yalom; it is the relationship that heals


Irvin Yalom is an existential psychiatrist and his book ‘Love’s Executioner’ was the first book on existential psychotherapy I ever read.  It was very good for me then to be introduced to this model in such a way.

My thoughts of Yalom have evolved over the years as they tend to but I still really enjoy his quotes and their simple and honest meaning.

It is interesting that as I think of returning to the world of psychotherapy (by continuing my studies) I am finding that the world of existential psychotherapy is also looking for me! I have always remembered his words when he said that it is the relationship that heals.  How very true.  I have seen this in my own clinical practice, in my own relationships etc. And the contrary can also apply, i.e. the shadow side of the relationship which when is in full manifestation, can damage.  So one has to be mindful.


Here are some other quotes by Yalom for you to enjoy and reflect upon:

“Some day 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?”
― Irvin D. YalomLove’s Executioner and Other Tales of Psychotherapy

 “Every person must choose how much truth he can stand.”
― Irvin D. YalomWhen Nietzsche Wept

 “If you make a mistake, admit it. Any attempt at cover-up will ultimately backfire. At some level the patient will sense you are acting in bad faith, and therapy will suffer. Furthermore, an open admission of error is good model-setting for patients and another sign that they matter to you.”
― Irvin D. YalomThe Gift of Therapy: An Open Letter to a New Generation of Therapists and Their Patients

 “Life is a miserable thing. I have decided to spend my life thinking about it.”
― Irvin D. YalomThe Schopenhauer Cure

 “One thing I feel clear about is that it’s important not to let your life live you. Otherwise, you end up at forty feeling you haven’t really lived. What have I learned? Perhaps to live now, so that at fifty I won’t look back upon my forties with regret.”
― Irvin D. YalomWhen Nietzsche Wept

 “To care of another individual means to know and to experience the other as fully as possible.”
― Irvin D. YalomExistential Psychotherapy

“love obsession often serves as a distraction, keeping the individual’s gaze from more painful thoughts.”
― Irvin D. YalomThe Gift of Therapy: An Open Letter to a New Generation of Therapists and Their Patients

 “Life as a therapist is a life of service in which we daily transcend our personal wishes and turn our gaze toward the needs and growth of the other. We take pleasure not only in the growth of our patient but also in the ripple effect—the salutary influence our patients have upon those whom they touch in life.”
― Irvin D. YalomThe Gift of Therapy

 “The pain is there; when you close one door on it, it knocks to come in somewhere else…”
― Irvin D. YalomStaring at the Sun: Overcoming the Terror of Death


Yalom, I. D. (2002). The gift of therapy.Chatham: CPI Mackays.

Yalom, I. D.(2011). Starign at the Sun: Overcoming the terror of death.Chatham: CPI Mackays

Yalom, I. D. (1980). Existential psychotherapy.USA: Yalom family trust

Yalom, I. D. (2011). When Nietzsche wept. New York: Harper

Yalom, I. D (2007). The Schopenhauer cure. New York: Harper Collins

Yalom, I. D (1991). Love’s executioner and other tales of psychotherapy. London: Penguin group

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I'm a woman living in London and this blog captures what lands within my sight and connects with my psyche. I expect it to evolve naturally. It is a place I shall visit from time to time and where things that I am touched by deeply will find a soft place to land. As a psychotherapist and a continuing student, most of the articles you shall find here will somehow, in some way, be related to therapy and well-being. I love comments, so feel free to add yours, whenever and however. I wish you well.

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