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Going to Pieces Without Falling Apart: A Buddhist Perspective on Wholeness
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Going to Pieces Without Falling Apart: A Buddhist Perspective on Wholeness

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  6,056 ratings  ·  278 reviews
For decades, Western psychology has promised fulfillment through building and strengthening the ego. We are taught that the ideal is a strong, individuated self, constructed and reinforced over a lifetime. But Buddhist psychiatrist Mark Epstein has found a different way. Going to Pieces Without Falling Apart shows us that happiness doesn't come from any kind of acquisitive ...more
Paperback, 200 pages
Published June 1st 1999 by Harmony (first published June 15th 1998)
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Dan Harris
Feb 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
It's not an exaggeration to say this book changed my life. It got me to consider meditation, something I'd always considered uniquely odious, but now believe has made me 10% happier. Also, I've become friends with Mark, and he's a gem. ...more
Jul 20, 2016 rated it it was ok
This book was not what I was expecting it to be. Dan Harris, of Good Morning America, said this book literally changed his life. While I didn't find it life changing in any way, nor what I was looking for - a book about how to quiet the mind in this crazy world we are living in and live with less stress - it was a good book about incorporating mindfulness into psychotherapy...if one is interested in that. :)

There are far better books out there on mindfulness and meditation, in my opinion.
Jul 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: wellness
Good grief. This was the book I needed to read. If nothing else, it's given me a little bit of peace with the whole meditation process--this is the first book that has mentioned how difficult it can be to finally face all the mental chatter. I've been meditating daily for about a month and a half, and in some ways I feel better...but let's just say that taming my mind (and dealing with the emotions that have surfaced) has proven to be difficult, yikes.

But I really love the main message of this
Feb 05, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: health

“If we are not our thoughts, then what are we?”

Dr. Epstein explores the productiveness of coming to terms with ourselves and our defenses/pain through psychotherapy and/or through Buddhist meditation practice.

He goes into the ways both practices complement each other and how being stuck in one method can lead to a breakthrough in the other. He also mentions several types of meditation – from sitting still and staring at a blank wall to sexual meditations, indicating that orgasms [in respectfu
Jan 31, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book was PROFOUNDLY insightful to me. It is a case-by-case look at how a Buddhist perspective can aid in psychological healing. It's been a while, but I did read it twice. I'd have to look at my notes in the margins to give a better, more in depth review of this book. However, I can offer some clue by telling you what I got most out of this book and what I will ultimately take from it. Dr. Epstein did a marvelous job of putting Buddhist principles and concepts in context, making the religio ...more
Read this after reading Dan Harris' "10% Happier" and while I do think there is a lot of good stuff in Mark Epstein's book, reading it right after Harris's may have been overkill. For one, "10% Happier" is written in a much more accessible style. Epstein's book is very much a psychology book and a Buddhist book, and if you don't have a good grounding in both, you may get a little lost or lose interest. Plus, a lot of the same ideas are hit upon, but Mark describes them a little more abstractly. ...more
Sep 14, 2013 rated it liked it
Good concepts. I'm no longer that impressed by books on Buddhism written by well-off,white, abled-bodied, males. ...more
Aug 21, 2009 rated it did not like it
Shelves: non-fiction
My favorite part of this book came before page 1. In the introduction, Dr. Epstein cites a Buddhist story of a university professor who goes to a Zen master eager to learn. The master offers him tea and then pours the tea into the cup until it overflows, and when the professor complains, the Zen master continues to pour and explains, "A mind that is already full cannot take in anything new."

The snippits of Zen tradition, Buddhist koans, and other pieces of Eastern philosophy that make their way
Caidyn (he/him/his)
This review can also be found on my blog!

My mom got this book for me a very long time ago because she thought it would be helpful for me since I’m planning on being in a helping profession. I don’t know if I want to do psychotherapy, but there are still methods you can piece out while working with clients.

So, I had a very rough end of February. Lots of stress. I decided to pick it up and read it to see if it could bring me any kind of peace.

I agree with the heard of Epstein’s message. To truly h
Feb 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
* *

Although small in size, Epstein's book presents quite a powerful synthesis of Buddhism and psychotherapy. Amazingly, he brings clarity to the paradoxical concepts of: feeling whole by accepting emptiness; finding happiness by letting go; feeling more at peace by tolerating uncertainty; and being able to go to pieces in order to avoid falling apart. I've already read this book twice, and I have no doubt that each successive read will uncover more gems hidden inside. The writing is superb, the
Aug 31, 2013 rated it liked it
Something is wrong with this book. While there are the occasional insights, the author comes across as too worshipful of others & not respectful of himself. There are odd moments where he defers to the wisdom of others at times when it's not at all necessary.

The book is very dry, cerebral, detached. That seems to be something Buddhists strive for and it makes me want to punch them.

"I don't have feelings, I merely observe them. They don't control me."

Don't feel this! POW!

Something about this ob
Mar 22, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
I struggled through this book. I read a book a while back where someone was a Buddhist and he talked about meditation. So I picked this up thinking I could learn something. But the author clearly has a vocabulary far different from mine. It was hard to follow along.

