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What am I? And Why Do I Suffer?

Iqubal Birdi’s new reference text on the existential dimension of human psychology is a very well-modulated work attuned to the times. Its aims are very well accomplished, predicated on the following points:

• charting a range of cross-disciplinary approaches and theories relating to human nature, experience and behavior (including biological, psychological, social-cultural, linguistic, spiritual and existential); suggesting, within each of these how they may be seen to relate to the human condition, suffering, and to reducing emotional and psychological distress;

• discussing current postmodernist/post-structuralist concerns about the essence of what we are (i.e. whether we really are essential and substantial individuals, or whether we are merely sociolinguistic and sociocultural constructs or subjects)

• incorporates eastern philosophies and psychologies (e.g. Buddhism and mindfulness) in relation to what we are, reality, the mind, the self, and suffering;

• identifying, in its conclusion, a number of elicited principles and practices a person may incorporate into their daily living to reduce suffering and increase psychological and emotional well-being;

• and offering a schematic representation of its general concepts in relation to the human condition, its levels, components, and processes, which can be used to refer to or underpin understanding and for readers’ further discussion, exploration and researches.