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Necessary Losses: The Loves Illusions Dependencies and Impossible Expectations That All of us Have

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From grief and mourning to aging and relationships, poet and Redbook contributor Judith Viorst presents a thoughtful and researched study in this examination of love, loss, and letting go. Drawing on psychoanalysis, literature, and personal experience, Necessary Losses is a philosophy for understanding and accepting life’s inevitabilities. In Necessary Losses, Judith Viorst From grief and mourning to aging and relationships, poet and Redbook contributor Judith Viorst presents a thoughtful and researched study in this examination of love, loss, and letting go. Drawing on psychoanalysis, literature, and personal experience, Necessary Losses is a philosophy for understanding and accepting life’s inevitabilities. In Necessary Losses, Judith Viorst turns her considerable talents to a serious and far-reaching subject: how we grow and change through the losses that are a certain and necessary part of life. She argues persuasively that through the loss of our mothers’ protection, the loss of the impossible expectations we bring to relationships, the loss of our younger selves, and the loss of our loved ones through separation and death, we gain deeper perspective, true maturity, and fuller wisdom about life. She has written a book that is both life affirming and life changing.


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From grief and mourning to aging and relationships, poet and Redbook contributor Judith Viorst presents a thoughtful and researched study in this examination of love, loss, and letting go. Drawing on psychoanalysis, literature, and personal experience, Necessary Losses is a philosophy for understanding and accepting life’s inevitabilities. In Necessary Losses, Judith Viorst From grief and mourning to aging and relationships, poet and Redbook contributor Judith Viorst presents a thoughtful and researched study in this examination of love, loss, and letting go. Drawing on psychoanalysis, literature, and personal experience, Necessary Losses is a philosophy for understanding and accepting life’s inevitabilities. In Necessary Losses, Judith Viorst turns her considerable talents to a serious and far-reaching subject: how we grow and change through the losses that are a certain and necessary part of life. She argues persuasively that through the loss of our mothers’ protection, the loss of the impossible expectations we bring to relationships, the loss of our younger selves, and the loss of our loved ones through separation and death, we gain deeper perspective, true maturity, and fuller wisdom about life. She has written a book that is both life affirming and life changing.

30 review for Necessary Losses: The Loves Illusions Dependencies and Impossible Expectations That All of us Have

