks to find the appropriate bala ...more
Joanne Gass
Jan 05, 2016 Joanne Gass rated it it was amazing
Finally, a psychology book which not only presents case histories but also explains the theories which apply to the talking cure which she employs. The last one I read left out the underpinnings and I was annoyed. Anyway, Luepnitz not only presents four or five of her cases, she also explains clearly and concisely her methods. I particularly applaud her easily understandable elucidation of Jacques Lacan's theories, which are virtually unreadable otherwise. She also gave me a new appreciation of ...more
Feb 02, 2013 Mariana rated it really liked it
Shelves: psychology
Dr. Luepnitz does such a remarkable job, not only during her sessions with these five patients, but also in grasping the ongoing emotional battle of them dealing with intimacy vs. isolation demands. Demands which are stronger than what their consciousness allows them to do. The porcupine metaphor is beautiful as it is heart-breaking and the five stories explored in this book give the reader a sense of hope, warmth and understanding.
Jan 30, 2008 Sylvie rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: people who are in couples
One of my favorite books about relationships. It's full of insights about the many ways in which we run into trouble when we try to be in love. Very insightful, very engaging, really cool stories about people's problems and the way they resolve them with the help of a gifted therapists. It's the best kind of looking at people's dirty laundry. It actually makes you more thoughtful about your relationships.
Mar 11, 2014 Joyce rated it really liked it
Shelves: psychology
I very much enjoyed the author's case studies. Her understanding of her clients is profound and she models what I think is best about this field - giving people the chance to figure things out with the assistance of someone who doesn't judge. It really shows what the work is all about and how it is valuable to be able to talk to someone for however long it takes, not just as long as the insurance company mandates.
Jan 11, 2016 Kadri rated it it was amazing
A troop of porcupines is milling about on a cold winter's day. In order to keep from freezing, the animals move closer together. Just as they are close to huddle, however, they start to poke each other with their quills. In order to stop the pain, they spread out, lose the advantage of commingling, and again begin to shiver. This sends them back in search of each other, and the cycle repeats as they struggle to find a comfortable distance between entanglement and freezing.
Jun 01, 2016 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: borrowed
This book is highly readable, though the case studies as human stories go down a lot easier than the bits of theory. I read this book very quickly, feeling like I could have enjoyed it arty twice the length. I'm torn between decrying this case studies genre as intellectual voyeurism and rejoicing in the hope of healing.
Jan 24, 2011 Renee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
presented five case studies of clients, which were interesting reads. My favorite part of the book was the short introduction. Luepnitz includes Arthur Schopenhauer's description of intimacy--of porcupines who need to huddle together to keep warm. If they get too close, they poke each other with their quills; if they are too far apart, they won't stay warm.
Sep 07, 2009 Jeff rated it it was ok
Really the only good part is the bit on the inside sleeve about the troop of porcupines milling about on a cold winter's day that ends up struggling for a comfortable place between entanglement and freezing.
Jun 03, 2010 Bridgett rated it really liked it
the vignettes in this book are entertaining, written almost like a good novel. it was fun to puzzle over the cases and think of how i might handle them in the author's place. a pretty fast read once you get past the intro chapter
Mar 17, 2015 Eileen rated it really liked it
I love books about process. and I love case histories! this book covered both nicely. therapy is about relationship. psychanalysis can drag that relationship on and on, but for those this works for, who am I to judge. accessibily written and informative. I enjoyed jt!
Marisa McDowell
Aug 25, 2013 Marisa McDowell rated it it was amazing
This book of case studies broke my heart so many times. Deborah Leupnitz invitation into her own 50 Minute Hours read like fiction. I recommend it to student and non-student alike, psych major and non-major, Freud fan or foe.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy: A Practitioner's Guide
  • The Mummy at the Dining Room Table: Eminent Therapists Reveal Their Most Unusual Cases and What They Teach Us about Human Behavior
  • Between Therapist and Client: The New Relationship
  • The Bonds of Love: Psychoanalysis, Feminism, & the Problem of Domination
  • The Fifty-Minute Hour
  • Becoming Attached: First Relationships and How They Shape Our Capacity to Love
  • Freud and Beyond: A History of Modern Psychoanalytic Thought
  • Undercurrents: A Life Beneath the Surface
  • The Unsayable: The Hidden Language of Trauma
  • The Impossibility of Sex: Stories of the Intimate Relationship between Therapist and Patient
  • Too Scared To Cry: Psychic Trauma In Childhood
  • The Inner World of Trauma: Archetypal Defences of the Personal Spirit
  • Living Your Unlived Life: Coping with Unrealized Dreams and Fulfilling Your Purpose in the Second Half of Life
  • Attachment in Psychotherapy
  • Momma and the Meaning of Life: Tales of Psychotherapy
  • A General Theory of Love
  • Eccentrics: A Study of Sanity and Strangeness
  • The Body Never Lies: The Lingering Effects of Cruel Parenting

Share This Book