Irvin D. Yalom

Irvin D.

American Existentialist Psychiatrist, Professor of Psychiatry at Stanford University, Fiction and Nonfiction Author

Author Quotes

Where I am, death is not; where death is, I am not.

I think all kinds of meanings in life transcend yourself. They're linked to other generations of people around us, to our children and our family. We're passing on something of ourselves to others. I feel that's what makes our life full of meaning.

If one is to learn to live with the dead, one must first learn to live with the living!

It is wrong to bear children out of need, wrong to use a child to alleviate loneliness, wrong to provide purpose in life by reproducing another copy of oneself. It is wrong also to seek immortality by spewing one's germ into the future as though sperm contains your consciousness.

Love is something eternal and endless spirit of pure joy strength that is free of sorrow. That is why it is very desirable and have managed it all in their power to Search.

Most dew falls in the quiet night.

One thing he resolved was not to make that one good year a bad year by grieving that it was not more than a year.

Self-awareness is a supreme gift, a treasure as precious as life. This is what makes us human. But it comes with a costly price: the wound of mortality. Our existence is forever shadowed by the knowledge that we will grow, blossom, and, inevitably, diminish and die.

Spinoza's followers believe salvation of all mankind. He predicted that popular religion will decline, because a growing number of people devoted themselves to the fullest understanding of the world are searching for. Spinoza was the supreme rationalists. The endless stream of cause and effect in the world to see. For him there is no such thing as free will or will power. Nothing capricious does not occur. Because every event, former event and we have dedicated more attention causal network further we will be free. This world view regular and predictable rules derived from mathematics, a world of infinite explanation was that the Goethe gave a sense of relief.

The freedom of an unscheduled afternoon brought confusion rather than joy. Julius had always been focused. When he was not seeing patients, other important projects and activities-writing, teaching, tennis, research-clamored for his attention. But today nothing seemed important. He suspected that nothing had ever been important, that his mind had arbitrarily imbued projects with importance and then cunningly covered its traces. Today he saw through the ruse of a lifetime. Today there was nothing important to do, and he ambled aimlessly down Union Street.

The search for meaning, much like the search for pleasure, must be conducted obliquely. Meaning ensues from meaningful activity: the more we deliberately pursue it, the less likely are we to find it; the rational questions one can pose about meaning will always outlast the answers. In therapy, as in life, meaningfulness is a by-product of engagement and commitment, and that is where therapists must direct their efforts ? not that engagement provides the rational answer to questions of meaning, but it causes these questions not to matter.

Though the physicality of death destroys us, the idea of death may save us.

Translation error is compounded by bias error. We distort others by forcing into them our preferred ideas and gestalts, a process Proust beautifully describes: We pack the physical outline of the creature we see with all the ideas we already formed about him, and in the complete picture of him which we compose in our minds, these ideas have certainly the principal place. In the end they come to fill out so completely the curve of his cheeks, to follow so exactly the line of his nose, they blend so harmoniously in the sound of his voice that these seem to be no more than a transparent envelope, so that time we see each the face or hear the voice it is our own ideas of him which we recognize and to which we listen.

Where there is life, not death and not life where there is death.

I think my quarry is illusion. I war against magic. I believe that, though illusion often cheers and comforts, it ultimately and invariably weakens and constricts the spirit.

If people in their 20s had more death awareness, would that in fact temper their ambition or drive? My hunch is yes. It would certainly do something for those who are most ruthless, who tend to make others most miserable. Some sort of greater awareness of their own finiteness and what their time on earth really is, and what they really want to do with their lives, could help improve them.

It?s no great mystery. If no one will listen, it?s only natural to shout!

Love obsession often serves as a distraction, keeping the individual?s gaze from more painful thoughts.

My work is to love my body, all of it. Whole and entire. The whole aging mortal troublesome failing miraculous intricate breathing doomed cancerous warm mortifying unreliable hard-working imperfect beautiful appalling living struggling tender frightened frightening living dying living breathing temporary wondrous mystifying afflicted mortally-ill assemblage of the atoms of the universe that is myself, is me, for this space of time.

One thing I feel clear about is that it's important not to let your life live you. Otherwise, you end up at forty feeling you haven't really lived. What have I learned? Perhaps to live now, so that at fifty I won't look back upon my forties with regret.

Sex as the vital antagonist to death-isn't the orgasm the primal spark of life? Know of many I instances in which sexual feelings arise in order to neutralize fears of death.

Strong and sincere eyes. Eyes that could be trusted, eyes that could hold anyone's gaze.

The future of what was done in the past with the physical and psychological mood, emotions, fears, goals, nature, love and determined attitude of others.

The silence felt sacred.

Through the years, the centuries, the millennia, we have relentlessly constructed makeshift denials of finiteness. Would we, would any of us, ever be done with our search for a higher power with whom we can merge and exist forever.

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Irvin D.
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American Existentialist Psychiatrist, Professor of Psychiatry at Stanford University, Fiction and Nonfiction Author