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Healing through the Dark Emotions: The Wisdom of Grief, Fear, and Despair

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Book Overview

Nautilus Book Award Gold Winner A psychotherapist offers "crucial" guidance on how to "alter fundamentally our fearful relationship to deep feelings," from depression and anxiety to grief and fear... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Extremely useful for deepening emotional competence - very highly recommended

A relatively recent book with the simple but profound concept that fear, grief and despair contain the seeds of great wisdom, vitality and balance when they are experienced fully rather than phobically avoided. It demonstrates how our aversion to pain sabotages our search for happiness. I often recommend this book in my psychotherapy practice.

A must read for everyone

Everyone has losses. Everyone has wounds. This is not the end of joy but the beginning, if only we can learn to live with and find ourselves in our feelings, and embrace the life that waits for us on the other side of our pain. Miriam Greenspan's wise book is a warm and helpful guide to dealing with the dark emotions we all experience. As a writer and therapist myself I know how needed her book is and how valuable what she has to offer is. This is a must read for everyone.


From Phyllis Chesler, author of eleven titles, including "Women and Madness" and "Woman's Inhumanity to Woman": Greenspan is the gentlest and therefore the wisest of healers. Her book is a poem, a prayer, a guide, a ritual. She herself models what can be done. She is vulnerable, grief-stricken, mindful, supple, connecting, and joyful. She describes enormous grief and terror--her own, that of the world's--and explains what it means to surrender to fear, to face straight into it, to "let it be" as the royal road to sanity, rightful action and rightful non-action, and to exuberance and freedom. This book is very easy to read--but not simplistic; political but not rhetorical; spiritual but not dogmatic; literary but also practical. It beholds that which is tragic about the human condition but embraces it in a therapeutic and consoling way. It is both Jewish and Buddhist, feminist and humanist, grave but sometimes funny. Greenspan provides an excellent discussion of the "alchemy of fear," and of the Buddhist concept of "tonglen": non-action, action, surrender. She is excellent on violence, trauma, numbing, and the consequences of omnipresent media in our lives. Her discussion of the world post 9/11 is compelling. The tone is grave, measured, supple, vital, enchanting.Greenspan is a trustworthy guide for us in these times.


This is a book of remarkable depth. It is also engaging and wonderfully readable. The author is a brilliant thinker and a natural storyteller. Best of all, I loved the stories from her own life. As a psychologist and writer myself, I've read countless books about the difficult emotions. None is as interesting, helpful, and riveting as this one--or offer as much hope for our personal suffering and turbulent times.

A striking new view of 'dark' emotions

This book is beautifully written, moving, and passionate. Greenspan's basic idea is that if we mindfully experience grief, fear, and despair, we will heal our pain and discover some fundamental truths about life. She tells her own story, stories from her clients, and engages in deft cultural critique of our emotion-phobic culture. She also situates our personal emotional experiences in a wider culture, developing a brilliant and original 'ecology of emotion.'You won't forget this book.
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