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Love's Executioner and Other Tales of Psychotherapy

4.16  ·  Rating Details  ·  13,743 Ratings  ·  518 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
Paperback, 304 pages
Published September 5th 2000 by Harper Perennial (first published 1989)
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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 it was amazing
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
Dec 30, 2014 Thomas rated it it was amazing
"From both my personal and professional experience, I had come to believe that the fear of death is always greatest in those who feel that they have not lived their life fully. A good working formula is: the more unlived life, or unrealized potential, the greater one's death anxiety."

In his book Love's Executioner, Irvin Yalom, a psychotherapist with several decades of experience, shares ten stories of individuals he counseled in a professional setting. Each of these tales revolves around differ
Mar 24, 2008 April rated it it was amazing
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
Tracy Sherman
May 08, 2014 Tracy Sherman rated it it was ok
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
May 07, 2010 Emily rated it liked it
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
Oct 11, 2012 Maxime rated it really liked it
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
Aug 22, 2011 Cassian rated it did not like it
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.
Jason Pettus
Last year I started seeing a therapist for the first time in my life, although not by deliberate choice but rather as a side benefit of something else -- namely, I attended one of those "computer coding bootcamp" programs here in Chicago, and one of the things they provide for their students for no cost is a licensed therapist on staff for weekly sessions. I ended up responding so well to the process, though, that I've continued seeing her in private practice ever since.

As part of this therapy p
Marty :}
Jan 24, 2016 Marty :} rated it really liked it
“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?”
I loved it, gave me insight of how the therapist-patient r
Sean Endymion
Mar 05, 2011 Sean Endymion rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Sean by: Sarah Jane
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
Jan 29, 2009 Jasmine rated it really liked it
Shelves: american
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
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
Jun 17, 2012 Jennifer rated it liked it
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
Nov 28, 2009 Sunil rated it really liked it
"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
Jul 28, 2013 Paul rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 28, 2014 Daniel Simmons rated it liked it
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
Jun 10, 2015 Dovilė rated it liked it
Feb 08, 2008 Leslie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: psychology
I love this book and I love Yalom
Dec 11, 2015 Benan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Varoluş sancılarını ve bu sancıların giderilmesi çabasında izlenen yaklaşımları her zamanki gibi akıcı ve sürükleyici bir dil ile anlatan nefis bir Yalom kitabı. Ancak diğer kitaplarından farklı olarak yazar bu kitabında psikoterapi sürecinin karşı aktarım meselesine özellikle odaklanmış gibi. Dürüstçe söylemek isterim ki, yazar karşı aktarımlarını paylaşırken, ilk defa, bunun bir kurgu olabileceği şüphesine kapıldım. Hatta yazarın zaman zaman sinirime dokunan kibirli ve yargılayıcı bazı tavırla ...more
Sunt patru lucruri care definesc condiția umană, spune Yalom, care sunt și bazele terapiei sale așa numit existențialiste: inevitabilitatea morții pentru noi și pentru cei pe care-i iubim, libertatea de a ne face viața așa cum dorim opusă neputinței sau responsabilității, lipsa unui sens evident al vieții și singurătatea noastră esențială. În Călăul dragostei (Love’s Executioner în original), Irvin Yalom, reputat psihoterapeut și scriitor, profesor la Stanford, spune poveștile a zece pacienți, z ...more
Benjamin Petrovic
May 24, 2015 Benjamin Petrovic rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
As a psychology student with plenty of knowledge about mental health but zero experience with what actually happens in real life therapy, this book was incredibly interesting and helpful for me.

Yalom is refreshingly honest about his own thoughts and experiences in therapy, openly admitting to instances where he made wrong decisions and sharing his darker thoughts - thoughts that one would expect highly trained psychologists to be above as they operate in their supernatural realm free of judgeme
Apr 19, 2009 Chloé rated it it was amazing
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
Sally McRogerson
Jul 31, 2011 Sally McRogerson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
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 really liked it
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 it was amazing
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
Ausra Susinskaite
May 15, 2016 Ausra Susinskaite rated it really liked it
Thank you I. D. Yalon for being brutally honest revealing his own feelings and struggles as a therapist. Readers who are outraged by his objectivity really don't see the elegance in therapeutical genius.
Türkiye'de popüler olduğu 90 sonlarından bu yana hemen her kitabını okumaya çalışan, sabık bir Yalom okuyucusu olduğumu söyleyebilirim. Bu kitabın ilk baskısını da tahminen 1990’ların sonlarında almış, hatta okuyup bitirmeme az kala şehirlerarası bir otobüste unutmak suretiyle kaybetmiştim. Yıllar sonra kitaplığımın Yalom rafına iade ettiğim Aşkın Celladı'nı tekrar okumak, muhtemelen o yıllarda tecrübe etmemin mümkün olmadığı, psikanalize bakışımı dönüştüren bir deneyim armağan ettiği bana.

Jul 30, 2014 Anna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Io Nuca
Sep 02, 2014 Io Nuca rated it liked it
Shelves: 2014
Îmi plac mult poveștile despre ședințe de psihoterapie, dar de data asta m-a cam enervat rețeta la care a apelat Yalom: la început nu-și suportă pacientul, pacientul nu este deschis spre terapie, încetul cu încetul se apropie unul de altul, iar la final descoperă ce mult îi place de fapt de pacientul respectiv. Biiiiig sigh....

Dar cazurile sunt interesante și mereu am ceva de învățat din cărțile de genul ăsta, chiar dacă uneori mă forțez să le termin.
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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.
More about Irvin D. Yalom...

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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?” 140 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.” 59 likes
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