7Title: The Gift of TherapyAuthor:
Psychology, nonfictionOne-sentence summary:
Irvin Yalom is getting into his seventies and is depressed that he is going to die and will not be able to be a therapist anymore, so he wrote a book telling young therapists how to be like him so he will live on in them. Or something. I suppose the less flippant summary would be that he's worried about the future of therapy because he thinks managed care is ruining it (and I wouldn't altogether disagree, btw) so he wrote a book of advice on how to be a good therapist.Why did you get this book?
I like Irvin Yalom. I'm poking a little bit of fun at him up there, sure, but it's kind of a loving, "oh, Irv, you never change, do you?" sort of thing. I've read a lot of his stuff and it tends to repeat a lot of the same themes (for the record, there's little in this book that I didn't already know his opinion on from his novel Lying on the Couch
). But I do like his approach to therapy: he's very interested in the interpersonal aspect of it, what he calls the "here-and-now relationship" (man does he like that phrase an awful lot), and in therapist transparency -- the idea that if a therapist and a patient relate to one another as human beings, as opposed to the old-school model where a therapist attempts to be a blank screen onto which patients can project transference, that relationship will serve as a microcosm to illuminate the patient's way of relating to other people. So I like him for that, and I like him for the fact that he's an excellent and very accessible writer. Do you like the cover?
I liked it a lot, actually. I have started taking this question out of my standard list because it bores me, but this was a photograph by Baudrillard
that I really liked. Of course when I Googled it I found out that at least one experienced photographer thinks it's "to Baudrillard's credit that he had the wisdom not to quit his day job."
Oh boo. Did you enjoy the book?
I did. As noted, there wasn't much that was new to me in it, having read a lot of Yalom before. But there were a few new anecdotes among the old ones, and a few new dreams among the ones he'd recycled from other books, too -- he never makes up dreams for analysis in his books, because he says something about the quality of dreamworld eludes him, so you tend to come across the same dreams multiple times in reading his books because he has to get permission from the patients to use them. But the dreams he writes about, in particular, are really fascinating and compelling. And in general, you know. I like him. Was the author new to you and would you read something by this author again?
Honestly I don't know how much else there is to read. He has something out called Staring at the Sun: Overcoming the Terror of Death
, which I may pick up at some point. Among other things he has a strong existential orientation in his therapy, so sometimes reading his books can feel like "YOU'RE GOING TO DIE YOU'RE GOING TO DIE WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIE YOU MUST COME TO TERMS WITH YOUR DEATH DEATH DEATH DEATH DEATH OMG DEATH!!!!" I sort of have to be in the mood for that. But I guess I'll probably read it at some point. Are you keeping it or passing it on?
This would be a good introduction to Yalom's work, I think, for someone wanting to become acquainted quickly with the way he works and the basics of the therapeutic process. (If you're interested in his more creative writing, try Love's Executioner
or maybe Lying on the Couch
, although I've a few caveats on the latter.) Scale of 1 to 10:
7? 8? I'd give it easily an 8 if I weren't so familiar with all of the material in it.