Autobiographical Note

(My full autobiography "Becoming Myself" is available wherever books are sold)

I was born in Washington, D.C., June 13, 1931, of parents who immigrated from Russia (from a small village named Celtz near the Polish border) shortly after the first world war. Home was the inner city of Washington—a small apartment atop my parents’ grocery store on First and Seaton Street. During my childhood, Washington was a segregated city, and I lived in the midst of a poor, black neighborhood. Life on the streets was often perilous. Indoor reading was my refuge and, twice a week, I made the hazardous bicycle trek to the central library at seventh and K streets to stock up on supplies. 

No counseling or direction was available: my parents had virtually no secular education, never read books and were entirely consumed in the struggle for economic survival. My book choices were capricious, directed in part by the library architecture; the large, centrally placed bookcase on biography caught my attention early, and I spent an entire year going through that bookcase from A (John Adams) to Z (Zoroaster). But it was mainly in fiction where I found a refuge, an alternate, more satisfying world, a source of inspiration and wisdom. Sometime early in life I developed the notion—one which I have never relinquished—that writing a novel is the very finest thing a person can do. 

To the ghetto mentality of my day, career choices for young men were limited or perceived as limited. All of my peers either went into medical school or into business with their fathers. Medical school seemed closer to Tolstoy and Dostoevsky, and I entered upon my medical training already having decided to go into psychiatry. Psychiatry proved (and proves to this day) endlessly intriguing, and I have approached all of my patients with a sense of wonderment at the story that will unfold. I believe that a different therapy must be constructed for each patient because each has a unique story. As the years pass, this attitude moves me farther and farther from the center of professional psychiatry, which is now so fiercely driven by economic forces in precisely opposite directions—namely accurate de-individualizing (symptom-based) diagnosis and uniform, protocol-driven, brief therapy for all. 

My first writings were scientific contributions to professional journals. My first book, The Theory and Practice of Group Psychotherapy has been widely used (seven hundred thousand copies) as a text for training therapists. It has been translated into twelve languages and is now in its fourth edition. My publisher for this book and every one of my subsequent books is Basic Books with whom I have had a long and excellent relationship. Instructors praise my group therapy text because it is based on the best available empirical evidence. I suspect, however, that it owes some of its success to story-telling—to a stream of brief human vignettes running throughout the text. For twenty years I have heard students tell me that it reads like a novel. 

Other texts followed—Existential Psychotherapy (a textbook for a course that did not exist at the time), Inpatient Group Psychotherapy (a guide to leading groups in the inpatient psychiatric ward). Encounter Groups: First Facts, a research monograph that is out of print. Then, in an effort to teach aspects of Existential Therapy I turned to a literary conveyance and in the past several years have written a book of therapy tales (Love's Executioner, Momma and the Meaning of Life - a collection of true and fictionalized tales of therapy) and three teaching novels (When Nietzsche Wept, Lying on the Couch, and The Schopenhauer Cure). 

Though these books have been best sellers to a general audience and have been reviewed often—both favorably and unfavorably—on their literary merit (When Nietzsche Wept won the Commonwealth Gold Medal for best fiction of 1993 and in 2009 was honored by the Vienna Book fair and one hundred thousand free copies distributed to the citizens of Vienna), I intended them as pedagogical works—books of teaching stories and a new genre—the teaching novel. They have been widely translated—each into about fifteen to twenty languages—and have had considerable distribution abroad. When Nietzsche Wept, for example, was on the top of the Israeli best seller list for over four years. An anthology, The Yalom Reader, was published by Basic books at the end of 1997. In addition to key excerpts from each of my other books it contains several new personal essays which provide introductions for mental health professionals to Love’s Executioner, When Nietzsche Wept and Lying on the Couch. A short story about the Hungarian Holocaust, I’m calling the Police, has been published as a book in several languages (German, Turkish, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch).

My wife, Marilyn, received a Ph. D. in comparative literature (French and German) from Johns Hopkins and has had a highly successful career as a university professor and writer. Her many works include Blood Sisters,  A History of the Breast, History of the Wife, The Birth of The Chess Queen and (together with my son Reid Yalom) The American Resting Place. My four children, all living in the San Francisco Bay area, have chosen a variety of careers— medicine, photography, creative writing, theater directing, clinical psychology. Eight grandchildren and counting...

