Momma And The Meaning Of Life
Tales From Psychotherapy
As the public grows disillusioned with therapeutic quick fixes, people are looking for a deeper psychotherapeutic experience to make life more meaningful and satisfying. What really happens in therapy? What promises and perils does it hold for them? No one writes about therapy - or indeed the dilemmas of the human condition - with more acuity, style, and heart than Irvin Yalom. Here he combines the storytelling skills so widely praised in Love's Executioner with the wisdom of the compassionate and fully engaged psychotherapist. In these six compelling tales of therapy, Yalom introduces us to an unforgettable cast of characters: Paula, who faces death and stares it down; Magnolia, into whose ample lap Yalom longs to pour his own sorrows; Irene, who learns to seek out anger and plunge into it. And there's Momma, old-fashioned, ill-tempered, who drifts into Yalom's dreams and tramples through his thoughts. At once wildly entertaining and deeply thoughtful, Momma and the Meaning of Life is a work of rare insight and imagination.
Following the "tales from the clinic" formula that helped make his Love's Executioner a bestseller, psychiatrist Yalom reveals much more of himself this time around. He starts with a soul-baring account of his relationship with his mother, in Yalom's description a domineering woman who was intensely proud of her famous son. Their dance of mutual fear, control and deceit instilled patterns that took Yalom years to unlearn. Committed to egalitarian, mutually enriching relationships with his patients, Yalom tells of his grandiose fantasies of rescuing distressed damsels, as well as of his abiding need for a consoling mother figure. He found one such in Magnolia, a 70-year-old black woman working through her own feelings of childhood abandonment by her widowed mother. Another patient, Paula, a woman with terminal breast cancer, initially radiates an inner serenity but eventually unveils to Yalom her "anger rock," the symbolic repository of her pent-up rage and despair. We also meet Martin, an elderly, wheelchair-bound man whose exhausted caretaker son mocks his suicide attempt; Rosa, an 80-pound anorexic who is fed intravenously; Irene, an imperious surgeon who agonizes over her husband's terminal illness; and Linda, a furious divorc e whose privacy was abusively violated as a girl by her father. Yalom's therapeutic encounters, as recorded here, are often painful crucibles of personal transformation, in which people grow in unexpected ways by releasing reservoirs of guilt, fear, sadness, anger and denial. Author tour.