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The Schopenhauer Cure: A Novel Hardcover – Deckle Edge, January 4, 2005

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; First Edition edition (January 4, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0066214416
  • ISBN-13: 978-0066214412
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (122 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #585,905 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Having taken on the origins of psychotherapy in the popular When Nietzsche Wept, psychiatrist-novelist Yalom now turns to group therapy and the thinker sometimes known as the "philosopher of pessimism," in this meticulous, occasionally slow-moving book. Julius Hertzfeld, a successful therapist in San Francisco, is shocked by the news that he suffers from terminal cancer. Moved to reassess his life's work, he contacts Philip Slate, whose three years of therapy for sexual addiction Julius describes as an "old-time major-league failure." Philip is now training to be a therapist himself, guided by the writings of Arthur Schopenhauer, and he offers to teach Julius about Schopenhauer as a way of helping him deal with his looming death. Julius and Philip strike a deal: Julius will serve as Philip's clinical supervisor, but only if Philip joins the ongoing therapy group Julius leads. To complicate matters further, Pam, a group member, is one of the hundreds of women Philip seduced and then rejected. Yalom often refers to his books as "teaching novels," and his re-creation of a working therapy group is utterly convincing. At the same time, his approach can be overly documentary, as the inner workings of therapy, often repetitious and self-referential, absorb much of the novel's momentum. A parallel account of Schopenhauer's life sheds light on the philosopher's intellectual triumphs and emotional difficulties.
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“A beautifully wrought tale of a therapy group’s final year and a moving debate about the end of life.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“Considers the value and limits of therapy and those points at which philosophy and psychology converge.” (Washington Post)

“Yalom’s enthusiasm is contagious. And he certainly knows how to tell a page-turning story.” (Los Angeles Times)

“As a novel of ideas, this book effectively explores loss, sexual desire, and the search for meaning.” (Library Journal)

“Yalom’s melding of philosophy, pedantry, psychiatry and literature result in a surprisingly engaging novel of ideas.” (San Francisco Chronicle)

“The world’s first accurate group-therapy novel, a mezmerizing story of two men’s search for meaning.” (Greensboro News & Record)

“Meticulous. [Yalom’s] re-creation of a working therapy group is utterly convincing.” (Publishers Weekly)

Customer Reviews

The story moves along-much within the character of Schopenhauer.
Dr. Joseph S. Maresca
Dr. Yalom makes great use of the novel to present us with his theories regarding the role of existential issues in psychotherapy.
Anyone who practices therapy (or not), individual or group, - on either side of the couch - must read Yalom.
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

97 of 98 people found the following review helpful By E. Bukowsky HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 29, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Irving Yalom's marvelous new novel, "The Schopenhauer Cure," is a wide-ranging and exhilarating exploration of psychotherapy, philosophy, and humanity. Julius Hertzfeld is a respected therapist who learns that his days may be numbered. Rather than retreat from life to lick his wounds and contemplate all that he must leave behind, Julius is determined to spend his remaining time continuing his psychotherapeutic work. He decides to look up Philip Slate, a former patient whom he once treated for severe sex addiction. Philip, one of Dr. Hertzfeld's most egregious failures, quit after three years of what he considered to be futile treatment. Julius invites Philip, who now aspires to be a licensed counselor himself, to join his therapy group. Philip agrees and he brings some heavy baggage with him.

"The Schopenhauer Cure" goes in several directions, but they all merge into a seamless whole. Yalom invites the reader into the tumultuous world of Julius's group therapy sessions, and he delves a bit into the private lives of each member of Julius's group. Pam is a college professor who has failed both in her marriage and in her adulterous relationship. Rebecca has relied too much on her physical beauty, and as she ages, she must face the fact that her looks are slowly fading. Tony is a carpenter whose rough exterior and lack of formal education hide an innate intelligence. These and other members of the therapy group are thrown off stride by the shocking news of Julius's illness and by Philip's icy demeanor.

To make matters even more complicated and interesting, Philip claims that he cured himself of his sex addiction by modeling his life after the great German philosopher, Arthur Schopenhauer.
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41 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on January 6, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Yalom writes about things that matter. Anyone who practices therapy (or not), individual or group, - on either side of the couch - must read Yalom. The Schopenhauer Cure takes us on a journey from disconnection to connection, a matter of life and death. Death turns our awareness to life: we connect "through the commonality of our suffering..." (p. 323).

Not only is Yalom a great novelist, but also a brilliant therapist. His earlier work touches on the essence of human nature. It is hard to believe that a single writer can get down to the core of so many vital issues. He began his work with a textbook -The Theory and Practice of Group Psychotherapy (1970), and writing novels in 1991 - coming full circle from a text on the subject of group therapy to a novel about it. If I would have only discovered Yalom 35 years ago I would be much further along. But then the readiness is all - and I am now ready.

After his diagnosis of malignant cancer and having only a year of life left, psychotherapist Julius Hertzfeld looks up Phillip - a patient from the past who he felt had failed in treatment years earlier. Julius invites him into his group on a deal - the group in exchange for supervision. In some odd way I love Phillip - a Schopenhauer scholar whose life parallels the philosopher's and whose philosophy is woven throughout the novel - men who could not bond with others. In The Schopenhauer Cure I watch Phillip unfold.

Philosophy, endings/beginnings, connections/disconnections, life/death, and suffering are woven throughout. The Schopenhauer Cure is a message in living life to the fullest - even in the face of imminent death. Although Julius has cancer, he continues to live to do what he loves most - group therapy.
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Robin Friedman HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 6, 2006
Format: Paperback
Irvin Yalom has had a multi-faceted career as a practicing psychotherapist, as a leading writer of texts on group therapy, and as a novelist. Yalom also had a deeply-based interest in philosophy. His novel "The Schopenhauer Cure" attempts to integrate fundmental human concerns, the search for love, for meaning in life, and for a way to accept death, with a novelistic portrayal of group therapy. It does so through a portrayal of Schopenhauer, among other philosophers. The book does not entirely succeed -- it is somewhat awkwardly written and the characterizations leave a good deal to be desired -- but it is thought-provoking and absorbing.

The story is set in San Francisco. The main character of the book is a famous psychiatrist, Julius, who learns that he has a fatal cancer. He considers how to spend his remaining time of health and, out of the blue, contacts Philip, a patient he had treated many years earlier, apparently unsuccesfully, for compulsive sexual behavior. Philip has in the intervening years given up his former career as a chemist, earned a PhD in philosophy and seeks to become a counselor. Philip has cured his sexual addiction by a study of the Nineteenth Century philosopher of pessimism, Arthur Schopenhauer. Like his mentor, Schopenhauer, Philip is arrogant, aloof, and brilliant. He agrees to become a participant in a therapy group lead by Julius in exchange for Julius's help in meeting the requirements for a counselling license.
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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.

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