Mark Epstein

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Epstein in 2012

Mark Epstein (born 1953) is an American author and psychotherapist who integrates Shakyamuni Buddha's teachings with Sigmund Freud's approaches to trauma. He often writes about the interface of Buddhism and psychotherapy.[1]

Personal life[edit]

Epstein said he has experienced transgenerational trauma.[2] He is married to the artist Arlene Shechet and has two children.[3]


Epstein is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Medical School. After completing his psychiatry residency at what is now New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, he entered the private practice of psychiatry in New York City. He is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at New York University School of Medicine.[4] He was interviewed for segments of the PBS documentary The Buddha.[5]

Meditation practitioner and author[edit]

Epstein went to a Buddhist summer camp in Boulder, Colorado, where he met his first Buddhist teachers, Joseph Goldstein and Jack Kornfield. In his early 20s, he traveled to Ajahn Chah's forest Buddhist monastery near Bangkok, Thailand, together with these teachers as well as with Richard Alpert.[1] He has practiced insight meditation since 1974.[6]

He is a contributing editor to Tricycle: The Buddhist Review and his books include Thoughts Without a Thinker and Going to Pieces without Falling Apart. Both books deal with the Eastern teachings of non-self.


"In resisting trauma and in defending ourselves from feeling its full impact, we deprive ourselves of its truth."[7]

"I think it's so easy to extrapolate from this moment as if we know what's going to happen in a week, or a month, or three months, or six months, or a year. And this is one of those situations. The Buddha was always talking about it, of the importance of uncertainty. That really, we don't know what the next moment is going to bring."[citation needed]

"For myself, I feel like all those retreats that I've been on, they really help. Because this way of living is so much like being on retreat. You can sort of feel what the weather is going to be the next day, but you don't know much more than that."[citation needed]

"In this time when people are much more secluded than they're used to, when they're quarantined, when they're in the home, when they don't quite know what to do with themselves, there's a real opportunity to bring this quality of mindful awareness to the particulars of one's life. There's a real opportunity to be much more alive, and awake, and aware in one's day-to-day life."[8]


  • 2022 The Zen of Therapy: Uncovering a Hidden Kindness in Life, The Penguin Press, New York, NY., ISBN 978-0593296615
  • 2018 Advice Not Given: A Guide to Getting Over Yourself, The Penguin Press,New York, NY.,ISBN 978-0399564321
  • 2013 The Trauma of Everyday Life, The Penguin Press, The Penguin Press,New York, NY.,ISBN 978-0143125747
  • 2008 Going on Being: Life at the Crossroads of Buddhism and Psychotherapy, Wisdom Publications, Somerville, Mass., ISBN 0-86171-569-1
  • 2008 Psychotherapy Without the Self: A Buddhist Perspective, Yale University Press, New Haven, CT, ISBN 0-300-14313-3
  • 2005 Open to Desire: The Truth about What the Buddha Taught, Gotham Books, New York, ISBN 1-59240-108-2
  • 1998 Going to Pieces Without Falling Apart, Broadway Books, New York, ISBN 0-7679-0235-1
  • 1995 Thoughts Without a Thinker: Psychotherapy from a Buddhist Perspective, Basic Books, New York, ISBN 0-465-03931-6[4]


  1. ^ a b Mark Epstein. Freud and Buddha Archived 2014-03-09 at the Wayback Machine, Network of Spiritual Progressives
  2. ^ The Trauma of Being Alive, p.2, New York Times, 3 August 2013
  3. ^ Sheets, Hilarie M. (2015-06-09). "As the Art World Swoons over Playful Ceramics, Arlene Shechet Hits Her Stride". Artsy. Retrieved 2020-03-08.
  4. ^ a b "buddhism and psychotherapy by Mark Epstein".
  5. ^ "The Buddha | PBS". Retrieved 2020-03-31.
  6. ^ "#27: Mark Epstein". Ten Percent Happier.
  7. ^ The Trauma of Being Alive, New York Times, 3 August 2013
  8. ^ Mark Epstein: The Importance of Uncertainty, Hurry Slowly, 21 April 2020

External links[edit]