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Love's Executioner

4.16 of 5 stars 4.16  ·  rating details  ·  9,564 ratings  ·  373 reviews
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...more
ebook, 304 pages
Published June 1st 2012 by Basic Books (AZ) (first published 1989)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Paquita Maria Sanchez
Your therapist is judging you. Sorry, it sucks. I know the idea is that they are objective observers looking out for your best interest rather than the often hypercritical, dismissive average human being with a capacity for conversational boredom and bad advice, but they're not. Especially not Dr. Yalom. Dr. Yalom hates fat people, he develops a sexual attraction to one of his patients' multiple personalities and encourages her to incorporate this split-self into her overarching self so she'll b...more
Chris Coffman
Jul 21, 2007 Chris Coffman rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
A friend gave me this book a few days ago. My friend is very well-educated, has lived all over the world, and has experienced more than most people. When he gave me the book, he said to me, "This book reflects my vision of the world".

How could I help but be intrigued?

Opening the book, he then read the following passage from the Preface: "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 w...more
The stories of 10 patients' experiences in psychotherapy - but they feel like much more.
The stories offer a surprisingly engaging window to peek into the struggles of patients w/ the very same existential pains and miseries everyone experiences. The author is a practicing therapist, and he based these stories on his patients (suitably amended to ensure anonymity). He reflects much on his own role in the therapeutic relationship, and these reflections are often as interesting as the stories of hi...more
Love's Executioner. God that's a good title. Vaguely profound statements are the best. (Fortune cookies anyone?) In this book, Yalom gives accounts of patients he has had. I am not sure what criteria were used in picking the case studies he did for the book; I imagine he has rich history of intriguing patients and these are no exception. In Love's Executioner you will read about interesting characters and their neuroses and watch from behind the scenes as Yalom applies his psychological scalpel...more
I read this book for a second time sometime last week and have been too busy to write anything about it. Currently I really need to be asleep and am not, so this will be slightly confused, short, and likely unnecessary, deal.

The first time that I read this book I appreciated the fact that Yalom's therapy is relationship based. It is really about the people and caring about those people. Instead of diagnosis and being crazy. Not to say that this can't be completely misinterpreted as I saw in my...more
This book gave a lot of insights into the therapeutic process, but I found the guy a total putz--very self-aware of his own reactions to the patients he describes, but not so concerned about their own experience of the process that he wouldn't describe them in great detail to the world at large. Also, just comes off as self-satisfied; it made the reading distasteful, and I didn't finish in the end. I couldn't stand the supercilious sense he gives of being in some way, better than his clients.
Tracy Sherman
There is no adventure more exciting, nothing so wonderful and frightening, and so fraught with danger, as delving into the mind of a human being.
On that point alone this book is moving and emotional and funny as few works of fiction can be.

When going on such a perilous journey into the true heart of darkness it behooves one to have an experienced and trustworthy guide.
Dr. Irving Yalom knows the terrain and the beasts that lurk within... yet I would prefer having Fred C. Dobbs showing me the w...more
May 07, 2010 Emily rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: psychologists-to-be
This is not the book to read while you are actually in therapy. Although I think Love's Executioner Other Tales of Psychotherapy was meant to show people the "behind the scenes" of psychology, Dr. Yalom will make you question the motives of any practitioner, no matter how saintly. That's not to say that the book isn't intriguing, informative, or balanced; it is all of those things. It's just that Yalom comes across as unbearably arrogant in many of the case studies, which belies the work he's tr...more
This is a book I keep returning to. It's lasted on my shelf for five years now- and when I am feeling displaced, uncertain- I take a certain comfort in Yalom's well-told stories of the theraputic process.

Each of the stories is revelatory- after a few years of theraputic work myself- it's fascinating to see the other side- Yalom clearly explains transferance and countertransferance- explains his own prejudices and misgivings- and openly discusses his mistakes and missteps.

The actual human drama i...more
this is a series of essays, based on yalom's private practice. yalom is a freakin' massive genius is the world of psychology - he basically founded existential psychotherapy, and also was the first person to effectively use the group model in any productive way. (he uses the process group method, dbt uses a more classroom style approach.)

