Beyond Happiness: Deepening the Dialogue Between Buddhism, Psychotherapy and the Mind Sciences, by Gay Watson
Karnac Books, 9781855754041, 193 pp. (incl. appendices), 2008

Psychology, psychotherapy and the mind sciences have shown a growing interest in their links with the Buddhist models of the mind and the Buddhist psychology, this book is another effort to put forth some of what has been coming out of this interaction.

While it may seem odd, I was glad in the intro when Watson admitted her limitations for this writing she is “not a scientist and freely admit that my understanding of these fields come from secondary sources which report back to the interest layperson from the fields of research.”1 Several books I’ve read on this topic have the authors presenting themselves as more of an authority than perhaps they have the right to.

Beyond Happiness also goes beyond similar books, for it not only discusses Buddhism in light of psychology but includes neuroscience and neurobiology as part of the exploration. The book follows the pattern of View, Meditation, and Action, a familiar pattern of thought to many Buddhists.

Watson covers the “softer” approaches of psychotherapy and the links it has with Buddhism and how it is important to Buddhism. She then moves into more of the scientific realm touching on the different types of brain cells, and the working models of the brain, and how these models and their predictions have great value to the study of Buddhism. Lastly she explores how the practices and views of Buddhism are valuable to the practice of psychotherapy.

The writing itself seemed to shift from being intuitive and evocative, into being dry and technical, not so much as to disrupt the reading, but enough that I felt some parts of the book connected with me more than others based on how they were expressed rather than what they contained. Another point in the book I found enjoyable and useful was Watson’s clear citing of sources, and an excellent bibliography, allowing myself and others like me, to be able to track down more of the interesting works that she drew upon to create this book.

An interesting book, and a good resource for those interested in Buddhism, psychotherapy and the mind sciences, and where they intersect.

  1. p. x []