Sean Endymion's Reviews > Love's Executioner and Other Tales of Psychotherapy

Love's Executioner and Other Tales of Psychotherapy by Irvin D. Yalom
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's review
Mar 05, 11

it was amazing
bookshelves: psychology, all-time-awesome, non-fiction
Recommended to Sean by: Sarah Jane
Read on March 05, 2011

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 abstract for Dr. Yalom's belief that "existential psychotherapy" -- an operative stance where existential issues are the patient's core complications -- can be one of the most effective and multi-purposed tools in the psychiatrist's arsenal. Each case-study illustrates the mechanics -- and the spirit -- of this approach in fascinating detail.

One of the most interesting facets of this book is how candid Dr. Yalom is about his own feelings, biases, and reactions. The propositions that doctors are explicitly human, that therapy depends dramatically upon the manipulation of cause-and-effect, that the identity of the therapist is not (and cannot be) unaffected by the exchange, and that psychotherapy is, for the lack of a better phrase, significantly driven by trial and error, are all huge areas of discussion.

And what's more, when it comes to the individual stories themselves, there is no shortage of emotional impact. We really live these sessions along with patient and doctor, and each climax and culmination leaves the reader more in touch with their own reality. ("Therapeutic Monogamy," for instance, left me with tears.)

A radical and radiant piece of scientific, creative nonfiction. Definitely a 5 star read.
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Quotes Sean Liked

Irvin D. Yalom
“I think my quarry is illusion. I war against magic. I believe that, though illusion often cheers and comforts, it ultimately and invariably weakens and constricts the spirit.”
Irvin D. Yalom, Love's Executioner and Other Tales of Psychotherapy

Comments (showing 1-2)

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Sarah Jane Really glad that you enjoyed it so much. :)

message 1: by Liz (new) - rated it 5 stars

Liz Sean, well written review. I could not have done a better job.

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