March 2

Review: “The Schopenhauer Cure”

Posted by William Berry | Filed under Blog, Reviews | 5 Comments

Special thanks to the editor of this review.

Special thanks to the editor of this review.

Most who have taken a psychology theories class in college have heard of therapist Irvin Yalom. He is one of the leading writers on Existential Therapy. His book “The Theory and Practice of Group Psychotherapy” is owned (because it is required reading) by every therapist I know with a graduate degree. Not only is Yalom the master therapist that I most respect but he’s become one of my favorite authors, and more so after reading his fictional novel, The Schopenhauer Cure.
The Schopenhauer Cure centers on a therapist that finds out he’s terminally ill and so begins his quest to obtain the answers that will impart the meaning of his life and the need to continue his work until the end. He seeks out past patients, hoping they will provide him affirmation that what he did for them had mattered eventually, even though it had not at the time. After reconnecting with a patient he had treated for years but who did not improve, the two begin to build on a renewed professional relationship.
Alternating chapters integrate the story of the German philosopher, Arthur Schopenhauer, into a seamless narrative that relates back to the therapist and the group he is counseling. Schopenhauer’s intelligent and articulate musings, while pessimistic, educate the reader and allow insight into one of the members. With the therapist’s approaching death one processes this inevitable occurrence and the experiences one might expect as life slips quickly away. With a spattering of Buddhist philosophy Yalom’s literary style has meshed the works of these great thinkers into a glimpse of the lives of individual group patients; to showcase group therapy work at its best. It is a totally thought provoking, entertaining and engaging read.
I am an existential therapist, I council groups and I basically adhere to the Buddhist philosophy so this book directly related to what I love. I generally don’t read fiction novels, sticking more to the academic, so I’m uncertain if there would be appeal to a wider audience. However, The Schopenhauer Cure does seem to offer all the elements that make a great peruse; a storyline that touches on the tense and sometimes heartbreaking fragility of the human psyche, believable situations, and touching moments as relationships are explored. Additionally the book was recommended to me by a client who studies literature. I found the book engrossing and would particularly recommend it to my fellow therapists who would enjoy seeing our chosen career portrayed in fictional literature. And I would endorse it for anyone that has even a remedial interest in philosophy and appreciation for authors that can spin a tale with characters you’ll find yourself caring for.

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010 at 10:35 AM and is filed under Blog, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

5 Responses to “Review: “The Schopenhauer Cure””

  1. Ursula on March 2nd, 2010 at 12:59 PM

    Thanks for the heads up; although this book sounds too literary for me, i’ll pick it up and give it a skim: i am interested in how the Schopenhauer narrative plays out. Tangentially, i find the artwork on the cover exquisite and unexpected.

  2. William Berry on March 2nd, 2010 at 9:20 PM

    Too Literary? What does that even mean for you?
    It really an easy read and enjoyable, and reflects group therapy at its best. You’ll probably enjoy it.
    As for the cover, there is a different one, maybe an older version, of a guy with no head in a suit. Not sure about the artwork.

  3. Ursula on March 2nd, 2010 at 10:26 PM

    What i was trying to convey with the phrase ‘too literary’ was that I myself do not like reading fiction.

  4. Sabrina on March 4th, 2010 at 11:08 PM

    If I’m not mistaken, the artwork is by Klimt.

  5. William Berry on March 8th, 2010 at 3:34 PM

    I am very similar, and do not, in fact, read fiction unless it comes highly recommended and fits into the categories of psychology or spirituality. This book fits the former.

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