cover image Creatures of a Day: And Other Tales of Psychotherapy

Creatures of a Day: And Other Tales of Psychotherapy

Irvin D. Yalom. Basic, $25.99 (288p) ISBN 978-0-465-02964-8

Novelist and psychiatrist Yalom (The Spinoza Problem) offers 10 tales from his clients that illuminate the gifts of psychotherapy, particularly the hopeful lessons one can glean from it in the context of aging and death. He steers away from the riddle-like tales of strange human behavior found in comparable books like Stephen Grosz’s The Examined Life, and instead lingers on his patients and his reactions to them. The title, drawn from Marcus Aurelius, hints at the book’s primary concern, which is mortality. Ellie struggles with terminal cancer and wants to be a “pioneer of dying.” Rick, a successful businessman, enjoys a luxurious existence in a retirement community that only underlines the impending end of his life. Despite this focus on death, Yalom also has genuinely inspiring insights to share about the value of therapy, such as his certainty “that if I can create a genuine and caring environment, my patients will find the help they need, often in marvelous ways.” The stories Yalom offers of his patients’ failures and triumphs are frequently moving and will invoke the reader’s empathy. [em]Agent: Sandy Dijkstra, Sandy Dijkstra Literary Agency. (Feb.) [/em]