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Love's Executioner Paperback – 4 Apr 2013

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (4 April 2013)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 014197544X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141975443
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.7 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,113 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Dr Irvin Yalom is Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry at Stanford University. He has won two major awards from the American Psychiatric Association. He continues to run his clinical practice and lectures widely.

Product Description


Dr Yalom demonstrates once again that in the right hands, the stuff of therapy has the interest of the richest and most inventive fiction (Eva Hoffman New York Times)

These remarkably moving and instructive tales of the psychiatric encounter bring the reader into novel territories of the mind - and the landscape is truly unforgettable (Maggie Scarf)

Love's Executioner is one of those rare books that suggests both the mystery and the poetry of the psychotherapeutic process. The best therapists are at least partly poets. With this riveting and beautifully written book, Irvin Yalom has joined their ranks (Erica Jong)

Inspired ... He writes with the narrative wit of O. Henry and the earthy humor of Isaac Bashevis Singer (San Francisco Chronicle)

Dr Yalom offers a valuable insight into the delicate process of therapy (Sunday Telegraph)

Irvin Yalom writes like an angel about the devils that besiege us (Rollo May)

These stories are wonderful. They make us realize that within every human being lie the pain and the beauty that make life worthwhile (Bernie S. Siegel)

Dr Yalom is unusually honest, both with his patients and about himself (Anthony Storr)

Yalom is a gifted storyteller, and from the sound of these tales, a no-less-gifted psychotherapist (Los Angeles Times)

This is an impressive transformation of clinical experience into literature. Dr Yalom's case histories are more gripping than 98 percent of the fiction published today, and he has gone to amazing lengths of honesty to depict himself as a realistic flesh-and-blood character: funny, flawed, perverse, and, above all, understanding (Phillip Lopate)

I loved Love's Executioner. Dr Yalom has learned something that fiction writers learned years ago - that people's mistakes are a lot more interesting than their triumphs (Joanne Greenberg)

About the Author

Irvin D. Yalom is Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry at the Stanford University School of Medicine. As well as an award-winning psychiatrist and psychotherapist, he is an extremely prolific author. His many other works include The Gift of Therapy, Staring at the Sun, When Nietzsche Wept, The Theory and Practice of Group Psychiatry, The Schopenhauer Cure, Lying on the Couch, Momma and the Meaning of Life, Existential Psychotherapy, I'm Calling the Police, Inpatient Group Psychotherapy, Every Day Gets a Little Closer and The Spinoza Problem.

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Lady Fancifull TOP 500 REVIEWER on 24 May 2013
Format: Paperback
I value Irvin D. Yalom's books on his psychotherapy work hugely, because the weight of his arguments go far outside the field of psychotherapy, and explore what the beingness of human entails. Much of what he explores in the one-to-one sessions can be translated into the relationship each of us has, firstly, with ourselves, and secondly, with 'the other'. This to me is the fascination of the existential approach : how we deal with these givens: isolation, meaninglessness, mortality and freedom.

These are not just problems for those society might perceive of as 'unwell' and needing help - they are the bedrock of being a self-conscious embodied being, and flow, like a deep river, more or less acknowledged and observed, through our day to day moment to moment lives

The wonderful and shocking title of the book refers to the role of therapy in helping us to see clear and live outside denial - the denial of the challenges of those four givens. The psychotherapist is here cast as the executioner of illusion - not of love itself, but the giddy, distorting, exhilarating, wondrous 'being in love' state. We all crave and enjoy this - but it is an illusory state, a kind of unreal, seductive, beautiful madness; it is intoxication, and is possibly the most potent of intoxicants. The broken illusions and despairs of the Western Romantic Tradition bring many into therapy.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Graham Mummery TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 4 May 2014
Format: Paperback
Freud's case studies have become famous not least because they are well written. There have also been arguments that they are largely fiction. Yet case studies often are fictionalised because there is a need to protect patient confidentiality. In the early pages of this book, Irvin D Yalom, explains this, suggesting nobody would guess the true identity of the patients stories he tells, with their permission.

In the first chapter, Yalom explains his own theoretical bent which is existentialist, stating:

"I focus on what is going at the moment between a patient and me rather than on the events of his or her past."

He has explored the fuller theoretical implications of this kind of therapy in more detail for therapists in his larger volume Existential Psychotherapy. But the chapter here gives a good brief account of this, which will suffice for most people. This is followed by the ten cases described.

Yalom is an excellent, literate, and, at times, even exuberant writer. There is an honesty which reveals itself in his descriptions of patients, which are not always flattering. In one, for example, he mentions he has a prejudice against fat women, and his description fully unravels the extent of it though at the end he does come to like the patient he has taken on. All through he examines his own feelings and what they might tell him about the patient in front of him, something a therapist often has to do. In this we get an excellent picture of what it is to be a therapist.

The details of patient symptoms are described, and make for fascinating reading rather like Oliver Sachs' neurological portraits.
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Format: Paperback
As is often remarked, not the least of Freud's gifts is that of master storyteller, a lesser mantle now descends on Yalom, with this cornucopia of tales from the couch. I enjoyed them as stories immensely, they are well written, the analyses yield many of the satisfactions of the good detective story and it is an easy, rewarding read. Yes I know this is presented as Fiction but I fear that too many readers see this as a matter of necessary disguise case histories require in order to protect identities. I think that this is not the whole story, literally.
Now, many years after first reading this interesting book, I feel some of the misgivings I do to the Master: I wonder at the shaping of cases into stories and with the cautionary tales that we now know, say, Anna O. and The Rat Man to have been. That is, cautionary in that the shaping may have been "quite half the work" as Henry James said of his tales. So DO bring a pinch of salt; these are not by any means 'pure records' as a naïve view might suppose. I fear that the more fulsome reviews of this book do not appreciate this and incautiously respond to the tales' narrative power. My own thought it that life's not quite like that, (or not often).
I should add that Rosemary Dinnage's book of the same territory is superior. It seems more unvarnished, somewhat less literary and perhaps less sentimental. You can take your cue, as I do, from the too-literary flavour of the title: the first jarring note is the revealingly flashy, actually silly title, hence this review's one. "Don't, Irving!", I think!. Very interesting though not entirely to be trusted as fact, or tweaked fact.
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