Curriculum Vitae


1960 - Phipps Clinic, Johns Hopkins Hospital, Residency
1957 - Mount Sinai Hospital, New York, Internship
1956 - Boston University School of Medicine, Doctor of Medicine
1952 - George Washington University, Washington, D.C. Bachelor of Arts

License Certification

Licensed to practice medicine in Hawaii and California (G6165)
Diplomate American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, Certified Psychiatry, 1964


2014 - Prix Des Lecteurs for The Spinoza Problem (French Translation)
2002 - Oscar Pfister Award for contributions to Religion and Psychiatry, The American Psychiatric Association
1993 - Best Novel of 1992, Commonwealth Club Gold Medal Award for Fiction
1988 - Fellowship Award Rockefeller Foundation, Bellagio, Italy
1977 - Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, Palo Alto, California ??award name??
1976 - Foundation's Fund Award for research in psychiatry, American Psychiatric Association
1974 - Edward Strecker Award for significant contribution to the field of psychiatry patient care, Institute of the Pennsylvania Hospital
1952 - Phi Beta Kappa

Professional Experience

1994-Present: Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry (Stanford University School of Medicine)

1984-1994: Consultant Inpatient and Outpatient Units (Stanford University Medical Center)

1981-1984: Medical Director (Stanford University Hospital, Psychiatric Inpatient Unit)

1977-1978: Fellow (The Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, Palo Alto, California)

1973-1994: Professor of Psychiatry (Stanford University School of Medicine)

1968-1973: Associate Professor of Psychiatry, (with tenure??) (Stanford University School of Medicine)

1973-1988: Assistant Director (Adult Psychiatry Clinic, Stanford University School of Medicine)

1963-1968: Assistant Professor of Psychiatry (Stanford University School of Medicine)

1962-1963: Instructor in Psychiatry (Stanford University School of Medicine)

1960-1962: Captain (U.S. Army Tripler General Hospital, Honolulu, Hawaii)

1959-1960: Consultant (The Patuxent Institution, Jessup, Maryland)

1957-1960: Psychiatric Residency (Henry Phipps Clinic, Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, Maryland)

1956-1957: Rotating Internship (Mount Sinai Hospital, New York, New York)


Yalom, I.D., The Theory and Practice of Group Psychotherapy. New York: Basic Books, 1970.

Lieberman, M.A., Yalom, I.D., Miles, M.B., Encounter Groups: First Facts. New York: Basic Books, 1973.

Yalom, I.D., Elkins, Ginny, Everyday Gets a Little Closer. New York: Basic Books, 1974.

Yalom, I.D., The Theory and Practice of Group Psychotherapy. New York: Second edition, Basic Books, 1975.

Yalom, I.D., Existential Psychotherapy. New York: Basic Books, 1980.

Yalom, I.D., Inpatient Group Psychotherapy. New York: Basic Books, 1983.

Yalom, I.D., The Theory and Practice of Group Psychotherapy, Third Edition. New York: Basic Books, 1985.

Yalom, I.D., Love's Executioner and Other Tales of Psychotherapy. New York: Basic Books, 1989. Paperback Harper Collins, 1990.

Yalom, I.D., Vinogradov, S., Concise Guide to Group Psychotherapy. American Psychiatric Press, Inc. Washington, D.C., 1989.

Yalom, I.D., When Nietzsche Wept. New York: Basic Books/Harper, 1991. Paperback: arper Collins, 1992 (Commonwealth Club of California Gold Medal for best fiction of 1993.

Yalom, I.D., Lying on the Couch, Basic Books, 1996, New York.

Yalom, I.D., The Yalom Reader, Basic Books, 1998, New York.

Yalom, I.D., Momma and the Meaning of Life, Basic Books, 1999, New York.

Yalom, I.D., The Gift of Therapy, HarperCollins Publishers, 2002, New York.

Yalom, I.D., The Schopenhauer Cure, HarperCollins Publishers, 2005, New York.

Yalom, I.D., The Theory and Practice of Group Psychotherapy, Fifth Edition, Basic Books, May, 2005, New York.

Yalom, I.D., Staring at the Sun, Jossey-Bass/Wiley, New York 2008.

Yalom, I.D., Robert Berger, I'm Calling the Police, Published in Greece, Turkey, Germany, Brazil, Argentina, Holland, France, Hungary and United States (ebook only) 2009

Yalom, I.D., The Spinoza Problem, Basic Books, 2012, New York

Yalom, I.D., Creatures of a Day, Basic Books, 2015, New York

Yalom, I.D., Becoming Myself, Basic Books, 2017, New York

Yalom, I.D., The Theory and Practice of Group Psychotherapy, Sixth Edition, 2019. New York: Basic Books.


