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The Importance of Suffering


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Table of Contents

Introduction. An Enquiry into the Nature of Human Habits. The Relational Perspective on Suffering. Positive and Negative Models of Suffering: A Battle for Supremacy. Anaesthetic Regimes and the Unproblematic Life. The Consequences of Avoiding our Primary Problems: Unproductive Suffering. Productive Suffering as a Ritual Process - As Useful Descent. The Period of Transition in the Ritual of Productive Suffering. Concluding the Book. Appendix One: Distinguishing Between Productive and Unproductive Suffering. Appendix Two: The History of the Concept of the Drive for Realisation.

About the Author

James Davies is a senior lecturer in the departments of psychology and anthropology at Roehampton University, London, UK. He obtained his doctorate in social anthropology from the University of Oxford, UK, and is also a qualified psychotherapist. He has practised in various settings including the NHS, and has delivered lectures at many universities including Yale, Brown, CUNY, Oxford, London and Harvard


"James Davies offers a highly original and insightful approach that restores the vital place of suffering in human development. Drawing from anthropology, philosophy and psychology Davies weaves a rich narrative that deserves to be widely read." - Alistair Ross, Oxford University, UK

"This book, fluently and engagingly written, takes us back a number of decades to the exciting times of Szasz, Laing and others, and the revolutionary assertion that the origin of suffering is due to an unduly oppressive social environment. It asks us to take our leave of the pathologising foundations of most current therapies, and resist complying with that ill-considered theorising... Such a prodding enlivens one's critical stance to what we as therapists do, and places the book next to classics like Philip Rief's The Triumph of the Therapeutic, and Ian Craib's The Importance of Disappointment." - R. D. Hinshelwood, University of Essex, UK

"The Importance of Suffering is a brave and creative work that will change how we think about human suffering. Critiquing the ideology of anesthetization that characterizes modern-day life, Davies demonstrates - with great sensitivity and depth - how suffering can be leveraged for positive growth and change when not exiled from human experience. This is a bold and hopeful book; a major contribution." - Rebecca J. Lester, Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, USA

"This book offers a deeply informed and nuanced understanding of the value of suffering, when productively engaged. Elegantly written in crisp prose, it offers an incisive critique of the medicalization of suffering when narrowly conceived as disorder to be treated by anti-depressant medications and prescriptions for "positive thinking". Rich in insights of value to psychoanalysts, philosophers, psychologists, and the broadly educated European and North American public." - Janis H. Jenkins, University of California at San Diego, USA

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