Monday, August 26, 2013

Loves Executioner

Loves Executioner and Other Tales of Psychotherapy  by Irvin D. Yalom, M.D.
Weight: 8 oz
Method of Disposal: Donating

When I first read the prologue to this book I was horrified by some of the things the author said.  The number one thing that sticks out in my mind was when he wrote about being repulsed by a fat woman who was his patient and was not sure he could offer her therapy.  I immediately closed the book and called my mom, who I assumed had read it and possibly passed it on to me.  She encouraged me to keep reading it and told me it would all be worth it.  I did, and I am glad I did.

I valued the author's insight into death and human reactions to death.  It is something I think about far more often than I would like to.  He mentions that death anxiety is often at its greatest when someone does not feel they are living the life they should be.  Amen to that.  I have noticed it.

He also writes about various patients he had, his hang-ups, and how he learned a lot about himself and his style of psychotherapy through working with them.  Some of the people he had the most difficult times with taught him the most, and often he became very close to them by the time their sessions were up.  I have to say, I would still hate to read about myself in one of his books!  It would be horrifying and embarrassing to me, even if my case was useful to him and to those who might learn from this book.  I go back to that fat woman.  Even reading it myself gave me anxieties about my weight and what professionals may be thinking about my body, much less what they might publish later.  He does come around with her, and she does (thank god) call him out by acknowledging how he treated her in the early sessions before she lost weight.  He does have an attitude adjustment while working with her, and her life does seem greatly improved by the end of the chapter.

There is a lot packed into this book, and it is insightful for a variety of reasons.  It is not without its problems, but I appreciate the author being able to lay himself out there in all of his glory, fuck-ups, strengths, and weaknesses.  I do believe I would recommend it to others, even 23 years after this edition was published.

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