Understanding Group therapy. Three Volume, Five Tape Video Series (Volume One—outpatient groups; Volume Two—inpatient groups; Volume Three—interview). Brooks Cole Publishing Pacific Grove, Ca. Distributed by Victor Yalom through

The Gift of Therapy, an Interview with Irvin Yalom, M.D. © 2002, Psychotherapist Resources. Distributed by Victor Yalom through

Irvin Yalom: Live Case Consultation
© 2005, Psychotherapist Resources. Distributed by Victor Yalom through


“Encounter Groups and Psychiatry,” Report of the American Psychiatric Association Task Force on Recent Developments in the Use of Small Groups, Chairman, Washington, D.C., American Psychiatric Association, April, 1970.

“Existential Factors in Group Therapy,” Strecker Monograph Series, No. XI, 1974.

Articles, Chapters

  1. Yalom, I. “Lysergic acid diethylamide,” Maryland State Medical Journal, 8:14-17, 1959.

  2. Yalom, I. “Aggression and forbiddenness in voyeurism,” Archives of General Psychiatry, 3:305-319, 1960.

  3. Yalom, I. “Organic brain diseases of senility,” Maryland State Medical Journal, December, 1960.

  4. Yalom, I. “Group therapy of Incarcerated Sexual Deviants,” Journal of Nerve and Mental Disorders, 132:158-170, 1961.

  5. Jackson, D. and Yalom, I. “Family homeostasis and patient changes,” Current Psychiatric Therapies, IV:155-165, 1964.

  6. Yalom, I. “Planter warts: a case study,” Journal of Nerve and Mental Disorders, 1964.

  7. Yalom, I. “Observation on mourning,” The New Physician, 13:80-81, 1964.

  8. Yalom, I. and Moos, R. “The use of small interactional groups in the teaching of psychiatry,” International Journal of Group Psychotherapy, 15:242-250, 1965.

  9. Jackson, D. and Yalom, I. “Conjoint family therapy as an aid to intensive psychotherapy,” in Burton, A. (Ed.) Modern Psychotherapeutic Practice, Palo Alto, CA: Science and Behavior Books, Inc., pp. 81-99, 1965.

  10. Yalom, I. “Problems of neophyte group therapists,” International Journal of Social Psychiatry, 7:52-59, 1966.

  11. Yalom, I. “A study of group therapy dropouts,” Archives of General Psychiatry, 14:393-414, 1966.

  12. Yalom, I. and Handlon, J. “The use of multiple therapists in the teaching of psychiatric residents,” Journal of Nerve and Mental Disorders, 141:684-692, 1966.

  13. Moos, R. and Yalom, I. “Medical students attitudes toward psychiatry and psychiatrists,” Mental Hygiene, 50:246-256, 1966.

  14. Yalom, I. and Rand, K. “Compatibility and cohesiveness in therapy groups,” Archives of General Psychiatry, 15:267-275, 1966.

  15. Jackson, D. and Yalom, I. “Family research on the problem of ulcerative colitis,” Archives of General Psychiatry, 15:410-418, 1966.

  16. Yalom, I. “Some aspects of symptom removal,” Short Circuit, 1, 1966.

  17. Yalom, I., Houts, P., Zimerberg, S., and Rand, K. “Prediction in improvement in group therapy: an exploratory study,” Archives of General Psychiatry, 17:159-169, 1967.

  18. Yalom, I., Houts, P., Newell, G., and Rand, K. “Preparation of patients for group therapy: a controlled study,” Archives of General Psychiatry, 17:416-427, 1967.

  19. Hamburg, D., Moos, R., and Yalom, I. “Studies of premenstrual and postpartum distress,” in Michael, R. (Ed.) Endocrinology and Human Behavior, New York: Oxford University Press, pp. 94-116, 1968.

  20. Yalom, I., Lunde, D., Moos, R., and Hamburg, D. “Postpartum blues syndrome: a description and related variables,” Archives of General Psychiatry, 18:16-27, 1968.

  21. Yalom, I. and Terrazas, F. “Group therapy for psychotic elderly patients,” American Journal of Nursing, August 1968, 1960-1964.

  22. Ebersole, G., Leiderman, P., and Yalom, I. “Training the non-professional group therapist: a controlled study,” Journal of Nervous Mental Disorders, 149:294-302, 1969.

  23. Moos, R., Kopell, B., Melges, F., Yalom, I., Lunde, D., Clayton, R., and Hamburg, D. “Fluctuations in symptoms and moods during the menstrual cycle,” Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 13:37-44, 1969.