  1. 5 out of 5

    Fergus

    TRAUMA IS A FACT OF LIFE. IT DOES NOT, HOWEVER HAVE TO BE A LIFE SENTENCE. Peter A. Levine BLESSED IS HE WHO HAS A SOUL. BLESSED IS HE WHO HAS NO SOUL. BUT WOE, WOE TO THE ONE WHO HAS IT IN EMBRYO. George Gurdjieff The weight of buried trauma CAN be lifted. I know, because I have processed a lot more of it since the advent of COVID-19. Wow. I hate to go to more extremes than even I am ever Normally capable of, but to be perfectly honest with you, THIS BIG, FAT BOOK BLEW ME AWAY. It’s that good... You kno TRAUMA IS A FACT OF LIFE. IT DOES NOT, HOWEVER HAVE TO BE A LIFE SENTENCE. Peter A. Levine BLESSED IS HE WHO HAS A SOUL. BLESSED IS HE WHO HAS NO SOUL. BUT WOE, WOE TO THE ONE WHO HAS IT IN EMBRYO. George Gurdjieff The weight of buried trauma CAN be lifted. I know, because I have processed a lot more of it since the advent of COVID-19. Wow. I hate to go to more extremes than even I am ever Normally capable of, but to be perfectly honest with you, THIS BIG, FAT BOOK BLEW ME AWAY. It’s that good... You know, sometimes the most bitter pills to swallow do us most good. So it was with this book. Want to think in a totally Adult and Obstinately Responsible Way? This’ll do it! But yes, yes, I know - we don’t like to lose our illusions. As the great R.D.Laing said, we are all like newborns who want to hang on to our nourishing placentas. Laing says that wound sometimes never heals! You know, an ancient Zen monk once asked his revered Master, “What will I be like once I am Enlightened?” “LIKE A BULL DOWN A MOUNTAIN!!!” the Master thundered back. My old friend Ray was like that Bull, perpetually charging down at his friends from atop a mountain... Ray, though, had no choice in the matter. He had Lost ALL his illusions - in the Korean War. Ray was my neighbour-and-close-friend’s brother-in-law. Ray was a badly beat-up vet, but he always Sat High in the Saddle. A PROUDLY grown-up Guy. He DWARFED me and my buddy in Moral Stature and maturity, but strangely enough... he liked, respected and admired us - for the lines of trauma and wear that were forever etched on our faces. His wife, however, on one of the social occasions we attended, tried to lighten the general mood a bit. She knew Ray was carrying his enormous weight of memories and we, Ours. So I played the clown with my neighbour that night - and I felt Ray start to distance himself immediately. Misery not only Loves a commiserating kind of company - it requires it. I lost his loyalty at that moment. I had shifted out of character. So perhaps I lost a brother-in-arms that night, but it‘s probably just as well... Ray, like this dose of reality in this book, was pretty intense. Good in small doses.But trauma can infect others - one reason his wife willfully remains so defiantly bright and bon vivant. You gotta be like that sometimes, on social occasions. So I read this book, and discovered what I SHOULDA done in the weeks that folllowed was get back into Ray’s good graces. I shoulda helped MYSELF. This book Woulda REALLY HELPED. But it was by then too late, alas... You know, the November before he died - in his sleep, like a true hero who’s seen it all and done it all (and all for the good) - he got my pal to stand in for his sick ex-military sidekick, selling Poppies with him at Wal-Mart, after I (alas!) had taken the right of first refusal. My friend, upon arrival at Wal-Mart, pulled up a chair. Ray glowered. “Trash the chair! REAL MEN STAND!” You gotta understand, Ray then was approaching his ninetieth year. He was Old Age Ain’t For Sissies Incarnate. And so’s this book. That grim grey day, I had been too lost in my own pain and self-pity to STAND UP with Ray for two little hours. But Ms Viorst, unlike Ray, leads us much more slowly and gracefully to do exactly that. To learn to Stand in Our Pain. She’ll show you how to dissect it, and make you intimately INTERESTED in your Own Vivisection. Cause it will show you WHY you deserve a second chance! We ALL do. Pain, she tells us, can be traced to our trauma as infants. And don’t kid yourself. We’ve ALL got it in truckloads. It’s one thing to say Keep Calm and Carry On when everything’s rosy, but when a Catyclysmic Cauchemar is tearing your beating heart out of your rib cavity, what d’ya do? Forewarned is forearmed, and this book will give you all the ammunition you’ll need in your hand-to-hand combat with your False Self - if you can Stand the honesty. Viorst tells us, though, that there’s a Buried Treasure beneath that heap of rags we call a life... And it heals. You see, when we were infants we were Spontaneous. Life FLOWED like a river! But then... We decided to play it safe. We made ourselves a Phony Ego. It was the Best Way, we decided, to get what we wanted. And look where we are NOW. Now, if you want that spontaneous, vividly free-flowing life back, READ THIS BOOK. Better still, LISTEN to it on Audible - for the narrator has a wonderfully gentle and jocular voice - and you WON’T be spooked. It’s as long as a river, but: At the end of the longest river Under the hidden waterfall... Children’s voices in the orchard Between the blossom and the seed time... Quick now, here now, always - Pity the poor lost time stretching before and after! Why NOT break the chains? Why NOT climb out of the Rut? Real Freedom awaits.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Thomas

    A good book that confronts loss and shows that to enjoy a meaningful life with deep relationships, we must accept grief and loss as emotions worth experiencing. Our culture shies away from loss, perhaps for good reason, as death and separation evoke unpleasant feelings. But Judith Viorst contends that accepting loss as necessary allows us to better appreciate and cope with life's joys and hardships. She extends this message beyond physical death to address other important forms of loss, like the A good book that confronts loss and shows that to enjoy a meaningful life with deep relationships, we must accept grief and loss as emotions worth experiencing. Our culture shies away from loss, perhaps for good reason, as death and separation evoke unpleasant feelings. But Judith Viorst contends that accepting loss as necessary allows us to better appreciate and cope with life's joys and hardships. She extends this message beyond physical death to address other important forms of loss, like the loss of the idealistic expectations we have for our friends, children, and partners. As someone who sees that people often act in certain ways because of a fear of loss, I appreciate how Viorst walks us through several varieties of loss - with separate sections about friends, marriage, death, etc. - in compassionate and intelligent ways. I suspect that this book will give people interesting insights into their own behavior and their past relationships, as it did for me. I reduce my star rating because Viorst includes some outdated and heteronormative concepts of gender and attraction. This happens more toward the beginning of Necessary Losses and got better by the end. It intrigues me to think that I may have given this book a higher rating if I had read it 15 or even 10 years ago, but I feel glad that society has progressed to the point where I can recognize problematic themes in past psychologists' work (e.g., homosexuality as an abnormal feature as conceptualized by Freud). Viorst approaches some good ideas about gender - such that girls get taught to value relationships more than boys, not that that is biologically ingrained - but does not develop these insights all the way. Still, I would recommend this book - especially its latter half - to anyone interested in learning about loss and grief.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Larry