"the fat lady" is maybe the most famous story from here - what i love about yalom is you know he's the biggest pompous asshole, but at the same time, he's tota...more
"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."

It is not without reason that Love’s executioner and other tales has developed a reputation as one of the leading books accessible for a lay reader on the interactions of psychotherapy. It comprises of ten interesting stories, semi fictionali...more
In his introduction, Yalom lays out the fundamental ideas in which existential psychotherapy is grounded, including our “ultimate aloneness”: Existential isolation…refers to the unbridgeable gap between self and others, a gap that exists even in the presence of deeply gratifying interpersonal relationships – a seemingly strange premise for a book which consists of ten tales of a psychiatrist trying to understand and help his remarkable patients. Yalom, however, embraces the paradox and shares hi...more
Daniel Simmons
Much warmth and wisdom can be found in these pages. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the author explained as much if not more about his own internal processes and feelings in his therapeutic encounters with his patients than about the patients themselves; it's easy to forget that therapy is a two-way street with epiphanies and consequences on both sides. It was startling to discover, too, that the title of this book refers to its author -- "I hate to be love's executioner," he writes in t...more
I love this book and I love Yalom
Sean Endymion
I started reading this book with the expectation that I would find an interesting but nonetheless mechanical look into the brass tacks of psychiatry... and found something far more dangerous and intriguing: Dr. Yalom is a creative writer. And he's utterly brilliant.

Starting with the prologue, this work is filled with deep and genuine originality, taste, and introspection. Dr. Yalom's prose is sagaciously crafted, and a pleasure to read and reread.

The entirety of the collection is used as an abs...more
Apr 19, 2009 Chloé rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone with an interest in psychology
Recommended to Chloé by: a graduate student studying to become a clinical psychologist
This book is written by a psychotherapist, who has mainly existential views though he is flexible enough to adjust his practice to meet the needs of individuals. Each chapter follows an intriguing story of one of his patients - an overweight woman who loses almost 100 pounds, a terminally ill cancer patient, a widow, a mother grieving over the loss of her favorite daughter, etc. The cases shed light on the true practice of psychotherapy. It illustrates successful exchanges and frustrations alike...more
In "Love's Executioner", Yalom describes the presentation and treatment of 10 patients of his real-life from his psychotherapy practice. This is a book I selected on my own free will, but it ended up feeling more like a school assignment as I trudged to the ending. I chose the book for the play-by-play of the therapy hour, for Yalom's well-documented experience in psychotherapy and for my intimate knowledge of my own inexperience here at the beginning of my career. The motivation to read the boo...more
Sally McRogerson
I'm impressed with the guys honesty in recording his thoughts about his clients I have to say. He does seem to focus on the fanciableness or otherwise of his female clients which is something of a distraction for me as I don't tend to go down that road in thinking about my clients. Not that some of em aren't quite fanciable, just that that isn't the subject of my focus and doesn't enter my head whilst we're actually talking, either in group or private counselling sessions. Am a simple soul who c...more
Jul 11, 2009 K rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Therapists; lay-people interested in the therapeutic process
Love’s Executioner is a collection of ten true stories (identifying details have been changed to protect anonymity, of course) of patients in psychotherapy with Irvin Yalom and how his work with them progressed. Yalom’s tone manages to be both enjoyable on a literary level and enlightening on a professional level. He shares his personal and professional struggles in working with these patients and is honest about the mistakes he makes, including those born of arrogance or poor judgment. At the s...more
Mar 20, 2008 Carrie rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone in therapy, has been in therapy, needs therapy, wants to be a therapist
Five stars for now. I might take it down a notch later, but I really did enjoy this book a whole lot. It was really readable, and there were all kinds of personal insights I gained, from the characters I wouldn't have expected.

The book is basically this: each chapter is a somewhat fictionalized/generalized account of a patient in Yalom's therapy. It starts with their problem, and goes through the whole course of their therapy, and how that problem was "solved." Some are a little simplistic (it d...more
A friend recommended this book to me because she found it life-changing. I’m not sure that I’d say the same, but it did find it very moving and powerful. I suppose I expected the case studies to be more about the therapist applying a theoretical framework, like detective work. The author is much wiser than that, though. He insists that theoretical frameworks always end up being abandoned and that there isn’t one key memory from childhood that explains current pain. I suppose popular depictions o...more
Anna A.
Sep 20, 2014 Anna A. rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: thinkers seeking utter intellectual pleasure and insight
A deeply engaging book, easily warranting 7 stars from me!
As it was based on real people and real emotions - of which the most touching were the author's - it is very difficult to review, because its virtues and possible deficiencies are outside the usual "authority" of a reviewer.

