Tales of therapy are also tales of therapists, and Irvin D. Yalom--author of much bestselling psychiatric fiction and
nonfiction--is a seasoned storyteller. This new collection of "tales from the couch," part memoir and part fiction, is the work of a therapist unafraid to become deeply engaged with his patients; people, not pathology, are the stuff of Yalom's psychotherapy. Ego, doubt, and fantasy are rarely confined to the couch, and the doctor learns as much from his patients as they from him.
Here Yalom introduces us to Paula, whose losing fight against cancer teaches us that fear is only one of the many colors that brighten our dying; to Irene, a skilled surgeon whose dreams provide tantalizing clues for the psychological gumshoe intent on discovering the irrational terror behind her impressive intellect; to Magnolia, the earth mother whose inexplicable paralysis and imaginary infestations seemed her body's way of punishing her for aspirations aimed too high; and to Momma herself, half protector, half mythological monster, guardian at the gates of the psychotherapist's own unconscious. And, opening up the case files of the fictional Ernest Lash, Yalom reminds us that psychiatrists, too, are human. Like Oliver Sacks, Yalom spins the labyrinth threads of consciousness into the rich tapestry of something much grander. Therapy is not for the weak of heart, doctor or patient; in these pages, the journey toward healing and self-awareness reveals itself to be not about passivity, but courage. --Patrizia DiLucchio
From Publishers Weekly
Following the "tales from the clinic" formula that helped make his Love's Executioner a bestseller, psychiatrist Yalom reveals much more of himself this time around. He starts with a soul-baring account of his relationship with his mother, in Yalom's description a domineering woman who was intensely proud of her famous son. Their dance of mutual fear, control and deceit instilled patterns that took Yalom years to unlearn. Committed to egalitarian, mutually enriching relationships with his patients, Yalom tells of his grandiose fantasies of rescuing distressed damsels, as well as of his abiding need for a consoling mother figure. He found one such in Magnolia, a 70-year-old black woman working through her own feelings of childhood abandonment by her widowed mother. Another patient, Paula, a woman with terminal breast cancer, initially radiates an inner serenity but eventually unveils to Yalom her "anger rock," the symbolic repository of her pent-up rage and despair. We also meet Martin, an elderly, wheelchair-bound man whose exhausted caretaker son mocks his suicide attempt; Rosa, an 80-pound anorexic who is fed intravenously; Irene, an imperious surgeon who agonizes over her husband's terminal illness; and Linda, a furious divorc?e whose privacy was abusively violated as a girl by her father. Yalom's therapeutic encounters, as recorded here, are often painful crucibles of personal transformation, in which people grow in unexpected ways by releasing reservoirs of guilt, fear, sadness, anger and denial. Author tour. (Sept.)
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