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The Incurable Romantic and Other Unsettling Revelations

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  919 ratings  ·  125 reviews
Love is a great leveller. Everyone wants love, everyone falls in love, everyone loses love, and everyone knows something of love's madness. But the experience of obsessive love is no trivial matter. In the course of his career psychologist Dr Frank Tallis has treated many unusual patients, whose stories have lessons for all of us.

A barristers' clerk becomes convinced that
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published June 6th 2018 by Little, Brown
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Paul Bryant
Oct 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: godreads
The first chapter tells the story of Megan, a middle-aged barristers’ clerk, and her one way love affair with her dentist Dr Verma, and it suddenly smashed into my brain that this was a perfect metaphor of how monotheistic religion works.

Megan visits a new dentist who performs a complicated extraction. During these visits Megan falls in love with Dr Verma and at the same time believes he has fallen in love with her. This is monotheism – the believer does not simply believe in God (that doesn't
Jun 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Books centred around clinical cases are polarising for me. I either love them or hate them. When done well, they feed my desire for narrative and redemption in real life. When done poorly, they just remind me that medicine is mainly messy and unrewarding, time spent following Voltaire's advice to 'amuse the patient while nature takes its course'.

I'm not sure which side of the equation this book falls on, for the simple reason that Tallis brings up what is apparently his central 'argument' only
The premise of this book was intriguing, but it failed to live up to its promise. From the beginning, I found myself rolling my eyes at the writing. There were huge amounts of irrelevant or pointless information: extensive detail about patients' appearance, an explanation of how doctors dictate referrals and how they are then processed and by whom, flowery prose, the use of full names to refer to an individual (dozens of times, over the course of a few pages), lengthy discussion of the history o ...more
Jul 10, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

“What is life if it isn’t about love? Finding love, being loved and loving others? Yet, love is something we rarely engage with intellectually. We all experience falling in love but take little or no interest in how it works.”

Frank Tallis, a British clinical psychologist, takes upon himself the onerous task of discovering how love works when madness and/or desire take over. Dr. Tallis looks at this topic from all angles – from inappropriate attachment to love addiction, from obsessive jealousy t
Someone, anyone could probably successfully argue this book is not about love. It’s about mental illness. It’s about obsessions and addictions and delusions and narcissism. Fortunately, our tour guide through those loveless states, Dr. Frank Tallis, a clinical psychologist, appears to be a compassionate and sane man, unlike some other psychologists who write books. This is his second book on the topic, too; the first being Love Sick: Love as a Mental Illness; so he is well acquainted with the ma ...more
Jul 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arcs-tysm
You can also find this review on my book blog.

It’s no secret that I enjoy reading psychology non-fiction books and that I’m interested in Psychology. Tallis’ book intrigued me because of the subject matter it deals with – love, to be precise: obsessive love. I rarely read and find books on this subject so I was glad I stumbled upon it.

While reading this book I wrote notes on the first half of the book because many chapters were interesting and contained a lot of information I found useful. T
Nikki "The Crazie Betty" V.
I love psychology, so when I saw this book on Netgalley I knew it was a match made in heaven. I’ve never been a “romantic” myself, so I was curious what psychological issues would arise from the research into romance and love. Boy did this book deliver. The book details personal experiences of the author and psychologist, with patients he has had over the years with myriad different mental and psychology disorders related to romance, love and attraction.

We hear about a woman who wakes up from a
Oct 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
**3.5 stars rounded up.**

I really enjoyed this collection of case studies on the intricacies and impacts on love on a person's mental health (and vice versa). The author's writing style lends itself well to conveying the details to the reader; the language he uses is never over the top clinical, but it doesn't feel like he's dumbing things down for the reader either.