Nomen est omen applies here, too: this book is a collection of 10 tales of psychotherapy, more specifically, of therapy sessions. Oh but it is so much more than that! Although I haven't read Dr. Yalom's more scholarly...more
Fascinating book about the relationship between therapist and patient, but with the analyst revealing the very human reactions that he has to his patients. These ten tales are wise, instructive, and some riveting in their twists and turns, especially the title story. It took me a little while to get into the book -- it demands more from you, but is ultimately very rewarding.
I didnt enjoy this book as much as i hoped i would, for me Dr Yalom's prose was a bit too repetative and the points he was making were sledge hammered home at times. His style of setting up each tale from a defined outlook until arriving at the denoument with a change of perspective was a bit of an easy device to fall back on, but i understand why he did this as its an easy to follow plot narrative. I did however enjoy 3 of the tales The Wrong One Died, Three Unopened Letters and In Search of Dr...more
This book was a fascinating glimpse into the sometimes bizarre relationship between psychotherapist and patient. While I appreciated Yalom's candor about his own feelings and reactions to his patients and what they divulged, I was frankly taken aback at the transferrance he described as sometimes flowing both ways. It seemed at first highly unprofessional, yet after reflection, it would be unrealistic to think even the most dedicated professional could empathetically listen to his patients' comp...more
This is a must-read for any therapist, but beyond that, it is just a really powerful look at the human condition and what it is to be open, empathetic and supportive enough to help people become their best selves. Yalom's writing is approachable and entertaining. It is written so that therapist or not, this book is enjoyable.

The other thing I love about reading Yalom is that I learn so many new words. Many are words I have heard before, but in the context of SAT study cards or while reading the...more
I have always enjoyed reading Yalom's books as his style of therapy always inspired me to be a better therapist. It's been a few years since I've actually engaged in psychotherapy, focusing instead on assessment, and this collection of writings and case studies reminded me of how much I enjoy (and miss) the art of psychotherapy and all that you can learn and gain from each individual you work with clinically. Yalom truly put himself on the stage in his writings, explicitly talking about his thou...more
I enjoyed these accounts of therapy and hearing about the process from the therapist's viewpoint. And his ideas and methods are compelling. But I did not enjoy his sexism and the objectification of his female patients. In particular, the story about an obese patient and his revulsion at her appearance was very upsetting. He does call this attitude "inexcusable" in his afterword (written 25 years after the book was published), but he also seems to think he redeemed himself in the story, which he...more
Lyndon Walker
Probably one of the most profoundly useful books for anybody engaged in the practice of Counselling or Therapy, of whatever brand. This marvellous memoir of a flawed hum being in the helping professions discovering his own quirks and idiosyncracies and how they emerge or are reflected in his work with others and his endless ongoing work with himself is the most honest and directly useful account I have read in contemporary practice history. It is probably, in my view, only matched by the best in...more
This is an interesting collection of case studies from the private practice of one of psychotherapy's big shots. Irvin Yalom has written several ubiquitous textbooks on the subject, but Love's Executioner is aimed at the layperson and reads like a collection of short stories. His goal in writing is not only to demystify psychotherapy, but specifically to shed light on the nature of transference and counter-transference that takes place in the relationship between therapist and patient. It is def...more
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Irvin David Yalom, M.D., is an author of fiction and nonfiction, Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry at Stanford University, an existentialist, and accomplished psychotherapist.
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“Some day soon, perhaps in forty years, there will be no one alive who has ever known me. That's when I will be truly dead - when I exist in no one's memory. I thought a lot about how someone very old is the last living individual to have known some person or cluster of people. When that person dies, the whole cluster dies,too, vanishes from the living memory. I wonder who that person will be for me. Whose death will make me truly dead?” 106 likes
“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.” 27 likes
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