    Number 3 on my top ten books that most formed my worldview. Ms. Viorst brought me face to face with the normal (required?) speed bumps in the road of life. It was through this book that the concept of "process" became clear to me. Because we are born to aspire to achievement and recognition we are creatures of hope and when it happens, as it most surely will, that the edifice of our hopes comes crashing in on us we each, in our own time, in our own way and by our own initiative must undertake a Number 3 on my top ten books that most formed my worldview. Ms. Viorst brought me face to face with the normal (required?) speed bumps in the road of life. It was through this book that the concept of "process" became clear to me. Because we are born to aspire to achievement and recognition we are creatures of hope and when it happens, as it most surely will, that the edifice of our hopes comes crashing in on us we each, in our own time, in our own way and by our own initiative must undertake a process to recover from our loss of expectation and hope. None of us are exempt from this sequence of defeat and recovery, but hopefully, through experience (or from this book) we can make it more understandable and easier on subesquent occassions. The author's skill in presenting the normal and expected occurences of loss in our lives is comforting as it is a process that is by its nature very lonely. I'm sure I have given three or four dozen copies away to friends in need.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Stacy

    Judith Viorst did an excellent job defining and elaborating on the many losses we face in life through change, growing, and even death, and how different people deal with all. It helped me understand that there is a whole range of "normal", depending on our history, personality, environment, etc. what one may take in stride and even grow from, may knock another to their knees. Even the 5 stages of grief we hear so much about, it not so cut and dried. There is no formula, timetable or anything pr Judith Viorst did an excellent job defining and elaborating on the many losses we face in life through change, growing, and even death, and how different people deal with all. It helped me understand that there is a whole range of "normal", depending on our history, personality, environment, etc. what one may take in stride and even grow from, may knock another to their knees. Even the 5 stages of grief we hear so much about, it not so cut and dried. There is no formula, timetable or anything predictable as to how long one should be in any of the various stages. I learned quite a bit from this book, and will never look at loss in the same way.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    I read most of this a few years ago, and I keep thinking about it. So now I'm delving in again. Judith Viorst of "Alexander" fame is very insightful. I'm having to return this one before reading as much as I would like, but it's just as illuminating as I remembered. This time around, I got a lot out of the chapter entitled "Convenience Friends and Historical Friends and Crossroads and Cross-Generational Friends and Friends Who Come When You Call at Two in the Morning." It is something of a relie I read most of this a few years ago, and I keep thinking about it. So now I'm delving in again. Judith Viorst of "Alexander" fame is very insightful. I'm having to return this one before reading as much as I would like, but it's just as illuminating as I remembered. This time around, I got a lot out of the chapter entitled "Convenience Friends and Historical Friends and Crossroads and Cross-Generational Friends and Friends Who Come When You Call at Two in the Morning." It is something of a relief to hear it reiterated that almost every human relationship is an "imperfect connection" and that "even the best of friends are 'friends in spots'...intimate friendships will require that we indulge and forgive, be indulged and forgiven." Recommended for all adults.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Andrea

