cover image Advice Not Given: A Guide to Getting Over Yourself

Advice Not Given: A Guide to Getting Over Yourself

Mark Epstein. Penguin Press, $26 (224p) ISBN 978-0-399-56432-1

Using a mixture of personal stories, Buddhist texts, and Western psychology, Epstein (Going to Pieces Without Falling Apart), a practicing psychiatrist and Buddhist, shares advice and techniques for managing emotions. The book is organized around a framework of the Buddhist eightfold path, which keeps Epstein’s message clear while educating readers in the basics of Buddhist thought. As such, he suggests many ways of controlling the ego, all stemming from meditation practice, like (counterintuitively) not making a big deal out of life-changing events such as the deaths of loved ones and acknowledging unconscious influences in order to overcome them. However, while the first few chapters provide a smooth synthesis of Buddhism and psychiatry, the later chapters (particularly those on mindfulness and concentration) blend the practices less successfully and tend to focus more on mystical Buddhist experiences. Epstein is an excruciatingly honest guide; though an expert in multiple fields, he takes pains to provide advice not as an authority, but through stories that allow readers to draw their own conclusions. To this end, he often includes Buddhist parables and personal anecdotes to illustrate his points. Epstein’s book of practical suggestions will leave readers educated, inspired, and equipped with new tools for psychological health. (Jan.)