"The publication of Creatures of a Day is reason to celebrate." -- Steven Pinker
In this stunning collection of stories, renowned psychiatrist Irvin D. Yalom describes his patients' struggles -- as well as his own -- to come to terms with the two great challenges of existence: how to have a meaningful life yet reckon with its inevitable end. We meet a nurse who must stifle the pain of losing her son in order to comfort her patients' pains, a newly minted psychologist whose studies damage her treasured memories of a lost friend, and a man whose rejection of psychological inquiry forces even Yalom himself into a crisis of confidence.
Creatures of a Day is a radically honest statement about the difficulties of human life, but also a celebration of some of the finest fruits -- love, family, friendship -- it can offer. Marcus Aurelius has written that "we are all creatures of a day." With Yalom as our guide, we will find the means to make our own day not only bearable, but also meaningful and joyful.
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.
Creatures for a day
One of my favorites