Irvin D. Yalom

Irvin D.

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

Author Quotes

Perhaps the real therapy occurred at the deathbed scene, when they moved into honesty with the revelation that they were fellow travelers, both simply human, all too human.

Someday soon, perhaps in forty years, there will be no one alive who has ever known me. That's when I will be truly dead -- when I exist in no one's memory. I thought a lot about how someone very old is the last living individual to have known some person or cluster of people. When that person dies, the whole cluster dies, too, vanishes from the living memory. I wonder who that person will be for me. Whose death will make me truly dead.

The act of revealing oneself fully to another and still being accepted may be the major vehicle of therapeutic help.

The meaning of patient to remember! It means that we must against the beliefs of others, even if they are deemed to be patient irrational

The ultimate goal of therapy ... it's too hard a question. The words come to me like tranquility, like fulfillment, like realizing your potential. Things that Freud used to say; being able to work and to love, that's pretty good summary of it right there. But mainly it's this idea I tried to explain ... you have to develop a separate new therapy for every single patient. So for some patients the goal will be this and for some the goal will be that. For one patient I have now the goal really is for him to be able to discuss some of his vulnerabilities with his wife and then have a real relationship between the two of them.

To lose a parent or a close friend often equates to loss of the past: the man who died was perhaps the only other living witness of past happy events. But to lose a child means that you lose the future: what is lost is the entire plan of your life - what we live, how you project yourself in the future, how you hope they will transcend death (actually, the child becomes your view to immortality).

What has been given is a new perspective on living life, and what has been taken away is the illusion of limitless life and the belief in a personal specialness exempting us from natural law.

You know, I think everybody I've seen has come from some other therapy, and almost invariably it's very much the same thing: the therapist is too disinterested, a little too aloof, a little too inactive. They're not really interested in the person, he doesn't relate to the person. All these things I've written so much about. That's why I've made such a practice really, over and over to hammer home the point of self-revelation and being more of yourself and showing yourself. Every book I write I want to get that in there.

I dream of a love that is more than two people craving to possess one another.

If a person lives among those with very different beliefs cannot be accommodated without fundamental change with them.

In a study we did of bereavement, we found that rather impressive numbers of widows and widowers had not simply gone back to their pre-loss functioning, but grown. This was due to a kind of increased existential awareness that resulted from this confrontation with the death of another. And I think it brought them in touch with their own death, so they began to experience a kind of preciousness to life that comes with an experience of its transiency.

Life is a spark between two identical voids, the darkness before birth and the one after death.

Maybe he was a late bloomer - one of those patients who needed time to digest the nourishment given by the therapist, one of those who stored up some of the therapist's good stuff, took it home, like a bone, to gnaw on later, in private.

Nothing wrong with honoring the death? not the dead, but honoring the life of the one who died.

Perhaps, said Nietzsche, only toggle by being a man does a man release the woman in woman.

Someone's got to do some more research, but I would really like to know: when a CBT therapist really gets distressed, who does he go see?

The Breuer tried to shake off the death from his mind. Muttered his favorite spell the words of Lucretius: Where is death, I am not. Where I am, death is not. Why to worry? But it did not help. He shook his head, trying to clear these macabre thoughts. Since he had come? From the conversation about death that made ??with Nietzsche? No, probably not of the put Nietzsche in mind, only the liberated. He was always there. All had rethought. In what area of his mind but lived when not thinking of? Freud was right: there must be a complex considerations tank in the brain, beyond consciousness, but on standby, ready at any time be invited to parade on stage of consciousness. And in this unconscious tank, there will be only thoughts and feelings! A few days ago, Av 'from his car, the Breuer looked at the adjacent car. The two horses pulling trotter behind the cab, inside which sat two passengers, a sullen elderly couple. But there was no coachman. A ghost car! Terror blinded him, and had an instant perspiration: clothes within seconds became soaked. And then it appeared the cab driver: he simply bend to tie his boot. At first, Breuer had laughed at the silly reaction. But the more the thinking, so he realized that as a rationalist and free thinker though he was, but in his mind hidden supernatural terror nests. And not very deep: Duty were seconds away from the surface. A, there was a forceps to uproot these nests, like tonsils!

The more the therapist is able to tolerate the anxiety of not knowing, the less need there is for the therapist to embrace orthodoxy.

Then when he talked about, something important, nothing of what is being said does not matter

To love means to be actively concerned for the life and the growth of another.

What is it that guarantees salvation? That man's self-ashamed anymore!

You must have something deep in the depths of the subconscious mind or as Freud says in there that cause certain readers, certain writers love.

I feel strongly, because a man who will himself die one day in the not too distant future and, also, as a psychiatrist who spent decades dealing with death anxiety, that confronting death allows us, not to open some noisome, Pandora's box, but to re-enter life in a richer, more compassionate manner.

If anything is to be honored and blessed, it should simply be this - the priceless gift of sheer existence. To live in despair because life is finite or because life has no higher purpose or embedded design is crass ingratitude. To dream up an omniscient creator and devote our life to endless genuflection seems pointless. And wasteful, too: why squander all that love on a phantasm when there seems too little love to go around on Earth as it is?

In general, however, there is agreement that groups differ from one another in the amount of groupness present. Those with a greater sense of solidarity, or we-ness, the group value more highly and will defend it against internal and external Threat Sense. Such groups have a higher rate of attendance, Participation, and mutual support and will defend the group standards much more than groups with less esprit de corps.

Author Picture
First Name
Irvin D.
Last Name
Birth Date

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