    The main idea of the book is that in letting go of some things we make valuable gains throughout the stages of our lives. The author starts with childhood and the separation we make from our parents. Some people suffer from premature separation from parents and so the author describes some of the emotional consequences of that because it affects how well they deal with loss in later stages of development. She talks about growing up and leaving home. She includes a whole chapter on fantasies and The main idea of the book is that in letting go of some things we make valuable gains throughout the stages of our lives. The author starts with childhood and the separation we make from our parents. Some people suffer from premature separation from parents and so the author describes some of the emotional consequences of that because it affects how well they deal with loss in later stages of development. She talks about growing up and leaving home. She includes a whole chapter on fantasies and how they are substitutes for what we must out of necessity lose. She also suggests in this chapter that healthy adults learn to accept reality. She has an exceptional chapter on friendship. She talks about marriage and the loss of a marriage. She has a chapter on grieving the loss of a person and a couple chapters on aging/death as we must give up some things in order to accept the limitations of aging. Here's a quote from the book's conclusion that I liked because it summarized the intent of the author so well: “In thinking about development as a lifelong series of necessary losses -- of necessary losses and subsequent gains -- I am constantly struck by the fact that in human experiences opposites frequently converge. I have found that little can be understood in terms of ‘eithers’ or ‘ors’. I have found that the answer to the question “Is it this or that?’ is often ‘Both.’ That we love and we hate the same person. That the same person -- us for instance -- is both good and bad. That although we are driven by forces that are beyond our control and awareness, we are also the active authors of our fate. And that, although the course of our life is marked with repetition and continuity, it also is remarkably open to change. For yes, it is true that as long as we live we may keep repeating the patterns established in childhood. It is true that the present is powerfully shaped by the past. But it also is true that the circumstances of every stage of development can shake up and revise the old arrangements. And it’s true that insight at any age can free us from singing the same sad songs again. Thus, although our early experiences are decisive, some of these decisions can be reversed. We can’t understand our history in terms of continuity or change. We must include both. And we can’t understand our history unless we recognize that it is comprised of both outer and inner realities. For what we call our ‘experiences’ include not only what happens to us out there, but how we interpret what happens to us out there. A kiss is not just a kiss -- it may feel like sweet intimacy; it may feel like outrageous intrusion. It may even be only a fantasy in our mind. Each of us has an inner response to the outer events of our life. We must include both.” pp. 326-327 I didn't like the chapters on sexuality/orientation or the many references to Freud's theories.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Kim

    I finally finished this book! It's one of those that you want to read slowly because it's somewhat dense even though it's written for a lay audience -- there's so much to mull over. Yes, this book is by the same Judith Viorst who wrote children's favorite, "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day." But this book is definitely for grownups who want to learn more about being grownups. Viorst chronicles the many beliefs we have to let go of in order to become fully mature, respo I finally finished this book! It's one of those that you want to read slowly because it's somewhat dense even though it's written for a lay audience -- there's so much to mull over. Yes, this book is by the same Judith Viorst who wrote children's favorite, "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day." But this book is definitely for grownups who want to learn more about being grownups. Viorst chronicles the many beliefs we have to let go of in order to become fully mature, responsible (and happy) adults, such as the conscious (or unconscious) belief that someone will come rescue us from our problems. ("Oh, if only I whine about this asshole at work long enough, someone will fire him!" Or, "I am going to complain about my husband's bad habit to my friends and maybe one day he will stop.") Yep, it's time to put on your big girl panties and deal with it, ALL OF IT, on your own. Ain't no Prince Charming or Surrogate Mama out there to fix it, y'all. But Viorst delivers it in a compassionate way that helps you get there if you aren't already. Also a very helpful chapter on coming to terms with your own mortality. A must for anyone considering a career in therapy.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Prettytaz83

    I got 200 pages in to this book, and I couldn't stand it any further. I wanted to like it ... The intro seemed exciting, and I eagerly dove in full of high hopes. But dear god.... Every issue in life does not go back to wanting to have sex with your parents, or unresolved mommy and daddy issues. I haven't lost friendships over unresolved homosexuality issues from Oedipal issues from when I was a toddler... I don't have anxiety because of going to day care. Give me a break --- this book is full of I got 200 pages in to this book, and I couldn't stand it any further. I wanted to like it ... The intro seemed exciting, and I eagerly dove in full of high hopes. But dear god.... Every issue in life does not go back to wanting to have sex with your parents, or unresolved mommy and daddy issues. I haven't lost friendships over unresolved homosexuality issues from Oedipal issues from when I was a toddler... I don't have anxiety because of going to day care. Give me a break --- this book is full of nonsensical Freudian theory, which has largely been shown to be a great period in psychological history, but has no ability to be proven... Therefore, not good science. This book doesn't explain loss at all!!! GAH!!! I can't believe it's so highly rated and people say they found it so useful... I don't understand at all.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Agnes Ross

    I unequivocally recommend this book to everyone, at whatever age. It was especially poignant for me to read it just as I resigned from full time work and started social security. I suffer the loss of a job I loved to do and people I loved to work with, of a beautiful building with all my beloved books. But in giving up, in losing, I gain free time to do things I've wanted to do forever, to spend time with family whom I love more than life. But as author Judith Viorst delineates, there are losses I unequivocally recommend this book to everyone, at whatever age. It was especially poignant for me to read it just as I resigned from full time work and started social security. I suffer the loss of a job I loved to do and people I loved to work with, of a beautiful building with all my beloved books. But in giving up, in losing, I gain free time to do things I've wanted to do forever, to spend time with family whom I love more than life. But as author Judith Viorst delineates, there are losses associated with every age and season. We must all go through these periods of giving up in order to grow and go through the next stage.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Lesley

