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What makes life worth living? What can we do to lead meaningful lives? And how do we confront our inevitable end? In his long career, eminent psychotherapist and author Irvin Yalom has pressed his patients and readers to grapple with life's two greatest challenges: that we all must die, and that each of us is responsible for leading a life worth living. In Creatures of a Day, he and his patients face the difficulty of these challenges. Although these people have come to Yalom seeking relief, recognition, or meaning, he and they discover that such things are rarely found in the places where we think to look.
Like Love's Executioner and Yalom's other writing, Creatures of a Day provides an intelligent, compassionate, yet still unflinching look at the human soul and all the pain, confusion, and hope that go with it. The power of these stories is amplified by Yalom's reflections on his own life as he reckons with its inevitable end. Suffused with humor, great artistry, and a profound humanity, Creatures of a Day lays bare the necessary task we each face, each day, to make our own lives meaningful.
Novelist and psychiatrist Yalom (The Spinoza Problem) offers 10 tales from his clients that illuminate the gifts of psychotherapy, particularly the hopeful lessons one can glean from it in the context of aging and death. He steers away from the riddle-like tales of strange human behavior found in comparable books like Stephen Grosz's The Examined Life, and instead lingers on his patients and his reactions to them. The title, drawn from Marcus Aurelius, hints at the book's primary concern, which is mortality. Ellie struggles with terminal cancer and wants to be a "pioneer of dying." Rick, a successful businessman, enjoys a luxurious existence in a retirement community that only underlines the impending end of his life. Despite this focus on death, Yalom also has genuinely inspiring insights to share about the value of therapy, such as his certainty "that if I can create a genuine and caring environment, my patients will find the help they need, often in marvelous ways." The stories Yalom offers of his patients' failures and triumphs are frequently moving and will invoke the reader's empathy.