Irvin D. Yalom

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Irvin D. Yalom
Irvin D. Yalom
Irvin David Yalom

(1931-06-13) June 13, 1931 (age 89)
Alma mater George Washington University
Spouse(s) Marilyn Yalom
Scientific career
Fields Psychotherapy
Institutions Stanford University
Influences Baruch Spinoza
Arthur Schopenhauer

Otto Rank

Rollo May

Irvin David Yalom ( /ˈɜːrvɪnˈjæləm/ ; born 13 June 1931) is an American existential psychiatrist who is emeritus professor of psychiatry at Stanford University, as well as author of both fiction and nonfiction.


Early life

Yalom was born in Washington, D.C. [1] About fifteen years prior to his birth in the United States, Yalom's Jewish parents emigrated from Russia (though their country of origin was Poland) and eventually opened a Washington DC grocery store. Yalom spent much of his childhood reading books in the family home above the grocery store and in a local library. After graduating from high school, he attended George Washington University and then Boston University School of Medicine.


After graduating with a BA from George Washington University in 1952 and a Doctor of Medicine from Boston University School of Medicine in 1956 he went on to complete his internship at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York and his residency at the Phipps Clinic of Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore and completed his training in 1960. After two years of Army service at Tripler General Hospital in Honolulu, Yalom began his academic career at Stanford University. He was appointed to the faculty in 1963 and promoted over the following years, being granted tenure in 1968. Soon after this period he made some of his most lasting contributions by teaching about group psychotherapy and developing his model of existential psychotherapy.

His writing on existential psychology centers on what he refers to as the four "givens" of the human condition: isolation, meaninglessness, mortality and freedom, and discusses ways in which the human person can respond to these concerns either in a functional or dysfunctional fashion.

In 1970, Yalom published The Theory and Practice of Group Psychotherapy, speaking about the research literature around group psychotherapy and the social psychology of small group behavior. This work explores how individuals function in a group context, and how members of group therapy gain from his participation group. [2]

In addition to his scholarly, non-fiction writing, Yalom has produced a number of novels and also experimented with writing techniques. In Every Day Gets a Little Closer Yalom invited a patient to co-write about the experience of therapy. The book has two distinct voices which are looking at the same experience in alternating sections. Yalom's works have been used as collegiate textbooks and standard reading for psychology students. His new and unique view of the patient/client relationship has been added to curriculum in psychology programs at such schools as John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City.

Yalom has continued to maintain a part-time private practice and has authored a number of video documentaries on therapeutic techniques. Yalom is also featured in the 2003 documentary Flight from Death , a film that investigates the relationship of human violence to fear of death, as related to subconscious influences. The Irvin D. Yalom Institute of Psychotherapy, which he co-directs with Professor Ruthellen Josselson, works to advance Yalom's approach to psychotherapy. This unique combination of integrating more philosophy into the psychotherapy can be considered as psychosophy.

Many psychiatrists at the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford consider Yalom to be a seminal influence on their own work. Some of them include Jose R. Maldonado, Vidushi Savant and Laura Roberts.

He was married to author and historian Marilyn Yalom, who died in November, 2019. Their four children are: Eve, a gynecologist, Reid, a photographer, Victor, a psychologist and entrepreneur and Ben, a theater director.



Novels and stories



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  1. Irvin D. Yalom MD: Autobiographical Note Archived 2016-03-04 at the Wayback Machine
  2. "Review of The theory and practice of group psychotherapy". APA PsychNet.
  3. Previous Strecker Award Recipients
  4. Rockefeller Foundation: The Mix Residents
  5. The Commonwealth Club of California: The California Book Awards Winners 1931 - 2012
  6. Oskar Pfister Award: Past Winners
  7. Irvin D. Yalom, MD: Religion and Psychiatry
  8. Sigmund Freud Award: Award Winners
  9. Joseph Coates: Placing Nietzsche At The Dawn of Psychoanalysis, Chicago Tribune, 26 July 1992
  10. Excerpt The Schopenhauer Cure by
  11. Judith Viorst: The Schopenhauer Cure, The Washington Post, 23 February 2005
  12. Irvin D. Yalom MD, Robert Berger MD: I´m calling the police! A Tale of Regression and Recovery by
  13. Ron Charles: The Spinoza Problem, The Washington Post, 22 February 2012
  14. Excerpt The Gift of Therapy by
  15. Excerpt Staring At the Sun: Overcoming the Dread of Death by
  16. Nathan A. Heflick: Overcoming the Terror of Death, Psychologie Today/The Big Questions, 29 April 2011

See also

You can find following text in Dr. Yalom’s Facebook about the music: An eminent Iranian composer, Pezhman Mosleh, has honored me with this gift: a musical composition and video arrangement. [1]

  1. Yalom, Irvin. "On the Threshold". Irvin D. Yalom. Retrieved 23 September 2018.