I've read other books by psychologists and doctors where the tone is so superior that it really took me out of the book, despite t
Aug 04, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle, 2018
Disclaimer: A copy was provided by NetGalley for an honest review

I am a little upset that I didn't like this book. Technically, it has everything I usually like: talks about real people, has some history of mental health, has other interesting things thrown here and there. All of that should have solidify a good rating from me. But it didn't...I didn't like the writing and couldn't connect with it at all. Half the time I felt like the author was making fun of people he was supposed to be helpin
Akaash Kumar
Jul 25, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“All mature adults must accept that they are essentially unknowable—and that they will never know the one they love...The real metric by which we can gauge the authenticity of love is not how close we want to be, how merged and intermingled, but how far we can stand apart and still be together”

Full of consolations, reflections, and thought-provoking statements like this; Dr Tallis explores the intersect between love and mental illness. The truth is, a great number of internationally-recognised m
Oct 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I went into this expecting a few amusing stories, but was very pleased to discover instead fairly in-depth explorations of 12 different psychological cases, some unusual and some a bit more common. From a woman convinced that her dentist is deeply in love with her to a man who has visited thousands of prostitutes over the course of a few months, every case presents something utterly foreign and fascinating - and Frank Tallis manages to present each story with understanding, empathy, and reflecti ...more
This non-fiction has the right balance of psychological / psychiatric theories, actual case studies, the perceptions of the treating doctor, and a well-written story-book style prose. It will put you in a reflective mood, against your better judgement!

Thanks to the publisher for the ARC. Loved it. And all the best to the doctor peering out the window at a stale surrounding.
Nick Davies
Jan 20, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020
Some very interesting aspects of love were discussed here, from the point of view of a psychiatrist experienced in dealing with patients struggling with the nature of the beast. A number of chapters were very interesting indeed - particularly the earlier chapters about De Clérambault's syndrome, bereavement, and paranoid distrust of ones partner - but some of the cases in the second half of the book seemed less compelling reading. I found too that at times the author's anecdotal style moved from ...more
Lara K
Jul 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In ' The Incurable Romantic' , Frank Tallis presents us with a thought provoking portrait of love, it's idiosyncrasies, contradictions and perversities.The book is segmented into chapters, each delving into an aspect of love. Tallis, a clinical psychologist and psychotherapist, primarily uses his own clinical case studies to seduce us to follow him down a meandering path of psychological research, philosophy, art and literature, all in the name of this strange thing called love. And follow I did ...more
Jul 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: making-me-think
"The only normal people are the ones you don't know very well".

Fascinating selection of case histories from Tallis, a Clinical Psychologist who is also a very good writer - he can certainly tell an excellent tale!
The case histories described are about the 'madness' of love and I was struck several times by how so called 'normal' behaviour can be just a whisper away from something far more sinister.

I found the chapter describing a middle aged woman 'suffering' (and I don't use that word lightly)
Jul 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
The book does a good job of balancing clinical cases of his interactions with patients with some historical scientific context in between which made for an easy read without overwhelming jargon and ensuring you’re still engaged!

The cases he presents are very interesting and it showed the troubles psychiatrists have in dealing with patients and just how labouring and intricate this job really is, despite the old jokes other medical professionals still have on this line of work. As a medical stude
I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley. Thank you! All opinions are my own.

The Incurable Romantic tells the stories of patients whose love/desire/obsession has become problematic for them (and often others). This is mostly a sympathetic collection of tales of mental illness related to romantic and/or sexual feelings (not love), but it leaves you thinking when love actually crosses the line to madness. I think there is no easy answer.

Overall quite an interesting read, I'm intrigued.
Jul 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Enjoyable reading. And I learnt a few new words.
Jeff Wong
May 31, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an interesting book -- several different stories based on patients that the author has cared for throughout the years with different aspects of "love sickness". It's a nice analysis of the ways psychologically that people form attachments to other people; and when those attachments are not healthy what can happen to the parties involved. For anyone who has every been in love or had a crush on someone, there will be aspects of this book that will resonate with your experience. It is not a ...more
Jan 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars
Joanna Halpin
Beware the psychotherapist who actually uses the term 'leggy blonde' to describe a patient. Cringe. Read Love's Executioner instead. ...more
Lisa Beaulieu
Nov 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Fascinating and reads like a novel. I only grabbed this because I was in a hurry at the library, I had my dog in the car, if I had looked more closely, I would have bypassed it. Thank you, Bart, good boy! I got a bit squeamish here and there with the TMI, but he is a therapist, so what can I expect.
Aug 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rating: 4.5/5.

