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Psychotherapist Irvin D. Yalom probes further into the mysteries of the therapeutic encounter in this entertaining and thoughtful follow-up to his bestselling Love’s Executioner

In six enthralling stories drawn from his own clinical experience, Irvin D. Yalom once again proves himself an intrepid explorer of the human psyche as he guides his patients—and himself—toward transformation. With eloquent detail and sharp-eyed observation, Yalom introduces us to a memorable cast of characters. Drifting through his dreams and trampling through his thoughts are Paula, Yalom’s “courtesan of death”; Myrna, whose eavesdropping gives new meaning to patient confidentiality; Magnolia, into whose ample lap Yalom longs to pour his own sorrows, even as he strives to ease hers; and Momma—ill-tempered, overpowering, and suffocating her son with both love and disapproval. A richly rewarding, almost illicit glimpse into the therapist’s heart and mind, Momma and the Meaning of Life illuminates the unique potential of every human relationship.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “A fascinating commentary on the bond between patient and therapist.”

    Nick Nolte, actor

  • “In every chapter, an epiphany, a tug at the heart, or a gasp of realization. And ‘The Hungarian Cat Curse’ will be read aloud for decades, possibly forever. This isn’t a book, it’s a gift. I only wish that Irvin Yalom lived next door.”

    William Peter Blatty, writer and filmmaker

  • “Yalom can tell a story and tell it so well that it is easy to forget that what one is reading is a distillation of weeks, months, even years of therapeutic work…And Yalom does it with enviable openness and style.”

    Times Literary Supplement

  • “Yalom reveals much more of himself this time around… [His] therapeutic encounters, as recorded here, are often painful crucibles of personal transformation, in which people grow in unexpected ways by releasing reservoirs of guilt, fear, sadness, anger and denial.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Psychiatrist and gifted storyteller Yalom returns with six engaging tales of psychotherapy…Whether dealing with issues raised by his memory of the quintessential Jewish mother or supporting a widow working through her grief, Yalom reveals his thoughts, feelings, and reactions with sensitive honesty.”

    Library Journal

  • “Yalom, psychotherapist and author of When Nietzsche Wept and Lying on the Couch, uses his experiences with patients and his own life challenges to explore the process of psychotherapy and the search for meaning in life…Throughout, Yalom absorbingly recounts the resilience some patients bring to the task of healing themselves and is brutally frank about the limitations of modern medicine.”

    Booklist

  • “A worthy sequel to the author’s bestselling Love’s ExecutionerMomma and the Meaning of Life contains some truly profound observations on death, the sometimes desperate attempts to modify one’s personality so as to live more fully, and other human struggles. These six engrossing narratives are very valuable gleanings from a master therapist’s professional and personal experience.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • “This is a chance to get inside the mind of a brilliant therapist and witness the soul breaking through. Like the first light of dawn, Momma and the Meaning of Life is warm, radiant and revealing.”

    Mark Epstein, author and psychotherapist

  • “Irvin Yalom brings to these splendid tales of psychotherapy his rich experience as a therapist, his broad knowledge of philosophy and literature, and his profound humanity. He draws the reader into his stories with the same skill he uses to engage his patients in therapy.”

    David Spiegel, associate chair of psychiatry at Stanford University and director of the Stanford Center on Stress and Health

  • “These spellbinding tales of pain and of healing transport us into the very core of the therapeutic experience.”

    Maggie Scarf, award-winning author, journalist, and lecturer

  • “Yalom continues to astonish us. Vitality, eloquence, wisdom, courage, and the capacity to listen and learn mark this book indelibly.”

    Leston Havens, psychiatrist and psychotherapist

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About the Author
Author Irvin D. Yalom

Irvin D. Yalom, MD, is an emeritus professor of psychiatry at Stanford University and a psychiatrist in private practice in San Francisco. He is the author of many books, including Love’s Executioner, Theory and Practice in Group Psychotherapy, and When Nietzsche Wept. He lives with his wife in Palo Alto, California.