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Love's Executioner and Other Tales of Psychotherapy

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  22,920 ratings  ·  966 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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Matt its beautiful... i recommend it, definitely... it helped me through a break up...
Stuart North I think you might be confusing this book (which is brilliant by the way) with: 'The Mummy at the Dining Room Table: Eminent Therapists Reveal Their…moreI think you might be confusing this book (which is brilliant by the way) with: 'The Mummy at the Dining Room Table: Eminent Therapists Reveal Their Most Unusual Cases and What They Teach Us About Human Behavior' by Jeff Kottler, which is also an excellent book about psychotherapy, and includes the case description you are thinking about near the beginning. Best, S.(less)

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Greta
Psychiatrist Dr. Irvin D. Yalom is married to a feminist scholar, which is highly surprising considering the fact that he regards women in a very sexualized and demeaning way.
Unless they were attractive women, he displayed a worrying degree of contempt towards his patients. He seemed to have one derogatory thought after another about them.
In the story The Fat Lady he even admits that his contempt for fat ladies surpassed all cultural norms. But the fat lady, Betty, offered him an opportunity
...more
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 ...more
Nat
Nov 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had originally started Irvin D. Yalom's newest release Becoming Myself, where he mentioned this collection of stories which sounded more fitting because my attention span was slight at the time.

Love's Executioner and Other Tales of Psychotherapy offers a keen insight on ten patients, from all walks of life, who turned to therapy, all ten were suffering the common problems of everyday life: loneliness, self-contempt, impotence, migraine headaches, sexual compulsivity, obesity, hypertension,
...more
Chris Coffman
Jul 21, 2007 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
...more
Tracy Sherman
Feb 28, 2014 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
...more
Thomas
Jun 09, 2014 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
...more
April
Feb 23, 2008 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
...more
Steven Doyle
A more fitting title would be 'How counter-transference, insidious prejudice and sexism destroys the therapeutic process'. The man's a creep and from what I can tell in these vignettes a poor to average psychotherapist. Though, I can see how one could become seduced by his writings and spurious analysis to believe there is some insights to be gleamed from this book.
Cassian
Aug 04, 2011 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.
Jennie
Jan 08, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: psychology
Ugh, I am so disappointed. I very, very badly wanted to love this book. Staring at the Sun was revolutionary, and The Gift of Therapy unequivocally changed who I am as a mental health professional.

One of Yalom's greatest assets is that he has always been very open about his flaws, judgments, and humanness. But in this book, he reveals that he has many flaws and more judgments than most people I know. I started reading (well, listening, actually - I did this one on audiobook and managed to
...more
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
...more
Maxime
Jun 21, 2012 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
Shannon
Sep 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Love's Executioner is a wonderful collection of psychotherapy tales of master psychiatrist Irvin Yalom. Although the book does have a sort of instructional focus, I believe anyone could enjoy the content. Yalom describes treating patients with a multitude of symptoms and presentations, and his intelligent and thoughtful approach to them all. Even though his theory of choice doesn't align with my own, I really do have to awe at and truly appreciate the true mastery of the therapeutic process. I ...more
Emily
Apr 28, 2010 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 ...more
Benjamin Petrovic
Jan 10, 2015 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
...more
D'Argo Agathon
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
...more
Jack M
Feb 16, 2018 rated it did not like it
Turns out it's no fun reading about peoples mental afflictions or a creepy psychoanalyst therapy session. Here's what you'll get in every chapter: The author introducing a patient, then berating them (with the exception of if they are a 'sexy' attractive women - then author will muse if he is helping the patient out of the goodness of his heart or because the patient is a sexy woman). God help you if you're a fat woman, Mr. Yalom is absolutely sickened by this filth. You'll hear the patient ...more
Fereshteh
nothing / just read it when you are alone and nobody cannot listen to you. in different situation you can imagine " mayde it happened for me or my family....
Jennifer
Jun 17, 2012 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 ...more
Zoë Freeman
May 22, 2019 rated it did not like it
For nigh on 10 years now I have been an avid reader of books relating to case studies in psychology, psychotherapy, and psychiatry. Starting with Phantoms in the Brain by V. S. Ramachandran all the way to The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk, reading about the diverse mental states that humans can experience has been an extremely enriching and enjoyable pastime. This pastime took an abrupt turn with this book - a personal account from a psychotherapist's perspective on how specific ...more
Jasmine
Apr 27, 2008 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
...more
Michelle Boucher
Apr 03, 2018 rated it did not like it
Oh man. Did I hate this book. Yalom is a turd. I really tried. I really did, but I cannot. We're meant to appreciate his honesty and study his counter-transference, but I'm telling you right now. Any other therapist could have written a brutally honest account of their work, and not come off as such a whiny, self-aggrandizing putz. All Yalom does is piss and moan that he's bored in sessions because his client is ugly, or a fatty, or whatever else is not the height of entertainment for him. Then ...more
Kelly
Nov 01, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: education, dnf
I could get long winded here (in fact my colleagues and I half joked about writing a response to this book called Yaloms Executioner in which we deconstruct everything wrong with it) but I wont. Instead Ill just say that Yalom, while a phenomenal writer, is a despicable and morally repugnant person. As a counselor I felt repulsed by how he described his clients. His hubris and inability to check his privilege made this incredibly difficult to read. In fact, I stopped reading it halfway through ...more
Marta :}
Jan 21, 2016 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
...more
Meg Bee
I really, really do not like this guy. He used racial slurs completely casually for one thing, and he is so judgemental of his patients' physical appearance, it's difficult to take him seriously. He can't muster empathy for a woman because she's obese? Really? Not until she becomes "interesting" to him as a patient. If there's one thing I've taken from this, it's that therapists are judgemental assholes too sometimes. In this guy's case, often. I can only imagine how it must feel to have been a ...more
Sarah Schorr
Jun 21, 2016 rated it it was ok
valuable insight into what it's really like to deal with your inner critic running while you're practicing therapy, but ultimately was really repulsed by Yalom himself.

he casts himself as the conquering hero of every story, he sexualizes all of his female clients, and is fatphobic to an incredible degree. even after re-reading and writing a new afterword decades later, he praises his younger self for his bravery and shows he learned exactly nothing about his incredibly problematic views of
...more
somecandytalking
Jan 23, 2017 rated it did not like it
This idiot has no empathy for his patients, how could he possibly be a good therapist? Yalom's therapeutic "insights" were boring and obvious and with every page, I lost more and more respect for him due to his self-centered and arrogant manner. My sympathies to the patients that had to endure this misogynist for months during treatment.
Katharine Holden
Nov 27, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
A truly foul book. I pity the patients who end up in the "care" of this hateful man.
Jennifer P
Jan 22, 2020 rated it it was ok
Compellingly written but weakened by the authors obvious contempt for some of his patients - namely older or overweight women. I couldnt bring myself to finish it. ...more
Mark Joyce
Jun 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Entertaining and uplifting, which is maybe not how you'd expect to summarise a book about existential loneliness, the inevitability of death and the often futile search for meaning in life. The individual cases are each quite extreme bordering on grotesque. However, the underlying themes are developed in a way that is compelling and relatable for those with less extravagantly manifested anxieties and neuroses. The book is probably open to criticism from an ethical point of view, whilst the ...more
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Goodreads Librari...: Update book first published date 2 13 Nov 04, 2016 10:03AM  
dilemma 1 15 Aug 22, 2016 06:12AM  

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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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