In this collection of essays, Tallis does an excellent job of interspersing personal and patient stories with a history of psychology and essays on human emotions and delusions around the fringes of romantic love. Clearly inspired by Sacks but surpassing him both in the quality of his prose and in his ability to dissect even the hardest topics –from violent jealousy to pedophilia—with compassion and respect. Looking forward to reading more from Mr. Tallis.

“With the bith of my secon
Sep 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: amazon-reviewed
The Incurable Romantic and Other Tales of Madness & Desire by Frank Tallis is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in early September.

Twelve short stories of re-adapted psychotherapy sessions that are in some way related to love (i.e. unreciprocation, jealousy, becoming a widow/widower, sexual addiction/predilections). The perspective of the therapist/counselor is exceptionally insightful and well-versed; so much so that thee song ‘Accidentally Like A Martyr’ comes to mind.
TammyJo Eckhart
Oct 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Madness and Desire" seemed like a good subtitle for a book to read in October and while I found the recollections of psychologist Frank Tallis to be horror in the sense of everyday life they aren't horror as we expect in fiction. In their own ways, I found each of his patients to be terrifying because in most cases I could empathize if not fully understand. Each of them suffered because of something that might be called "desire" or "love" or "lust" to a level that either they felt it was a prob ...more
Jun 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Now then.
I hate reading about the brain because it's the brain and the brain always makes me think about my brain. It's like looking at the world turn, or staring into the infinite blackness of blah blah blah.
This guy fucking LOVES a good hyphen -- seriously -- he can't get enough.
Not even sure they were employed correctly half the time -- whatever, it doesn't matter if he used them as liberally as e-numbers in 90's sweets, this book was as addictive as 90's sweets.
Melanie Elisa
Jun 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am a therapist and will take a good few things away from this book, both professionally and personally. It is, however, written for just about anyone interested in understanding romantic relationships, without being dry or jagon-y, highly philosophical or scientific.
Particularly, it deals with how we can sometimes get "stuck" on people or relationships, either unable to move on, or why we sometimes can't leave behind feelings that are just not reciprocated. Tallis uses real life cases of his
Nicki Markus
Jul 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-non-fiction
Although I have never studied it in a classroom, I have long been interested in psychology and theories of personality, and have done some reading on the topic. Therefore, The Incurable Romantic appealed to me as soon as I saw it on NetGalley. It was certainly an intriguing read. I enjoyed how the case studies each presented a very different take on the psychology behind love, and these were nicely balanced with Tallis' recollections and anecdotes. This is a book that can be easily read by laype ...more
Seymour Glass
Aug 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm such a whore for psychological case studies, so naturally I loved this. I like how he didn't feel the need to wrap up each story neatly in a bow. Life and love and the human mind are all messy and a constant work-in-progress so I never really buy into accounts that end with happily ever after. He emphasises management of conditions rather than cure, and I find this a much more realistic approach. ...more
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Aka F.R. Tallis.

Dr. Frank Tallis is a writer and clinical psychologist. He has held lecturing posts in clinical psychology and neuroscience at the Institute of Psychiatry and King's College, London. He has written self help manuals (How to Stop Worrying, Understanding Obsessions and Compulsions) non-fiction for the general reader (Changing Minds, Hidden Minds, Love Sick), academic text books and o

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These twelve books are so consistently adored, they have become regulars month after month in our data of most popular and most read books on...
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“All mature adults must accept that they are essentially unknowable--and that they will never know the one they love.” 1 likes
“All mature adults must accept that they are essentially unknowable--and that they will never know the one they love. Even when we kiss there is distance; it is a distance that cannot be bridged by romantic love and must be respected if a relationship is to succeed. The real metric by which we can gauge the authenticity of love is not how close we want to be, how merged and intermingled, but how far we can stand apart and still be together.” 1 likes
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