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So I requested the book "Love's Executioner" at my local library and read the first case story yesterday. Very entrancing...which of course leads me to more self-introspection after my recent experience in therapy.

As I'm reading, I can't help feeling a little disturbed with the way so many therapists refer to the therapeutic relationship in terms of it being "not real". And I feel that again behind the words of this author/therapist. I'm sure it is the "protecting love" thing again with me... I've drawn a bit of a different conclusion now. I think more in terms that the relationship likely could not be achieved in the same manner under the normal conditions of the outside world that it is inside the therapy room. And that's probably what the descriptions I've been reading all along actually meant anyhow. Maybe the relationship is indeed its own entity. Not fake or untrue, but simply different and man-made in a way. So I suppose then that any feelings that may arise about that relationship from the two inside the room have a life of their own as well. It all has a purpose and is very informative.

It's quite intriguing reading the perspective from the other side of the room. Yalom doesn't like when his client is impersonal with him and won't direct questions toward him in a personal manner. In my therapy experience, I was always concerned that doing this would be pushing the boundaries. I certainly would have loved knowing more of his personal feelings about things, but was sometimes afraid to ask because I didn't want to break any rules. Interesting.

The first case study was about a 70 year old woman, 8 years obsessed with her former therapist, who she'd had a brief fling with. Studying feelings for one's therapist thing can be so self-informative, it seems. And, for her, the reality of it all was her hiding behind this romantic illusion as a means of avoiding her impending mortality. Or merely not wanting to face her old age. Love is a personal message of the self. And if one is willing to get outside of the bubble enough to look back inside at what it's saying, one can learn a whole lot about the self. What are your drives? What are your motivations? What are your needs? Wants? How do you love? Why? What does it mean? In this relationship, the big world part is eliminated in some way, the variables taken away...and one can get right to the "meat" of it. How cool!

I think for me the "hanging on" to my therapist part was about a fear of forgetting, and/or of losing hope. But while he may have guided me to my internal light, that light is still mine. It hasn't dimmed even after I let him go. Relating with others and caring for them helps us to access parts of the self that were perhaps hidden before. So whenever I interact in my other relationships with this new-found freedom that we discovered together in the room, I can connect with him still in some way. The remote areas of myself that this love helped me to find is part of me. It can't be lost.

Okay then. I am very much liking this book so far. It's helping me learn even more about myself. Interesting stuff. It must be frustrating to not be able to help every client discover their own self-truth and to gain from that experience.

As I have read on into Case 2 this AM, I notice a much more positive feeling. I'm not sensng the "unreal" connotation from this therapist any longer. Maybe I am still a tad defensive. Something to work on...but then Carlos had a much different response to his therapy as well.

I wasn't sure exactly where to put this thread. The Lounge seemed like an appropriate place. Anyone else here read this book? Well, besides Dr. Allan, that is. I know he's read it. :)

Edited by IrmaJean
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Guest ASchwartz

Hi Irmajean,

Of course, when you talk about Irvin Yalom you are talking about one of my heroes. He is a brilliant psychiatrist and psychotherapist. But, he is more than those things because he is also a real human being who brings his humanity into the office with him.

You will enjoy Love's Executioner and I am sure you will enjoy his other books. You might give Momma and The Meaning of Life a try when you are finished with this book.


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Yes, I have been loving it. :) I started reading yesterday and am already halfway through. I love the humanity he brings into the relationship. I love the way he catches himself when his own feelings seem to be getting in the way. I love the way he takes each challenge with each client and thinks it out so thoroughly in order to discover the best methods to use in order to best help the client. A client bores him and he wants to know why. He uses the relationship to find the answers he needs in order lead his client in the right direction. And he calls himself out on his mistakes. He is definitely very human. I really think that is so important...and I also believe in the healing power of the relationship as well. I feel enthusiatic about this kind of stuff. My own therapy has ignited a passion in me. Have I said that before? Probably. But I'll be reading and probably reading a lot. Thanks so much for the recommendation. :)

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  • 1 month later...

I know Allan isn't here, but I just finished reading "Momma and the Meaning of Life". I would really love to have a conversation with Irving Yalom. He seems a genius in his field.

My favorite line from the book would have to be this...

"People love themselves if they see a loving image of themselves reflected in the eyes of someone they really care about."

And, that, I would have to say, is exactly why the therapeutic relationship is so important to healing. How poignant and true... Great book!

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