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

wolf and the woman


I have had Clarissa Pinkola Estes’s book on my shelf for a long while.  It has gathered dust which I occasionally wipe away with my index finger.  Sometimes I just look at the dust and let it reside where it wants.

Recently I was reminded of her work.  It’s time I think for me to be associated with her wisdom, reacquainted with her soothing, wise voice and to learn about the treasures within, to heal, to refill the well per-se. So I will begin by listening to one of her audio books, Warming the Stone Child.

The book which has gathered dust on my shelf however is her tome on the Women who Run with Wolves. I am drawn and intrigued at how Estes draws a parallel between a Woman and a wolf. A Wolf and a Woman.

I love wolves. If I could, I would keep one home with me and she would follow me wherever I went, or didn’t go. She would be my shadow, my light, my muse, my best mate.

Wolves are truly special beings. If you don’t think so, I’d urge you to look one in the eye and then you’ll know for sure!

They are Wild.  They are Precious. They love their pack and are devoted to their tribe. And they are Loyal. And loyalty always gets me! Fabulous values.  A pity that not all us humans embody these good qualities within our own lives.

Today I found this quote by Estes.  It is quote that is quite hard to read initially perhaps because of its truth but it spoke to me as it is kind of how I’ve been feeling for a little while:

There is a time in our lives, usually in mid-life, when a woman has to make a decision – possibly the most important psychic decision of her future life – and that is, whether to be bitter or not. Women often come to this in their late thirties or early forties. They are at the point where they are full up to their ears with everything and they’ve “had it” and “the last straw has broken the camel’s back” and they’re “pissed off and pooped out.” Their dreams of their twenties may be lying in a crumple. There may be broken hearts, broken marriages, broken promises. 

Ah the broken heart; the broken promises…the choice to be bitter or not.

But there are options. Oh yes, so I’ve been told. Options that are available to women (and wolves, men too) and this is:

Everything from quiescence to camouflaging to pulling back the ears, baring the teeth and lunging for the throat.

And I liked it most when she said:

Going for the kill is something to be used in rare, rare, rare cases.

She then smiles and takes a sip from a diet soda.

barriers we build

I found this blog only moments ago (https://moodphototeija.wordpress.com) and her photo, the poem and caption, made me wonder.

The photo speaks of a certain vulnerability; a fragile like state of being that is almost impossible to sustain in this crazy world we live in. But I guess it mostly resonates and speaks to me because it’s what I’m thinking of at the moment so naturally the eyes see what the heart ♥ feels.

I am thinking about the barriers we build to protect ourselves, our own vulnerability, which only, in turn, serves to isolate and keep us locked up in our own man-made prison.

Yet, these barriers are there precisely because we have been hurt. They’re not there from birth, we weren’t born with it. No. They’ve been created, built brick by brick, from life and because of life and we have learnt to do this, I’m sad to say, from our fellow humans.

People cross our boundaries every day, in obvious and subtle ways. So the barriers are necessary, a needs must, and a way of self-preservation. They protect us from further harm, further damage to the already weary soul. They guarantee, to a point, that we are somewhat in control of potentially, more pain and heartache. And at times we need to do what we must, and not what we want, in order to survive another day.

I guess all we can possibly do as fallible humans, is hope that when the time comes to let these walls down (because that time WILL surely come this I know, don’t ask me how), that we know we can; and that we feel brave, and ready enough to do so with the ones who have always been waiting to Love us.

Here is what moodphototeija says in her blog:

Somehow I have lost the ability to tell how I feel, not in photography so much but otherwise… Too afraid to reveal my inner thoughts. Always bit afraid what others might think. Would they use something against me? Or would they like me less? And would it matter if they did? I have been too trustful too many times, for example to people who has been acting like my friends. And then they are just been using me for something, their own personal needs. It is hard pick up the pieces…but that`s what we do. Someone breaks our heart, and we still keep going. But sometimes we start to build up a wall around us, wanting to be out of reach of anyone to break us again. And then we are keeping the good people away from us too. The people who would be honest and caring.

“Well I’ve got a thick skin and an elastic heart
But your blade it might be too sharp
I’m like a rubber band until you pull too hard
But I may snap when I move close
But you won’t see me fall apart
Cause I’ve got an elastic heart
I’ve got an elastic heart
Yeah, I’ve got an elastic heart” – lyrics by Sia, Elastic Heart

You lost me.