Love's Executioner

In my twenties, I shared a small, dark house with a friend who was in therapy (he went on to qualify as a psychotherapist himself). Some of our happiest moments in that house were spent with our feet up on the gas wall heater, me on the cane couch, him in the armchair, endlessly analysing ourselves, each other and all our friends and family.

Inspired by Robert's example, I even tried therapy myself, but I didn't last long. Reading Irvin Yalom's accounts of his own patients, I found myself drawn back to my own experience, wondering what my therapist made of it and exactly why I'd abandoned the project so abruptly. I don't think I was really committed to therapy, to tell the truth; I felt I could manage on my own (maybe that's the story...)

I'm pretty sure I've read Love's Executioner before -- maybe even when I was living in Budd St. Dr Yalom is an appealing writer -- honest about his own mistakes and failings, determined to dig beneath the surface to find what's interesting about his clients, even when they seem dull or irritating (I remember I was very concerned that my therapist might find me boring... I'm sure I was!) Again and again, he returns to his central mission -- to explore the meaning of being human. Interestingly, in this earlier work, Yalom is much more preoccupied with sex; in Creatures of a Day, published many years later, his thoughts revolved more around death.

There is wisdom in this book, hard won and sometimes denied (Yalom includes some failures in these case studies). No wonder it's become a classic.

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