Jousting with magic

Psychiatrist and psychotherapist Irvin Yalom discusses some of the thinking behind his therapeutic approach on p154 of Love’s Executioner and Other Tales of Psychotherapy (ISBN 0140128468).

Yalom is known for his work in developing existential psychotherapy, group therapy and his engaging and exciting books and novels on the psychotherapeutic process.

To my mind “good” therapy (which I equate with deep, or penetrating, therapy, not with efficient or even, I am pained to say, helpful therapy) conducted with a “good” patient is at bottom a truth-seeking venture. My quarry when I was a novitiate was the truth of the past, to trace all of life’s coordinates and, thereby, to locate and to explain a person’s current life, pathology, motivation and actions.

I used to be so sure. What arrogance! And now what kind of truth was I stalking? I think my quarry is illusion. I war against magic. I believe that, though illusion often cheers and comforts, it ultimately and invariably weakens and constricts the spirit.

But there is timing and judgement. Never take away anything if you have nothing better to offer. Beware of stripping a patient who can’t bear the chill of reality. And don’t exhaust yourself by jousting with religious magic: you’re no match for it.

Link to Irvin Yalom’s website (thanks Annie!).

One Comment

  1. Mark
    Posted March 28, 2014 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    Psychotherapy is a treatment done to relax a patient’s mind.I too agree with Mr.Yalom that we should not hurt the feelings of the patient.Thanks for sharing this useful piece of information.


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