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When Nietzsche Wept: A Novel of Obsession (Perennial Classics) [Paperback]

Irvin D. Yalom
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)

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Paperback, 1 Jan 2005 --  

Product details

  • Paperback: 310 pages
  • Publisher: Us Imports; Reissue edition (1 Jan 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060748125
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060748128
  • Product Dimensions: 20.7 x 13.4 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 353,488 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


A blend of fact and fiction played out against the intellectual ferment of 19th-century Vienna on the eve of the birth of psychoanalysis. The story begins when the eminent physician Josef Breuer is asked by Lou Salome to treat Friedrich Nietzsche's suicidal despair at the end of their love affair. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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The chimes of San Salvatore broke into Josef Breuer's reverie. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
83 of 87 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An extraordinary read 23 Sep 2004
Dr Yalom's novel is set in Vienna at the end of the 19th century, on the eve of the birth of psychoanalysis. The main characters are the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, Dr Joseph Bauer, one of the founders of psychoanalysis, and a then young (the year is 1882) medical intern called Sigmund Freud. As these protagonists discuss their ideas, preoccupations and frustrations, they create an original plot of a fictional relationship between an exceptional analysand and a talented analyst. As the fictional dialogue between Breuer and Nietzsche unfolds, the reader becomes aware of the fact that at this epoch it must have been the first time that a doctor realised that what mattered is not what a patient said but that he said it. These were truly the first steps towards psychotherapy. Breuer's task was not made easy by Nietzsche's character. His social fears and his misanthropy made him select an impersonal and distant style. His tone was often harsh and brittle, particularly when he talked about his deceptive lover, Lou Salomé, a woman Nietzsche actually met in the spring of 1882. The unpleasant experience he had with this one and only love affair made him resentful towards women. He felt that they corrupted and spoiled him, he avoided them because he thought that he was ill suited for them. This partly explains Nietzsche's total isolation, his feeling of belonging nowhere, having no lover, no circle of friends, no home, no family hearth, his life sounding like a hollow echo.
A wonderful achievement showing sad and troubled characters in an intriguing cross-discussion of philosophy and emerging psychotherapy, yet as gripping to read as a detective story.
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103 of 110 people found the following review helpful
This is one of the most intellectually stimulating, personally relevant, important books I have ever read. What a rare treat Yalom has given the world. That being said, this book may not be for everyone (but what is?). In many ways, I feel as if this novel was written just for me, and I feel sure that many other readers likewise come away feeling the book was written especially for them. Do you have to know Nietzsche in order to enjoy this book? You do not, but it will certainly appeal to you more if you do. I approached this book purely as a Nietzsche admirer, and I worried that my favorite philosopher might be portrayed poorly or unacceptably in its pages. In fact, he was not. No one can say whether this fictional treatment of Nietzsche is a true depiction of this great man, but it really does not matter. The importance of this book comes not through the descriptions of its characters, but from the meaning you as an individual take from its themes. These themes are grand and universal, the themes that Nietzsche addressed in his factual life--the meaning of life, fear of aging and death, each person's place in society, and both aloneness and loneliness. Everyone knows these themes, the emotions they stir up, the doubts they employ as daily hurdles on the living of one's life, the truly cosmic loneliness that each individual knows and combats at some point or points in his/her life. Not everyone can face these challenges or even acknowledge them; those who cannot will do well to stay away from this book.
What a joy it is to read a truly intellectually challenging work in these modern times. Don't read this book to be entertained. Read this book to seek understanding of life and your place in it. I cannot stress enough how personal the message of this book seems to be.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An interesting book that shouldn't be missed 27 May 2014
By Denis Vukosav TOP 50 REVIEWER
"When Nietzsche Wept" by Irvin D. Yalom is an interesting book that plays with the fact that the famous doctor Josef Breuer from Vienna and the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche lived at the same time and by the author they are combined in an unusual way of putting them in the patient-physician relationship.

Besides the two of them, the third main character is Lou Andreas-Salomé, who combined both their professions, since in her tumultuous life except literature she dealt with psychoanalysis.

The author, an American psychiatrist Irvin D. Yalom , wrote an interesting book which not only speaks about this unusual meeting of two famous people (who never actually happened), but also provides a clear image of the time and society in which the action is happening, Europe in late 19th century.

The plot of the book is located in Vienna, where Friedrich Nietzsche is living, suffering from depression and suicidal thinking, in part due to his relationship with Lou Andreas-Salomé, which is anything but ordinary.
Salomé is a person who isn't burdened with conventions and therefore was in a relationship with many known and unknown people of that time, such as the poet Rainer Maria Rilke and psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud.

Therefore Nietzsche will start confiding to Breuer, and doctor would advise him to try himself solving his obsessions related to Salomé, actually hoping that conversation itself would be helpful for the philosopher enabling him to get better.
Gradually, as the action will progress slowly, clearly defined roles of patient and doctor will start slowly disappearing, gradually blending into each other and no longer is clear who is who and in which role...
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A very special read!
I have to join all the readers who already gave a very positive review of this book. It is a special read, very intelligent written. Read more
Published 7 days ago by Nini
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book and arrived as expected.
Excellent book and arrived as expected. Anyone who is interested in therapy and particularly in existential issues would enjoy this book.
Published 5 months ago by Alison
5.0 out of 5 stars fantastic!!!
Brilliant insight by Irvin yalom into the early days of talking therapies. who wouldn't love a patient like Nietzsche in their psychotherapy pratice???
Published 11 months ago by neillspain
4.0 out of 5 stars A well researched novel of time, place, history and talk therapy
What if Josef Breuer, one of the early exponents of talk therapy (or psychoanalysis) was able to engage with Friederich Nietzsche? Read more
Published 13 months ago by "Belgo Geordie"
5.0 out of 5 stars I have read this book and bought it for a friend.
Highly recommended book. One of the best I have ever read. Deep and very thought provoking. I recommend it to anyone who is soul searching.
Published 17 months ago by Ungood
4.0 out of 5 stars The Mind;
This is a very interesting book,, well woth reading, Gives a great deal of thought regarding deep discussion of problems, between people and how benificial it can be to... Read more
Published 19 months ago by B. W. Foy
5.0 out of 5 stars Must read before u die!
It was one of the most inspiring book I have ever read! It is a journey to your sub-conscious... M
Published 23 months ago by ozey
5.0 out of 5 stars Therapeutic Cat and Mouse
How might psychotherapy have started? Certainly protagonist Josef Breuer has been overshadowed by Freud in popular consciousness (excuse the pun). Read more
Published on 7 Aug 2012 by Amazon Customer
1.0 out of 5 stars Boring
I wasn't able to finish this novel being overwhelmed by boredom.
I am a psychiatrist myself and do prefer my colleagues when they do their job, less when they try to do other... Read more
Published on 14 Feb 2012 by Ennio Piantato
5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant!
yalom is an amazing psychotherapist, and a brilliant writer. if you interested in existentialism, the mind, and the human condition... Read more
Published on 3 Nov 2011 by eugenia gajardo
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