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Existential Psychotherapy 1st Edition

41 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0465021475
ISBN-10: 0465021476
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"A classic for those studying existential psychotherapy and indeed for all clinicians." -- --Rollo MayA

"Should be read by every psychiatry resident and every clinical psychology intern. It belongs in the library of every psychotherapist." -- --H. Keith BrodieA

About the Author

Irvin D. Yalom, M.D., is professor emeritus of psychiatry at the Stanford University School of Medicine. He was the recipient of the 1974 Edward Strecker Award and the 1979 Foundation's Fund Prize in Psychiatry. He is the author of When Nietzche Wept (winner of the 1993 Commonwealth Club gold medal for fiction), Love's Executioner, Every Day Gets a Little Closer (with Ginny Elkin), and the classic textbooks Inpatient Group Psychotherapy and Existential Psychotherapy.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; 1 edition (December 8, 1980)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465021476
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465021475
  • Product Dimensions: 9.7 x 6.2 x 1.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #40,770 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Professor of Psychiatry at Stanford University. Author of nonfiction psychiatry texts, novels, and books of stories. Currently in private practice of psychiatry in Palo Alto and San Francisco, California.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

134 of 138 people found the following review helpful By Sophia Bezirganian on April 3, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a psychiatrist, I have yet to read a more illuminating book on how mental illnesses can develop, and how to help patients' to become free of them.
Existential Psychotherapy presents a theory of the existential forces that drive all human beings--knowledge of death, of our aloneness in the world, and of "meaninglessness" (the utter inconsequence of our one life in the entirety of the universe). It shows how these forces are powerful influences in shaping human mental health and illness.
Other reviewers here point out that the basic existential issues Yalom presents are well-known to academics and to many literate people who are exposed to them in that good, broad, liberal arts education we (still?) get in college. But what Yalom achieves in this book, has not to my knowledge been accomplished before (nor since): a presentation of these ideas to an audience of clinicians in a lucid, beautifully written, way that is salient to the daily practice of psychotherapy.
Yalom is a rare psychiatrist who is not only a master of the art of teaching and practicing psychiatry, but for this book, ventured into philosophy, literature, history, and sociology, and then integrated the wisdom each brings to the study of human nature, into a clear and cohesive whole, a beautifully written theory of the existential dimension of men's fears, drives, and actions, and how this dimension creates mental illness or health, depending on how each person handles it.
What is amazing is how such a book is now buried in the archives of (relative) obscurity, while others, recycling the same old tired ideas, reign on.
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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 15, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This book is a very enriching and expanding experience, not only for the person reading the book, but also for the people around the reader, as you simply can't help discussing the themes with friends and family. It is admirable how Yalom treats the subject without neither moral judgement nor dogmatic lecturing, opening a challenging universe, leaving it to the reader to find his or her own way through the chaos of life. Compulsory reading for anyone interested in psychology, philosophy or simply oneself and other human beings.
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32 of 35 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 22, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Quenches a thirst for understanding during a time of life that demands introspection. Yalom's writing style is easily understood, and his statements are backed up with examples to drive home his point. An excellent piece of work!
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 28, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Existential Psychotherapy is a convincing and moving reminder of the vagaries of life and the dignity with which we might respond to them. It's a hopeful exploration of death, separation, fantasies of rescue and regression, and the impossibility of transcending our earthly limitations.
Yalom writes with clarity and compassion. By reminding us of the timeless and undeniable, Yalom grounds us, gives us a foundation to begin building a more realistic version of our lives upon. Well done.
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41 of 50 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 25, 2001
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
within the space of a lifetime, ugly realities inevitably arise in both our outer and inner worlds. i have tended to accept this and assume there are not any answers, only more troubling truths. yalom's book explores this risky terrain with a brilliance and lucidity that i had not thought possible. i read this over two years ago, i have read it again in pieces many times since then. it would not be an exageration to say it has changed my life. i have often thought that god's secret instruction book has been revealed to the struggling human species and am grateful to live in a place and time that i could glimpse into the ummeasurable profound.
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39 of 48 people found the following review helpful By calmly on October 9, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Yalom follows Rollo May in making Existentialism accessible to American psychotherapists. The introduction clearly explains the need for doing so. Freudian-based therapy, Behavioral therapy, and the anti-intellectual forms of humanistic therapy, all have limitations in the areas that existential psychotherapy may shine at.

As he states in the Epilogue, Yalom regards "this existential paradigm as an early formulation..." that will "not only be useful to clinicians in its present form, but will stimulate the discourse necessary to modify and enrich it." What Yalom has done is to select four significant existentialist concerns (death, freedom, isolation and meaninglessness) and discuss them in the context of his experiences with clients, the writings of major Existentialists, and other therapies. In doing so, it may become clear what Existentialism has to offer to psychotherapy. Although this introductory work may be rich enough to, by itself, benefit clinicians, the interested reader can also then turn to the rich literature in Existentialism and existential psychotherapy, guided by Yalom's focus on death, freedom, isolation, and meaninglessness.

As a work of introduction, it seems understandable that, although he quotes Sarte, Yalom doesn't present Sartre's existential psychoanalysis, not even (it seems) Sartre's analysis of "bad faith" or Sartre's existential analysis of Jean Genet. Yalom said in the introduction that he did not intend to discuss existentialist philosophy much, but rather focus on what would be helpful for clinicians. Although Sartre's work in the area of existential psychoanalysis is ignored, as well as British psychiatrist R.D.
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