    NECESSARY LOSSES reads like a textbook but serves as a bible. It took far too long to complete it, yet I had to digest the material bit by bit in order to experience the wealth of material to the fullest. Judith Viorst allowed me to revisit my past, birth to adulthood, where I confronted "demons" and found consolation and truth.From adulthood I revisited the childbearing years with all the confusion and delight those times entailed. Finally I have confronted my twilight with the sensitive suppor NECESSARY LOSSES reads like a textbook but serves as a bible. It took far too long to complete it, yet I had to digest the material bit by bit in order to experience the wealth of material to the fullest. Judith Viorst allowed me to revisit my past, birth to adulthood, where I confronted "demons" and found consolation and truth.From adulthood I revisited the childbearing years with all the confusion and delight those times entailed. Finally I have confronted my twilight with the sensitive support of the author. I have asked the questions and sought the answers that will be my future. As a sixty year old woman, Judith's work took me "time traveling" where I confronted pain, pity, pleasure and purpose. It will remain on my bookshelf and will be reviewed in my private hours as I journey on. It will also serve as a resource for my children, three young adults starting out on their own in a challenging time.Understanding and accepting life's necessary losses is indispensable...

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Wow. This is really a terribly depressing book. The author describes all of the "necessary losses" we must endure in life but doesn't offer any insight about how to deal with it. She basically just says, "Loss is the nature of life. Suck it up." Ke-rist. If I'm going to read 327 pages about the things that I will have to lose in life, could you at least offer up a little hope? Also, she bases her ideas on Freudian philosophy. If you ask me, Freud was a KOOK. I did however learn that I tend towar Wow. This is really a terribly depressing book. The author describes all of the "necessary losses" we must endure in life but doesn't offer any insight about how to deal with it. She basically just says, "Loss is the nature of life. Suck it up." Ke-rist. If I'm going to read 327 pages about the things that I will have to lose in life, could you at least offer up a little hope? Also, she bases her ideas on Freudian philosophy. If you ask me, Freud was a KOOK. I did however learn that I tend towards indiscriminate and excessive neurotic guilt. I need to lose that.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Travis

    "I should be dealing with my demons but I'm dodging them instead" John Mooreland. And to paraphrase Mark Twain, "There are two types of people: Those that know they have fears to face and those that are liars." But that also means we all have treasures to claim... Not facing our fears causes trouble. "Frequently we bring about what we fear." says Judith Viorst in Necessary Losses. She says "I do unhesitatingly embrace Freud’s conviction that our past, with all of its clamorous wishes and terrors a "I should be dealing with my demons but I'm dodging them instead" John Mooreland. And to paraphrase Mark Twain, "There are two types of people: Those that know they have fears to face and those that are liars." But that also means we all have treasures to claim... Not facing our fears causes trouble. "Frequently we bring about what we fear." says Judith Viorst in Necessary Losses. She says "I do unhesitatingly embrace Freud’s conviction that our past, with all of its clamorous wishes and terrors and passions, inhabits our present, and his belief in the enormous power of our unconscious—of that region outside our awareness—to shape the events of our life. I also embrace his belief that consciousness helps, that recognizing what we’re doing helps, and that our self-understanding can expand the realm of our choices and possibilities." One of the most impactful books I've ever read. This book has found it's way into much of my music. Probably most clearly in "The Pain". "I hold on to the pain. Just won't let it go Even thou it's no good for my soul I hold on to the pain. Just won't let it be. Seems it's become. Too big a part of me." The Pain Necessary Losses helps us to face our fears and claim our treasures.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jodi

    A lady at my book club kept referring to this book and so I finally read it. Kind of depressing and at times I didn't like it at all. I understand her point that we need to give some things up so we can grow, but still awful to think about. It was also a tad dry. How could the author who wrote, "Alexander and the No Good Very Bad Day" have written this book too?!? Quotes I liked: p. 163 "A normal adolescent describes two major goals in life 1. putting an end to the threat of nuclear holocaust and A lady at my book club kept referring to this book and so I finally read it. Kind of depressing and at times I didn't like it at all. I understand her point that we need to give some things up so we can grow, but still awful to think about. It was also a tad dry. How could the author who wrote, "Alexander and the No Good Very Bad Day" have written this book too?!? Quotes I liked: p. 163 "A normal adolescent describes two major goals in life 1. putting an end to the threat of nuclear holocaust and 2. owning five knit shirts with a Ralph Lauren label." p. 204 "The married state...the completest image of heaven and hell we are capable of receiving in this life." p.256 "Indeed, it has often been said, that in becoming parents ourselves, we now understand what our mother and father went through and thus can no longer blame and denounce them, as once we could easily do, for all that we suffered at their hands." p. 261 "....in those years from ages thirty-five to forty-five or fifty, we learn that many hopes remain unredeemed. There is plenty we wanted, and did not receive from our parents. It is time to know, and accept, that we never will."

