Yalom has chosen 10 fascinating case studies, and isn’t afraid to talk about the mistakes he made with each one. His essays are just as revelatory about his clinical style as they are about his patients’ troubles. My favorite is probably the first (and longest), also called “Love’s Executioner,” about a woman who was seduced by her much-younger therapist when she was 60 years old. Eight years have gone by and she simply cannot let go, much to Dr. Yalom’s endless frustration. Even as he was parsing her psychopathology, Yalom still managed to give this woman dignity–I never got the sense that I was being invited to mock, but rather to enter into her frustration.
From Amazon, here is the book’s first paragraph:
I do not like to work with patients who are in love. Perhaps it is because of envy – I, too, crave enchantment. Perhaps it is because love and psychotherapy are fundamentally incompatible. The good therapist fights darkness and seeks illumination, while romantic love is sustained by mystery and crumbles upon inspection. I hate to be love’s executioner.
I think I want to read this book.