New and Noteworthy:

Enlightening Conversations: Enlightenment: Idealized or Real?

Psychoanalysts and Buddhist Teachers Talking About Idealization and Awakening

EC-Blue-White-ECThe Second Program in a series in which Psychoanalysts and Buddhist teachers speak openly and honestly about the nitty-gritty of human liberation. Through panels and small group conversations, these conferences engage all participants — speakers and audience — in reflective conversations about our discoveries from deep investigations of the mind. Idealization, with its tendencies to split our experiences into expansive and contractive or pure and impure, is required to enter into psychoanalytic and Buddhist practices. When idealization is not humanized, however, it leads to destructive projections, self-attacks, lying and ethical violations. This conference will focus precisely on what it means to be enlightened and how it is a human activity with human failures.

November 13-14, 2015
Enlightening Conversations at Harvard Divinity School, Cambridge, MA



Seven Days: Learning about Love Through Alzheimer’s Disease

Polly and Ed in Kevin O’Connor

Vermont psychologist Polly Young-Eisendrath remembers all the questions she aimed at her husband: Why had he racked up some $70,000 in unexplained credit card bills; written another $57,000 in checks to himself from their joint account; and, most disturbingly, anxiously defied her repeated call for answers?

“The bottom has dropped out of everything that promised security in my life,” she recalls thinking. “I no longer can count on marriage, finances and any vestiges of control over my circumstances.”

Then Young-Eisendrath learned that her husband, Ed Epstein, had early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.

For some, the brain ailment is simply a plot point in dramas such as Still Alice, the current film in which Oscar front-runner Julianne Moore portrays a fiftysomething professor losing her memory. But for an estimated 200,000 Americans, depictions of that impairment hit painfully close to home.

“We knew something was seriously wrong, but when you’re in your fifties, you don’t want to think of that,” Young-Eisendrath says in an interview. “The day he was diagnosed, I had to revise all my plans for the future. I said to myself, Everything has changed. There’s no way to fix it. What can I do now?

Like many clients blindsided by a death, divorce or layoff, the Worcester therapist and writer faced a tidal wave of emotions. She nevertheless found reason to stay with every terrifying yet teachable moment.

“As long as I don’t deny my feelings,” she remembers telling herself, “I can investigate with a gentle awareness what my life is now presenting me.” READ MORE


The Present Heart:  A Memoir of Love, Loss and Discovery

The Present Heart

The Present Heart is an insightful journey of living in the present moment. In a deeply moving yet unsentimental voice, Young-Eisendrath draws on her lifelong practices of Buddhism and psychoanalysis and her own unique view of love, as well as a circle of profound thinkers including author Abigail Thomas, psychoanalyst Nancy McWilliams, and Buddhist teacher Shinzen Young.

A thoughtful meditation on the human experience, The Present Heart shows how our most intimate relationships, often the source of our greatest pain, can prove to be our path to spiritual enlightenment. The book offers a new perspective on how to maintain engaged, reciprocal relationships—with a partner, parent, child, or friend—under any and all circumstances.

Available at book stores everywhere and online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and IndieBound.