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ginni Dickinson

    Really great stuff in this book by Judith Viorst. (Yes, she is also the children's author who wrote "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day," think that is the title.) If you are suffering a loss, going through a life transition or just trying to understand life, love and relationships give this book a look. You don't have to read it cover to cover. But do read the chapters on friendship and marriage. Some might take issue with her heavy references to Freudian theory--but ev Really great stuff in this book by Judith Viorst. (Yes, she is also the children's author who wrote "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day," think that is the title.) If you are suffering a loss, going through a life transition or just trying to understand life, love and relationships give this book a look. You don't have to read it cover to cover. But do read the chapters on friendship and marriage. Some might take issue with her heavy references to Freudian theory--but even Freud eventually did. As Viorst so succintly says, "Losing is the price we pay for living. It is also the source of much of our growth and gain...We have to deal with our necessary losses. We should understand how these losses are linked to our gains." To my this is a very human way to embrace all that we go through in our lives.

  15. 4 out of 5

    C.E. G

    Ho boy, this helped me discover that I'm really not into Freudian psychoanalysis. This has such high ratings and I was in the mood for a good self-help book, but psychoanalysis just seems like a lot of baseless patriarchal conjecture to me. Plus, all the gender/sexuality stuff made it feel pretty dated (Viorst: we're all basically bisexual, but hetero=evolved and homo=stuck in a earlier Oedipal stage). I didn't read all the way to the end, but well enough over half that I felt like I'd gotten th Ho boy, this helped me discover that I'm really not into Freudian psychoanalysis. This has such high ratings and I was in the mood for a good self-help book, but psychoanalysis just seems like a lot of baseless patriarchal conjecture to me. Plus, all the gender/sexuality stuff made it feel pretty dated (Viorst: we're all basically bisexual, but hetero=evolved and homo=stuck in a earlier Oedipal stage). I didn't read all the way to the end, but well enough over half that I felt like I'd gotten the picture of her philosophy. I want to find something either 1) a little more evidence based or 2) that hits me in the heart a little harder.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Lorna Collins

    This was a book I had to read a chapter at a time and then reflect on it. I survived quite a bit of loss from the time I was a very small child, and this book helped me to understand the impact of that loss. One or two chapters opened up very deep emotions. I spent one weekend in bed sobbing after reading one. nevertheless, I highly recommend this book to anyone dealing with loss or abandonment issues. It was wonderfully insightful and helped me deal with issues too long buried.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Payal

    Nothing about us is perfect. Humans have good and bad in them and life is easier when we accept that. This book talks about humans and their lives, offering great perspective to how we engage with people around us and ourselves. Psychoanalysis has a lot of answers to offer and like everything the answers are imperfect. Pick this book up when you have questions about people and relationships and self. A book that will stay on my bookshelf forever.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Tess Schmidt

    A lengthy read as I often let what I had read simmer for a while before picking the book up again. It is packed with insight and information, my perspective on these matters is decidedly better having read this book. I am grateful to have had it as my companion as I experienced an unparalleled amount of deaths in my circle over 2017.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Chandra Diana

    Well written and interesting but really damn depressing.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jonny

    I can't recommend this one enough. Going through a season of loss myself, it truly helps to put them into appropriate context. Every phase of life has losses to ensure and there a part of our growth, all the way to our death. Deeply rooted in faith, but not Christian, it's still a book great for pastors, leaders, and disciples.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Gregg Bell

