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Becoming Myself: A Psychiatrist's Memoir Paperback – October 3, 2017
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About the Author
Irvin D Yalom is an emeritus professor of psychiatry at Stanford University and a psychiatrist in private practice in San Francisco. He is the author of many bestselling titles including Love's Executioner, Momma and the Meaning of Life, The Gift of Therapy, Staring at the Sun and Creatures of a Day.
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Within the Memoir, Dr. Yalom offers revealing insight into his conceptualization of his many books and the beautiful retreats where he wrote in solitude. I will surely re-read them with that in mind. His unique personal commentary entwined in many of his books continues in this one. I especially enjoyed the chapter on Rollo May. I find Dr. Yalom's thoughtful honesty so refreshing in our current world where truth and ethics seem to be fading. I will continue to share his work with my students to keep the "rippling" flowing.
As we all experience Dr. Yalom's "final book", may we stand and applaud his wisdom and our connections, requesting an ENCORE! (from his ongoing "Ideas for writing" file). I'd like to hear more stories about living an exemplary life (in spite of) and the many types of love along the way from someone who does it so well. With deep appreciation.
The story of his relationship with, and feelings for, his parents are particularly telling. His literary and intellectual interests were not ones shared by his immigrant mother and father. Indeed, these interests drew him away from them. But his parents still were always there to help him advance his career by financing his education, giving him the down payment for the purchase of his current home, and loving him in their own way. Given the historically difficult relationship the author had with his parents, and his mother in particular, it is noteworthy that the author dedicates the book to their memory, as well as to the memory of his sister, about whom we learn little in the book. To me, it shows that Dr. Yalom has come to understand and appreciate that his parents were always supportive of him.
I most admired the author's willingness to face the fear of death with his patients, and with himself. My experience is that this is a subject generally avoided by many psychiatrists. There seems indeed to be a conspiracy of silence between most therapists and their patients on this critical subject. But not with Yalom! He faces the issue of death head on, and has done so successfully for decades.
I am an artist who paints objects not visible to the naked eye, such as those things one sees in a drop of pond water through a microscope. Likewise, Yalom, with his own intellectual microscope, sees so much of the internal life of a patient that others, including the patient himself/herself, simply does not see. As such, I see Dr. Yalom as an artist, but simply operating in a different realm from me.
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Irvin D. Yalom. “Becoming Myself. A Psychiatrist’s Memoir.” New York: Basic Books, 2017.Read more