Love’s Executioner

“I do not like to work with patients who are in love. Perhaps it is because of envy I, too, crave enchantment. Perhaps it is because love and psychotherapy are fundamentally incompatible. The good therapist fights darkness and seeks illumination, while romantic love is sustained by mystery and crumbles upon inspection. I hate to be love’s executioner.” Irvin Yalom, Love's Executioner

Mar 11, 2024 - 13:00
Mar 11, 2024 - 22:54
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Love’s Executioner
Love’s Executioner

One of the most important issues during therapy is the dynamics in the relationship with the client. The relationships established with the client in therapy are both very sensitive and limited in many respects due to ethical concerns. In therapy, an environment should be created for the client in which he can express himself with his whole self, but at the same time, the patient-and-client relationship should be approached professionally within the limits.

Irvin Yalom's book, Love's Executioner, is a work that focuses on the dynamics between the client and the person being consulted in therapy. There are ten different people and their stories in this work. Many studies have been conducted on Yalom's existential psychology and the meaning of life. Those that cannot be treated have been studied with their properties and especially with their cancer characteristics. His constant death and mourning have been his indispensable elements. Yalom therapy was not considered to be the focus of subconscious and repressed traumas, as Freud suggested, but instead, the insane pain of existence to which the therapy was applied was suggested.

According to Irvin Yalom, there are four true words that cannot be changed. These are the inevitability of death, our freedom to shape our lives with our own will, our ultimate loneliness, and the existence of life without any apparent length. During his therapies, Yalom's work with his patients was considered an art form. For him, they were a unique new concept that he was consulted about. In his relationships with his patients, he is both close and distant from them. For this reason, he achieved success in healing them by providing a comfortable environment of therapy without leaving the center of the ethical framework.

There are interesting stories about Love's Executioner with ten patients. It serves as a metaphor to express how psychotherapists should be with their patients in therapy, from which the first storybook comes. Psychotherapists should never form friendships or romantic relationships with their clients. However, Thelma in the first story has a passionate love for her previous therapist. Irvin Yalom decides to take on him despite knowing this from afar. One of the most striking points is that Irvin Yalom sees himself as a humanist and a therapist who expresses himself in the language of love, and for this reason, he does not like to work with those who are in love, because he, too, is under the spell of love. However, at the end of the day, Yalom never moves away from the professional approach and approaches professionalism almost like an art.

“Though these tales of psychotherapy abound with the words patient and therapist, do not be misled by such terms: these are everyman, everywoman stories. Patienthood is ubiquitous; the assumption of the label is largely arbitrary and often dependent more on cultural, educational, and economic factors than on the severity of pathology. Since therapists, no less than patients, must confront these givens of existence, the professional posture of disinterested objectivity, so necessary to the scientific method, is inappropriate. We psychotherapists simply cannot cluck with sympathy and exhort patients to struggle resolutely with their problems.  We cannot say to them you and your problems because our life, our existence, will always be riveted to death, love to loss, freedom to fear, and growth to separation. We are, all of us, in this together.”
Irvin Yalom, Love’s Executioner

Yalom, I. D. (1989). Love's executioner: And other tales

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Meltem Pazar Odtü Kuzey Kıbrıs Kampüsünde 4.sınıf Psikoloji öğrencisiyim. Sosyal psikoloji, nöropsikoloji ve felsefe ilgi alanlarım arasında. Bu konular üzerine araştırma ve okuma yapmaktan keyif alıyorum. En sevdiğim hobim kitap okumak. Her daim yeni bilgiler edinmeyi ve öğrenmeyi seviyorum.