    I was taking this book to the health club one night to read while I walked on the treadmill. I ran into a friend of mine there, and he saw I was carrying a book and excitedly asked me, "What you reading?" I turned the book toward him so he could see the title, and his face fell. "Oh," he said. "Pretty heavy." "Yeah," I said. "But worth it." That sums up the book. Another Reader's Digest description can be plucked from the inside cover. The book is about "what we have to give up to grow." And yet I was taking this book to the health club one night to read while I walked on the treadmill. I ran into a friend of mine there, and he saw I was carrying a book and excitedly asked me, "What you reading?" I turned the book toward him so he could see the title, and his face fell. "Oh," he said. "Pretty heavy." "Yeah," I said. "But worth it." That sums up the book. Another Reader's Digest description can be plucked from the inside cover. The book is about "what we have to give up to grow." And yet the book is about so much more. It is filled with deep psychological and emotional insights of all kinds. The book is about life, all kinds of life. And if you're struggling in your life, some of those insights may be just the lifeline you're looking for. I know one thing in particular that was for me. I have always felt bad about things. That I deserved bad things to happen. Always been waiting for the proverbial "other shoe to fall." It's baffled me through the years. I've denied it, powerfully, worked to overcome it, but I've never been able to shake it. Reading "Necessary Losses" gave me a clue toward understanding the problem that brought me great, if not total, relief. In a section on unconscious guilt (my malady) Viorst writes: "It was Freud who first observed that analysts sometimes work with patients who ferociously resist relief from their symptoms, who seem to hold on for dear life to emotional pain, and who cling to this pain because it gives them the punishment that they don't even know they want for crimes they don't even know that they have committed. He notes ruefully, however, that a neurosis which has defied an analyst's best efforts may suddenly vanish if the patient gets into an unhappy marriage, loses all his money or becomes dangerously ill. 'In such instances,' writes Freud, 'one form of suffering has been replaced by another; and we see that all that mattered was that it should be possible to maintain a certain amount of suffering.'" That was me. If I felt bad or guilty about something happening in my life and that suffering was alleviated, I instantly (without conscious awareness) felt bad or guilty about something else. The passage quoted above helped me to see that it was indeed this need in me to feel bad, and not my circumstances, which was the issue causing my suffering. This was a huge insight. It helped me focus on the issue of why I deemed myself worthy of suffering and not on the smokescreen of my circumstances. It opened up a lot. I honestly feel this book would do the same for anyone. Here's a typical insight: "Analyst Selma Fraiberg writes that a healthy conscience produces guilt feelings commensurate with the act and that guilt feelings serve to prevent our repeating such acts. 'But the neurotic conscience, ' she writes, 'behaves like a gestapo headquarters within the personality, mercilessly tracking down dangerous or potentially dangerous ideas and every remote relative of these ideas, accusing, threatening, tormenting in an interminable inquisition to establish guilt for trivial offenses or crimes committed in dreams. Such guilt feelings have the effect of putting the whole personality under arrest...'" The book's main topic is about losses. Leaving the womb, leaving home, losing parents, losing friendships, losing health and yes, eventually, losing our lives. I know, it sounds heavy, like my friend at the health club said, but again, the book is so worth it. Viorst writes about things it takes a lot of courage to write about, not in a self-aggrandizing or sensationalistic way, but in a way that is honest, and that honesty opens the doors to insights in our own lives. For instance she talks about hating, yes hating, the people we love. Such hate is only to a certain degree, of course, but just the honesty Viorst conveys is enough to make a reader a little queasy. But if you can endure the queasiness, it will lead to clarity. In a chapter called "Family Feelings" she states: "'Our subjective experience of life and our behaviors,' writes psychoanalyst Roger Gould, 'are governed by literally thousands of beliefs (ideas) that compose the map used for interpreting the events of our life (including our own mental events). When we grow, we correct a belief that has restricted and restrained us unnecessarily. For example, when we learn as young people that there is no universal law requiring us to be what our parents wanted us to be, we are released to explore and experiment. A door to a new level of consciousness is opened...'" I submit that many such doors are opened in this fine book. Yes, it's heavy, but if you want to grow, the heavy things are the best.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Lynda Benninger

    The author talks about the losses of childhood, of impossible expectations we bring to all our relationships and the loss of people we love. I read Judith Viorst other books and loved her humour, but this is a serious book that helps the reader deal with our necessary losses

