Blown Away: Refinding Life After My Son's Suicide (Hardcover)

Blown Away: Refinding Life After My Son's Suicide By Richard Boothby Cover Image

Blown Away: Refinding Life After My Son's Suicide (Hardcover)


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This powerful memoir follows a father’s journey to make sense of his world after losing his son to addiction and suicide.

Fifteen years ago, Richard Boothby received a fateful call from his ex-wife that their twenty-three-year-old son, Oliver, was dead. Although Richard had been dreading this news, given Oliver’s prolonged struggle with drug dependency, nothing could have prepared him for the devastating shock. He became obsessed with uncovering the truth of why Oliver shot himself—had he been self-medicating an undiagnosed mental illness?—and what they could have done to prevent it. 
    In an attempt to stem the pain, Boothby turned to psychoanalysis. He was no stranger to the concept—as a professor of philosophy, he had focused his career on the intersection between psychoanalytic theory and contemporary philosophy—but this was far from an academic exercise. Through his time in talk therapy, as well as psychedelic experiences in a research study on psilocybin, he would gradually find a sense of acceptance of the unknown, and a renewed appreciation for life. 
    Exploring the epidemics of substance abuse and gun violence from an intimate perspective, Boothby’s poignant account of grief shows how the death of a loved one can in some ways bring us closer to them and ourselves.
Richard Boothby is Professor of Philosophy at Loyola University Maryland. He is the author of Sex on the Couch: What Freud Still Has to Teach Us About Sex and Gender, Death and Desire: Psychoanalytic Theory in Lacan’s Return to Freud, and Freud as Philosopher: Metapsychology after Lacan.

Product Details ISBN: 9781635422603
ISBN-10: 1635422604
Publisher: Other Press
Publication Date: May 31st, 2022
Pages: 320
Language: English
“Our deepest grief can be a moment of profound self-understanding. Richard Boothby wrestles with this paradox in this honest, intelligent memoir, a testament to the powers of analysis in the face of uncommon pain.” —Stéphane Gerson, author of Disaster Falls: A Family Story

Blown Away is the most aptly titled book I’ve ever read. No one can read this account of a son’s death and the father’s aftermath without experiencing it as a life-altering event. Not since Augustine’s Confessions has a memoir been at the same time a pathbreaking work of philosophy. Boothby takes us from the confrontation with incalculable loss to a meditation on the centrality of absence for living a genuine life. He has converted his despair into a transformative work for everyone who picks it up.” —Todd McGowan, author of Universality and Identity Politics

Blown Away is a remarkable account of grief and recovery—searing, heartfelt, profoundly honest, and dare I say, interesting. The best writing is always, at the core, exploration. This is an epic excavation. What’s most satisfying here is the hyper-focus of the lens, the recalibration that cumulatively allows us to come to a new understanding of the experiential world of evolving self-awareness, loss, and finally love.” —Karen Fish, author of No Chronology

“It is not easy to write exactingly about the suicide of a loved one, nor the personal revelations that unfold in a rigorous psychoanalysis. Richard Boothby has miraculously managed both, showing us how the tears in the fabric of our being need not be covered over with sentimental fantasies in order to live again, but can become the ground for a new way of knowing what can never be known in any life. I was, to make the difficult pun, blown away by this book.” —Jamieson Webster, author of Conversion Disorder and coauthor of Stay, Illusion!

“A soul-piercing account of loss and its miraculous transformation into new life, even creativity. Boothby’s autobiography of grappling with his son’s addiction and suicide grabs the reader from the first paragraph and gathers force from one page to the next. This book is the most compelling, desperately honest rendering of heartbreak and redemption I have come across: its power is undeniable. It is a gift to anyone who has ever truly suffered.” —Mari Ruti, Distinguished Professor, University of Toronto

“The book is well written and makes one feel as if one is reading a Dostoevsky tragedy.” —Wilfried Ver Eecke, author of Breaking through Schizophrenia: Lacan and Hegel for Talk Therapy

“An immensely moving tale…Trenchantly and crisply told, this tale will shake your foundations. It did mine.” —C. Edward Robins, STD, PhD, Clinical Director of Dr. Robins & Associates, New York City
“In a narrative as sparklingly insightful as it is excruciatingly heartrending, Richard Boothby tells the riveting story of how he has survived the unsurvivable. Devastated by his son Oliver’s addiction-precipitated suicide, this philosopher, one of the world’s greatest Lacanian thinkers, was forced by personal tragedy to re-examine not only the intimate details of his life history, but also fundamental ideas about knowledge, love, death, and even God. Like Boothby himself, those who traverse this memoir will gain a hard-won new appreciation of what truly matters in life.” —Adrian Johnston, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, University of New Mexico

“Balanced between compelling story and a brilliant form, Blown Away leads us through Boothby’s mourning work and, yes, to the wisdom and growth that can come from loss.” —Thomas Brockelman, author of Diving for Pearls: Exploring Philosophy with My Father

“Richard Boothby’s courageous, deeply moving meditation on mourning and rebirth will resonate powerfully with anyone who has been a parent or has lost a loved one.” —Mark Osteen, author of One of Us: A Family’s Life with Autism

Blown Away is a black mirror into the inner folds of subjectivity and the way haunting traumas try to help the individual to liberate itself from demons that cannot be confronted head-on. The sometimes shocking intimacy of the book makes it a true universal masterpiece.” —Dominik Finkelde, Munich School of Philosophy

“Read in a single sitting that seemed like a single beating of a heart transfixed by this remarkable act of love. One reads this book, as one must, from the deepest register of one’s emotional and psychological experience.” —Walter A. Davis, Professor Emeritus, Ohio State University

“In lucid and lyrical prose, Boothby recounts his psychoanalytic exploration of the complex truth that the pain of loss encountered in every tender memory could be the opening to a more profound connection to his son and to himself. It is rare to encounter such a moving and evocative illumination of the essence of a psychoanalytic process.” —Molly Anne Rothenberg, Training and Supervising Analyst, New Orleans-Birmingham Psychoanalytic Center

“A mind-blowing, heartbreaking, immensely honest work that continues to reverberate right through my soul.” —Eric Black, film director, AWARE: Glimpses of Consciousness

Praise for Freud as Philosopher:
“It is in books like this that we should look for the renaissance of American thought! If the term ‘classic’ has any meaning today, Freud as Philosopher is it!” —Slavoj Žižek

“Many have tried to uncover the philosophical underpinnings of Freudian psychoanalysis, but none has succeeded so convincingly as does Richard Boothby…This remarkably insightful thesis is brilliantly and lucidly argued in a book that will make a permanent difference in all future readings of Freud and Lacan.” —Edward Casey, State University of New York at Stony Brook