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Zuckerman, J.R. (2018). Becoming Myself, by Irvin D. Yalom, Basic Books, New York, 2017, 343pp.. Am. J. Psychoanal., 78(1):108-111.

(2018). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 78(1):108-111

Becoming Myself, by Irvin D. Yalom, Basic Books, New York, 2017, 343pp.

Review by:
Janet Rivkin Zuckerman, Ph.D.

It is difficult to know where to begin in discussing Irvin Yalom's new memoir, Becoming Myself. The man himself is one of my indisputable psychoanalytic heroes and there is so much to say. But one of the many things I've learned in these pages, is that I am in excellent company! Yalom describes the bundles of appreciative mail he still receives and personally responds to almost every day—each saved in his Gmail folder labeled “Fans.” I will tell you that, in secret, I too have shared email exchanges with Yalom through the years, letting him know just how inspiring and moving I have found his work to be. I have treasured and saved his thoughtful, personal responses in my own folder of special correspondences. But what exactly is it about the man that makes him such a treasured figure to so many?

In echoing Yalom's accent on the analyst's subjectivity, I am happy to tell you why he's been a hero to me. Having grown up with a critically ill mother through my earliest years, I collided early on with matters of life, death and meaning. The fleeting nature of time and its potentially dire impact on our most important relationships, loomed menacingly in my life. My discovery of existential thinkers was thus inevitable and invaluable, as they offered me comfort and witness for my traumatic loss. Yalom was one such figure along my journey. As one of our most prominent teachers of the existential/interpersonal perspective, his Existential Psychotherapy (1980) and Every Day Gets a Little Closer—A Twice Told Psychotherapy (1992), became cherished page-turners for me.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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