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Dan Gottlieb, 'Learning from the Heart'

Family therapist and call-in radio host Dan Gottlieb has helped many people through some of the most difficult passages of their lives. He's also endured a great deal of physical and emotional pain of his own: Nearly 29 years ago, a car accident left him paralyzed from the chest down.

Advancements in medical science mean that Gottlieb is part of the first generation with quadriplegia to survive into their late 50s. So Gottlieb has had nearly three decades to come to terms with the changed and changing circumstances of his body — a body he fears may now be growing tired. Crucially, as he explains to Terry Gross, he's learned not to think antagonistically about that body, despite his increasingly precarious health.

"I care for my body like it is a fragile lover that I adore," Gottlieb says. While immediately after his accident, he "felt betrayed" by his body, he's come to be deeply appreciative of what he describes as its heroism.

"My body has served me nobly; it has worked very hard, way above and beyond," he says.

Gottlieb has had several near-death experiences, and he finds himself sad sometimes — but by and large he doesn't feel afraid.

"When I feel death nearby, I feel life nearby," says Gottlieb. The awareness of the one fuels a heightened awareness of the other — and Gottlieb says that awareness is available to everyone, not just those dealing with illness.

Gottlieb hosts the weekly call-in counseling show Voices In the Family, which like Fresh Air originates at WHYY in Philadelphia. He writes a bimonthly column in The Philadelphia Inquirer, and has written three previous books, including Letters to Sam, a kind of epistolary advice column dedicated to his grandson, who has autism.

Gottlieb's new book is called Learning from the Heart: Lessons on Living, Loving, and Listening.

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