Writing the Talking Cure: Irvin D. Yalom and the Literature of Psychotherapy

SUNY Press
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Explores Yalom’s profound contributions to psychotherapy and literature.


A distinguished psychiatrist and psychotherapist, Irvin D. Yalom is also the United States’ most well-known author of psychotherapy tales. His first volume of essays, Love’s Executioner, became an immediate best seller, and his first novel, When Nietzsche Wept, continues to enjoy critical and popular success. Yalom has created a subgenre of literature, the “therapy story,” where the therapist learns as much as, if not more than, the patient; where therapy never proceeds as expected; and where the therapist’s apparent failure proves ultimately to be a success. 


Writing the Talking Cure is the first book to explore all of Yalom’s major writings. Taking an interdisciplinary approach, Jeffrey Berman comments on Yalom’s profound contributions to psychotherapy and literature and emphasizes the recurrent ideas that unify his writings: the importance of the therapeutic relationship, therapist transparency, here-and-now therapy, the prevalence of death anxiety, reciprocal healing, and the idea of the wounded healer. Throughout, Berman discusses what Yalom can teach therapists in particular and the common (and uncommon) reader in general.


“As a psychiatrist who has benefitted enormously not only from Yalom’s writings but also from his mentorship, I admire Berman’s relationship to his subject. They both write lucidly and imaginatively, inviting the reader to accompany them on a personal journey that is intriguing but intellectually rigorous. Reading this book helps me to better understand Yalom’s dual roles—as brilliant psychotherapist/teacher and compelling novelist. Berman’s book-by-book examination of Yalom’s work illustrates how good therapy involves facing reality, and good fiction involves making stories come alive by resonating with the hard truths of life. He is the perfect guide to Yalom, capturing his wisdom and creativity with respect and clarity.” — David Spiegel, author of Living Beyond Limits: New Hope and Help for Facing Life-Threatening Illness


“This is a convincing celebration of and commentary on one of the most prominent psychotherapists of the last century. For anyone interested in the popularization of an idiosyncratic form of existential psychotherapy for individuals and groups, this will be an important book.” — Murray Schwartz, Emerson College


“In this richly textured book, Berman takes us backstage in a warm and skillful exploration of Irvin Yalom’s unmatched contributions as a psychotherapist, author, and educator. We are provided a transparent view of how human healing emerges from our talking, writing, and reading. Berman reminds us eloquently that psychotherapy is, at its essence, the process of human connection and the joint attribution of meaning to experience.” — Molyn Leszcz, The University of Toronto 

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About the author

Jeffrey Berman is Distinguished Teaching Professor of English at the University at Albany, State University of New York. His previous books include Writing Widowhood: The Landscapes of BereavementDeath in the Classroom: Writing about Love and Loss; and Dying to Teach: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Learning, all published by SUNY Press.

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Additional Information

Publisher
SUNY Press
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Published on
May 1, 2019
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Pages
336
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ISBN
9781438473895
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Language
English
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Genres
Literary Criticism / American / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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William Schofield presents a classic analysis of mental illness, of professional psychotherapists and their training, and of the elements of psychotherapy. He asserts the need for more rigorous selection of candidates for therapy and for a properly focused training of a new professional specialist: the psychotherapist. In his new introduction to this important critique, Schofield shows why his pleas for a rational training program are still appropriate.

"Psychotherapy "is a pioneering critique of modern psychiatric practices. Far too many people see psychotherapy as a cure for every ill from tormenting self-doubt to lack of zest of life. Through failure to attend to careful assessment of the presenting problem, and the nature (and neglect) of the applicant's social resources, the psychotherapist can fall unwittingly into the role of moral counselor or morale coach, and can be seduced into the chronic role of "best friend." Schofield argues that today's overburdened experts--psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, and psychiatric social workers--are not specifically trained to administer therapy through conversation. This book, first published in 1964, is an urgent call for a new specialist, a psychotherapist trained as a specialist in therapeutic conversation.

This book is also a call for a more realistic public attitude toward mental disorder--one which distinguishes emotional illness from unhappiness and discontent. Everyone interested in the growth, clarification, and evaluation of psychotherapy and counseling will be challenged by Schofield's arguments.

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“We each have Skype accounts and use them to discuss [Moby-Dick] face to face. Once a week, we spread the worded whale out in front of us; we dissect its head, eyes, and bones, careful not to hurt or kill it. The Professor and I are not whale hunters. We are not letting the whale die. We are shaping it, letting it swim through the Web with a new and polished look.”—Tito Mukhopadhyay

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Discussing fictional works over a period of years with readers from across the autism spectrum, Savarese was stunned by the readers' ability to expand his understanding of texts he knew intimately. Their startling insights emerged not only from the way their different bodies and brains lined up with a story but also from their experiences of stigma and exclusion.

For Mukhopadhyay Moby-Dick is an allegory of revenge against autism, the frantic quest for a cure. The white whale represents the autist's baffling, because wordless, immersion in the sensory. Computer programmer and cyberpunk author Dora Raymaker skewers the empathetic failings of the bounty hunters in Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Autistics, some studies suggest, offer instruction in embracing the nonhuman. Encountering a short story about a lonely marine biologist in Antarctica, Temple Grandin remembers her past with an uncharacteristic emotional intensity, and she reminds the reader of the myriad ways in which people can relate to fiction. Why must there be a norm?

Mixing memoir with current research in autism and cognitive literary studies, Savarese celebrates how literature springs to life through the contrasting responses of unique individuals, while helping people both on and off the spectrum to engage more richly with the world.
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When entering therapy, individuals may not be armed with the information they need in order to make progress and see results. Many stop therapy if they don’t feel they are getting anything out of it; others stop if they feel they are being treated differently by others who know they are in therapy. In Choosing Therapy, Ilyana Romanovsky clearly defines various psychological approaches therapists take, the different types of therapies available including long terms versus short term and group versus individual therapy, and ways of overcoming stigma associated with being in counseling. She discusses various psychotherapeutic medications and other questions patients might have about the ways they might address the issues they experience. Helping readers to define goals, understand treatment options, and prepare to do the work of therapy, Romanovsky offers a clear roadmap to those new to treatment, to those returning to treatment, and to those helping others to seek treatment.
A landmark American drama that inspired a classic film and a Broadway revival—featuring an introduction by David Mamet

A blistering character study and an examination of the American melting pot and the judicial system that keeps it in check, Twelve Angry Men holds at its core a deeply patriotic faith in the U.S. legal system. The play centers on Juror Eight, who is at first the sole holdout in an 11-1 guilty vote. Eight sets his sights not on proving the other jurors wrong but rather on getting them to look at the situation in a clear-eyed way not affected by their personal prejudices or biases. Reginald Rose deliberately and carefully peels away the layers of artifice from the men and allows a fuller picture to form of them—and of America, at its best and worst.
 
After the critically acclaimed teleplay aired in 1954, this landmark American drama went on to become a cinematic masterpiece in 1957 starring Henry Fonda, for which Rose wrote the adaptation. More recently, Twelve Angry Men had a successful, and award-winning, run on Broadway.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
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