Published by Harper Perennial on September 1st 2000
Challenge Theme: A nonfiction book
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The collection of ten absorbing tales by master psychotherapist Irvin D. Yalom uncovers the mysteries, frustrations, pathos, and humor at the heart of the therapeutic encounter. In recounting his patients’ dilemmas, Yalom not only gives us a rare and enthralling glimpse into their personal desires and motivations but also tells us his own story as he struggles to reconcile his all-too human responses with his sensibility as a psychiatrist. Not since Freud has an author done so much to clarify what goes on between a psychotherapist and a patient.
I find most books about psychology fascinating. With that being said this book was just ok for me. I enjoyed getting insights into different people’s therapy sessions however I found reading about Yalom’s opinions about his clients to be quite irritating. By the end of this book I really did not like Yalom. I understand therapists can’t be impartial, not matter how hard they try, but this man seems to me to be a narcissistic egomaniac. To me his thoughts about his clients interfered with their stories and made the chapters not as enjoyable. There were moments where I saw why he is a sought after psychotherapist but I would have preferred to just read about the sessions and not so much his personal opinions of his clients.
“Every therapist knows that the crucial first step in therapy is the patient’s assumption of responsibility for his or her life predicament. As long as one believes that one’s problems are cause by some force or agency outside oneself, there is no leverage in therapy. If, after all, the problems lies out there, when why should one change oneself?”
“Love is not just a passion spark between two people; there is infinite difference between falling in love and standing in love. Rather, love is a way of being, a “giving to,” not a ‘falling for”; a mode of relating at large, not an act limited to a single person.”
“Four givens are particularly relevant for psycho-therapy: the inevitability of death for each of us and for those we love; the freedom to make our lives as we will; our ultimate aloneness; and, finally, the absence of any obvious meaning or sense to life.”
“I do not like to work with patients who are in love. Perhaps it is because of envy—I, too, crave enchantment. Perhaps it is because love and psychotherapy are fundamentally incompatible. The good therapist fights darkness and seeks illumination, while romantic love is sustained by mystery and crumbles upon inspection. I hate to be love’s executioner.”