If you are familiar with Buddhism (and are an MD) and have the vocab down, then this book might mean something to you and you might be able to extract some useful information. I, unfortunately, lacked the key to unlock this book.
Mark Schlatter
Mar 14, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: shreve
This is a reflection on how Buddhism and traditional psychotherapy conflict in some ways, but compliment each other as well. Epstein is not writing a self-help book, although there is much in the work that is edifying. Instead, he is weaving together strands of meditation and therapy to address issues of wholeness and emptiness. As a result, the work is somewhat dense --- although Epstein is very good at using stories to make his points, there's a lot of psychiatric theory and Buddhist history t ...more
One of the (few) books I gave up on. I just wasn't connecting with it. In spite of it connecting therapy and Buddhism, two very interesting and fascinating subjects. Maybe it was because I just didn't feel like it brought me any new insights, because it didn't move me, emotionally or mentally. And because I have a stack of other books waiting for me, so I chose not to waste any more time, but to just move on. ...more
Kevin Orth
Apr 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Love, love, love this author! I am totally enamored with his marrying emotional health from a psychiatric perspective with Buddhist principles. Now I have to read everything he has written. Highly recommend.
Jun 29, 2018 rated it it was ok
I read this book because Dan Harris had recommended it. Dan Harris wrote a much better book! I was pretty bored during this and did not find it helpful.
Howard Mansfield
Oct 08, 2017 rated it liked it
Going to Pieces is very much in the self-help mode. Epstein mixes case histories from his psychiatry practice, his own stories, psychotherapy theories and Buddhist texts. His other books are more fluid and go deeper. But this is still an insightful guide to bringing Buddhists practices to bear on your daily life.
I wish I had a bigger understanding of some of the psychology terms and people he mentions in the book so I could get more out of it. Regardless of some small episodes of language that I didn't know what to do with, I still enjoyed the book and had much to be learned and appreciated. I'll have to read it again. ...more
Nov 28, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2018
I listened to this book because of "10% Happier." I don't think I got enough out of it to care, and I certainly didn't pay enough attention to be able to write a proper review. Maybe next time... ...more
Yassir Islam
Aug 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: spirituality
I first read this book when it came out, and just finished rereading it 15 years later. It is still an insightful and relevant book today as it was then. This is not a practitioners guide to Buddhism, nor is it an introduction. Epstein grapples with the concept of emptiness as examined through the lens of western contemporary psychotherapy and Buddhism. What follows is his attempt to inform the more limited concept of emptiness in the western tradition with its more expansive and freeing interpr ...more
Valentina Năstăşel
"Like Freud’s friends, who shrunk back from the terrifying transitoriness of the flower’s bloom, and like Joe, we recoil from the revelation of our lover’s freedom. We insist on holding on, or we withdraw prematurely, rather than trusting in love’s ability to constantly reassert itself. Yet this is precisely what makes a relationship as much of a spiritual teaching as a classical meditation. Both confront us with our refusal to let go, with our expectations for how things are supposed to be. Bot ...more
Steve Woods
Aug 31, 2010 rated it really liked it
This book was one of the few sources that put the idea that what was happening to me at a very difficult time was not the end but a beginning. How true that has turned out to be, very populist in its approach and style but accessible to anyone. It was from the starting point that was established at the time I read this book that the journey has progressed, in fits and starts maybe but it did lead to serious consideration of another way of living that is central to my being now. This book was a s ...more
Dec 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing
With Thoughts Without a Thinker I needed to break up the reading because the ideas were so intense. However, in Going to Pieces I would have preferred to have read it through in just a sitting or two. It is an easier read with easier concepts, so it would have been enjoyable to have really immersed myself into the material. It is a book to re-read several times, so next time I'll probably read it without the outside interruptions I had this time.

Mark Epstein definitely didn’t disappoint and rea
Renate Eveline
May 08, 2013 rated it liked it
I was looking for a good perspective on buddhist psychology, but didn't find much insight here.
Concerning the Buddhist part, Epstein just covers the basics as so many books do. Regarding the psychological part, a broader perspecive would have been nive, Epstein leans too much on Winnicot for my liking. It became harder and harder to finish this book, which looked so promising at first.
Aug 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
I spent a lot of time identifying with what Epstein had to say here, and I think it's interesting to see how contemplative practices can offer insights and peace that can round out what we're looking for in therapy... it's a good amt of pulling the wool away and looking at how westerners have been socially indoctrinated. ...more
Mar 15, 2010 rated it liked it
There are some gems in this book that make it worth reading, some 'aha' moments I could relate back to my own life, but I would have preferred a condensed version containing only these gems (by my definition). Is asking an author to write the book for me asking too much? :) ...more
Dec 26, 2017 rated it it was ok
Difficult to read. Maybe better suited for a psychology professional. I found myself glazing over, skimming. Technical references to classic psychology that is lost on me. At times reads like a personal journal. Needs some cutthroat editing to make it palatable for the general interest reader.
Dec 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: life-coach
I first bought this book over 10 years ago and I re-read it every couple of years. It has gotten me through a lot of difficult times - I highly recommend.
Dec 30, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is great to read again and again when dealing with tough stuff.
Feb 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This book is going to change my life. Or at least as much as I let it!
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Mark Epstein, M.D. is a psychiatrist in private practice in New York City and the author of a number of books about the interface of Buddhism and psychotherapy, including Thoughts without a Thinker, Going to Pieces without Falling Apart, Going on Being, Open to Desire and Psychotherapy without the Self. His newest work, The Trauma of Everyday Life, will be published in August of 2013 by Penguin Pr ...more

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