Irvin Yalom is one of the best known, most widely-read and most influential psychiatrists in the contemporary world. Through his many books, which are accessible to ordinary readers as well as illuminating for psychotherapists, he has provided a guide for living in a perplexing world. A recent poll of American psychotherapists voted him to be one of the three most important living therapists, but the worldwide success of his books suggests that his prominence is international
Rather than positioning himself as a representative of one of the hundreds of “schools” or approaches to psychotherapy, Yalom offers a message that goes to the heart of psychotherapy. Taking up the central existential concerns of human life, Yalom’s work engages the problems of finding meaning in life and confronting death, concerns that had lain beyond the scope of psychiatry.
Writing in a literary style that reviewers have compared to Freud, Yalom details what actually happens in the intimate human encounter that is psychotherapy. Yalom does not shrink from exposing his own thoughts and feelings about what occurs; he, too, is a vulnerable and searching human being. He makes his thinking about his patients, and his efforts to treat them, transparent, exposing his doubts, reservations and struggles as well as his insights. He has written two textbooks, two volumes of case history stories, three novels about therapy, a guide for therapists and one book of counsel for the masses confronting death. Across all of this work, he explores the limitless and complex possibilities of the healing inherent in genuine human connection and authentic awareness of the dilemmas of human existence.
This book Irvin D. Yalom: On Psychotherapy and the Human Condition traces the genesis and evolution of his thinking and presents some of the seminal ideas of his writings.
Ruthellen Josselson, Ph.D. is a Professor of Psychology at The Fielding Graduate University and was formerly a Professor at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Harvard University. She is the author of Playing Pygmalion: How People Create One Another; Revising Herself: The Story of Women's Identity from College to Midlife and The Space Between Us: Exploring the Dimensions of Human Relationships. She has been, for many years, Co-editor of the Annual, The Narrative Study of Lives. Recipient of the Henry A. Murray Award from the American Psychological Association and a Fulbright Fellowship, she is also a practicing psychotherapist and holds a diplomate in Group Psychotherapy.