Saturday, January 30, 2016

The patients of a writing psychiatrist

[V]irtually every one of my patients comes to me having read something I've written; that was the reason they came to me. My patients like the human approach that I take, rather than a technical or analytic or more disinterested approach. As for how peole feel being written about, that's a different question. In Love's Executioner, for example, I received written permission from each patient and showed them early drafts and made certain they were satisfied with the degree of disguise. I disguised the characters so deeply they would not recognize themselves. I changed their sex, their race, everything. But the story was still a true story—the story itself, what transpired between the characters, was entirely true. After that book, I continued to use ideas that were stimulated by my clinical work but did not tell the story of a patient. When I see a patient in a therapy session, very often ideas come. Not exactly the patient's story, but ideas. None of my patients are really troubled by the idea that some part of what they say might be in a book in the future. Some have expressed the very opposite feeling—the fear that they would not be interesting enough to write about.
"An Interview with Irvin D. Yalom" in Irvin D. Yalom & Robert L. Brent, I'm Calling the Police (New York: Basic Books, 2011)

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