  23. 5 out of 5

    Stacey

    This book makes me insanely angry. It reminds me of the college days I used to listen to Dr. Laura on the radio and arrive back at our dump of an apartment FIRED UP. While saying that, I agreed with some of what Dr. Laura said, I just hated her delivery. I don't agree with this and find it doesn't line up with my biblical worldview. No, we should not indulge our daydreams and fantasies, to begin with... we should cal sin "sin". In the mean time, don't mention this book to me if you are unprepare This book makes me insanely angry. It reminds me of the college days I used to listen to Dr. Laura on the radio and arrive back at our dump of an apartment FIRED UP. While saying that, I agreed with some of what Dr. Laura said, I just hated her delivery. I don't agree with this and find it doesn't line up with my biblical worldview. No, we should not indulge our daydreams and fantasies, to begin with... we should cal sin "sin". In the mean time, don't mention this book to me if you are unprepared for my tirade against Freud and Viorst's thought on Necessary Losses. Isn't Freud's day done? At the same time, I think the idea of "necessary losses" worth considering-- Particularly the separation from parents, letting go of children and other griefs. On Mother's Day I was subjected to a humiliating family video at my cousins house. It was a peek into extended family gatherings through all my awkward adolescent days (think big bangs and braces)--in every video I was holding a Teddy Bear-- Why didn't they tell me I was too old. That was a loss I should have experienced much earlier. It will make a great book club selesction.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    Judith Viorst fascinates me. She's currently 85 and looks about 70. She's had a writing career that has spanned just about all genres, and she then decided, just for kicks, to study psychoanalysis for 6 years in middle age and become a psychoanalytical researcher. So, she not only has all of those brilliant books for kids that I grew up reading, but she's a poet, a fiction writer, and, oh yeah, she also writes non-fiction psychology books. And here's the best part. . . her psychology books, well, Judith Viorst fascinates me. She's currently 85 and looks about 70. She's had a writing career that has spanned just about all genres, and she then decided, just for kicks, to study psychoanalysis for 6 years in middle age and become a psychoanalytical researcher. So, she not only has all of those brilliant books for kids that I grew up reading, but she's a poet, a fiction writer, and, oh yeah, she also writes non-fiction psychology books. And here's the best part. . . her psychology books, well, at least this one, have a literary quality to them. Meaning, she's not just suggesting how Freud thinks your mama might have messed you up, she's throwing in poetry and literature and mythology as well. When she made a reference to a Maurice Sendak book in the first few pages, I knew we were going to get along well. It's still tough to read about what we do with our loss and abandonment and grief, and I never fly through that type of material, nor should I. I had to take it in small doses and ease my way through it, but I think her non-judgemental approach, seasoned writing style and literary references become the spoonful of sugar that helps the medicine go down.

  25. 5 out of 5

    maria mahamid

    With the help of this book I can finally conclude that I am not a big fan of Freudian theories. I really had high hopes that I would like this book, since I do believe, that the idea of having to let go of what we hold deep to us is truly a necessary loss, and a healthy one too. But having to connect every little incident of our life with some freudian theory seems to be a little bit troublesome. For not every anxiety dates back to our separation anxiety and not every feeling a human being goes With the help of this book I can finally conclude that I am not a big fan of Freudian theories. I really had high hopes that I would like this book, since I do believe, that the idea of having to let go of what we hold deep to us is truly a necessary loss, and a healthy one too. But having to connect every little incident of our life with some freudian theory seems to be a little bit troublesome. For not every anxiety dates back to our separation anxiety and not every feeling a human being goes through can be explained with a model or a template. I think we are more complicated than to simply describe our coming to adolescence with the Oedipus Complex. The last chapters of the book were too repetitive and lacking in content. Throughout the whole book I felt like the author was trying to prove a point by throwing in as many names and theory as she can rather than discuss them. To be fair I enjoyed some of the examples and found them relatable, but over all I think the book could have been better edited.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Mariano Pallottini

    This was the most important book of my life. I is so pleasent to read it that I can say this book is a masterpiece. You can always identify the influences of most known psychoanalysts, but it is far from dogmatic. We can feel this book very close to us because reveals how all of us suffer a succession of separations and losses from which we grow and how is possible to refuse the losses, committing our common mistakes just for the fear of pain.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Juli Kinrich

    I wish I had discovered this book 30 years ago, (even though it wasn't written that many years ago!). It could have saved me a lot of heartache and anger. But better late than never. A very illuminating book, helping me understand both the losses anybody endures as well as the specific losses that shaped me. The chapter on marriage (Chapter 13) will be one I turn to time and again to remind myself of all the wisdom there.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Brennan

    I really thought I would like this book. It had a great premise that I believe in clinically - that we all need to grieve the many losses we experience throughout our lives - not just the grief associated with the death of loved ones. But the author veers too far in the psychoanalytic theory without any real research to support its claims. The book needed a good editor. I really didn't like it and wouldn't recommend it.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Parv

    A real kick-in-the-pants ... this is no lightweight read, nor is its message. This should be required reading for all couples wanting to be on the 'married side' of the divorce-statistic ... right up there along with 'Passionate Marriage'.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Tricia Veech

    Brilliant. Another book I frequently recommend to clients who are experiencing loss (which covers just about everyone). Wrote a paper on this book in graduate school and it is one of the few books I re-read regularly.

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