The Collected Works of John Suler


Contemporary Psychoanalysis and Eastern Thought


John R. Suler, PhD

State University of New York Press, 1993

"Suler provides the most extensive treatment of correspondences between Western psychology and Eastern disciplines that I have yet seen, at the same time noting important differences and ways in which the two bodies of thought and practice can usefully complement each other." -- Richard Coan, University of Arizona

"I learned a great deal from Contemporary Psychoanalysis and Eastern Thought. The book is sophisticated, solid, and full of rich insights. Suler knows psychoanalytic theory extremely well, and he has a gift for cross-cultural interpretation. Psychoanalysts unreceptive to Eastern ideas, students of Eastern thought unversed in psychoanalysis, and all serious students of transpersonal psychology should read Suler's book. It is a substantial work of scholarship and an admirable example of cross-cultural dialogue." -- by Michael Washburn, for the Transpersonal Review


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contemporary psychoanalysis and eastern thought suler
1. Introduction: Chasing Two Rabbits?
- how contemporary psychoanalysis (object relations theory, self psychology) compares to Zen and Taoism - defining "psychoanalysis" and "eastern thought" - methods for integrating eastern and western ideas - obstacles to this pursuit - the need for this pursuit

2. East Meets West
- the history of how psychoanalysis converged with eastern thought - the selfobject relationships between these eastern and western disciplines - common historical themes concerning psychoanalysis and eastern thought

3. Self and No-Self
- the western emphasis on attaining "self" - the eastern emphasis on attaining "no-self" - various models for resolving this apparent disparity between east and west - facets of selfhood and no-self - the interpenetration of self and no-self

4. Paradox
-the role of paradox in psychological and spiritual transformations - the Zen koan - paradoxes within the intrapsychic world - the self/other paradox - paradox as pointers - the paradox of the willing self - beyond the realm of paradox

5. Words, Images, Things
- the role of representational systems (verbal, imagistic, enactive) in spiritual growth - the limitations of language and concepts - mental imagery as transitional space in spiritual growth - the dynamics of form and formlessness - grasping the ungraspable

6. Meditative Consciousness
- the intrapsychic mechanisms and types of meditation - the liabilities and therapeutics of meditation - the clinician's contemplative experience - meditation in life context - the relationships and complementarity between psychotherapy and meditation

7. Students, Teachers, and Their Relationship
- strengths and pathology in spiritual students - strengths and pathology in spiritual teachers - crazy wisdom - the psychodynamics of the student/teacher relationship

8. The Therapist as Warrior
comparing psychotherapy to the martial arts - the warrior philosophy - basic martial art concepts applied to psychotherapy - the dynamics of hard and soft techniques - the clinician's and warrior's selfobject connection to a transcendent realm

9. Tai Chi Images: The Tao of Psychotherapy
relating the I Ching imagery system to psychotherapy - the meanings of the yin/yang symbol applied to psychotherapy - the eight trigrams and psychotherapy - Taoist qualities of psychological transformations

10. Vision Quest
the roots of the vision quest practice in eastern spirituality - the vision quest as a model of psychic transformation - the psychodynamics of wandering, signs, and visions

Conclusion: The Future of East Meeting West