Memories Of Irv Yalom


I just finished Irv and Marilyn Yalom’s book A Matter of Death and Life (2021) about Marilyn’s death from cancer and Dr. Yalom’s struggle to continue on after. In alternating chapters, Irv and Marilyn write about her decline until death after which Dr. Yalom finishes the book. It’s a beautiful story of life long love and two people who were (and are) able to face death with equanimity because they lived fully and without regrets.

Dr. Yalom has been a hero of mine since I read When Nietzsche Wept (1992) – his novel about the hypothetical psychotherapy of Nietzsche – who suffered from debilitating physical and mental illness – by Dr. Breuer – cofounder of psychoanalysis with Freud – during the Summer of 2003 before I started Philosophy graduate school at UC Davis.

A decade later – having moved back to the Bay Area from Sacramento – I went up to San Francisco with my mother to hear Dr. Yalom read from his newest book The Spinoza Problem (2012). And in 2017 I went to Kepler’s in Menlo Park with a date to hear him speak about his autobiography Becoming Myself (2017). I have admired Dr. Yalom for about 20 years now.

One of his concepts that seems relevant is ripples. Like a stone thrown into a pond that causes ever widening concentric circles or the butterfly effect in which a butterfly flapping its wings somewhere in the world might cause a tornado in another part, our actions ripple out affecting those close to us as well as those far and wide who are then changed in various ways and go on affecting others differently because of our influence and on and on. The positive ripples sent out by Dr. Yalom over a long life of scholarship and therapy have changed the world for the better and in many ways unknown and yet to come. His legacy lives on through all of us he reached and will be relevant as long as men search for wisdom and meaning.

Thank you Dr. Yalom!

Similar Posts