  24. Sklar, A., Yalom, I., Zimerberg, S., and Newell, G. “Time-extended group therapy: a controlled study,” Comparative Group Studies, November 1970, 373-386.

  25. Lieberman, M., Yalom, I., and Miles, M. “The group experience project: a comparison of ten encounter technologies,” in L. Blank, M. Gottsegen, G. Gottsegen (Eds.) Encounter, New York: The MacMillan Company, 1971.

  26. Yalom, I. and Yalom, M., Hemingway: “A Psychiatric View,” Archives of General Psychiatry, 24:485-494, 1971.

  27. Yalom, I. “A study of encounter group casualties,” Archives of General Psychiatry, 25:16-30, 1971.

  28. Leiberman, M., Yalom, I., and Miles, M. “Impact on participants,” New Perspectives on Encounter Groups, Solomon and Berzon, Jossey-Bass, Inc., pp. 119-170, 1972.

  29. Yalom, I., and Moffat, S. “Instant intimacy,” Encyclopedia Britannica, pp. 408-423, Britannica Yearbook of Science and the Future, 1972, Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc.

  30. Lieberman, M., Yalom, I., and Miles, M. “The impact of encounter groups on participants: some preliminary findings,” The Journal of Applied Behavioral Sciences, 8:1, 1972.

  31. Costell, Ronald, M., and Yalom, I. “The institutional treatment of sex offenders,” in Resnik and Wolfgang (Eds.) Treatment of the Sexual Offender, New York: Little, Brown and Co., 1972.

  32. Yalom, I. “The future of group therapy,” in Hamburg and Brodie (Eds.) The American Handbook of Psychiatry, Vol 6, New York: Basic Books, 1973.

  33. Yalom, I., Green, R., and Fisk, N. “Intrauterine female hormone exposure and psychosexual development in human males,” Archives of General Psychiatry, Vol 28, 1973.

  34. Yalom, I. “Freud, group psychology and group psychotherapy,” International Journal of Group Psychotherapy, Vol XXIV, No. 1, January 1974.

  35. Yalom, I. “Group therapy and alcoholism,” Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 233:85-103, 1974.

  36. Yalom, I., Brown, S., and Bloch, S. “The written summary as a group psychotherapy technique,” Archives of General Psychiatry, 32:605-613, 1975.

  37. Yalom, I. “Using the here-and-now in group therapy,” Proceedings of the Third Annual Conference of the Group Therapy Department, Washington Square Institute for Psychotherapy and Mental Health, May 1976.

  38. Bloch, S., Bond, G., Qualls, B., Yalom, I., and Zimmerman, E. “Patients expectations of therapeutic improvement and their outcomes,” American Journal of Psychiatry, 133:12, December 1976, pp. 1457-1460.

  39. Yalom, I., Bond, G., Bloch, S., Zimmerman, E., and Friedmand, L. “The impact of a weekend group experience on individual therapy,” Archives of General Psychiatry, Vol 34, April 1977, pp. 399-415.

  40. Yalom, I. “Existential factors in group psychotherapy,” in O. L. McCabe (Ed.) Changing Human Behavior: Current Therapies and Future Directions, Grune & Stratton, September 1977.

  41. Bloch, S., Bond, G., Qualls, B., Yalom, I., and Zimmerman, E. “The evaluation of outcome in psychotherapy by independent judges: a new approach,” British Journal of Psychiatry, 131:410-414, 1977.

  42. Yalom, I., and Greaves, C. “Group therapy with the terminally ill,” American Journal of Psychiatry, 134:4, April 1977, pp. 396-400.

  43. Brown, S., and Yalom, I. “Interactional group therapy with alcoholics,” Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 38:3, March 1977, pp. 426-456.

  44. Spiegel, D., and Yalom, I. “A support group for dying patients,” International Journal of Group Psychotherapy, 28:2, April 1978.

  45. Yalom, I., Bloch, S., Bond, G., Zimmerman, E., and Qualls, B. “Alcoholics in interactional group therapy: an outcome study,” Archives of General Psychiatry, 35:419-425, April 1978.

  46. Bond, G., Bloch, S., Yalom, I., Zimmerman, E., and Qualls, B. “The evaluation of a ‘Target problem’ approach to outcome measurement,” Psychotherapy, Theory, Research and Practice, 16:1, Spring 1979.

  47. Spiegel, D., Bloom, J., and Yalom, I. “Group support for metastatic cancer patients: a randomized prospective outcome study,” Archives of General Psychiatry, 38:527-534, May 1981.

  48. Finkelstein, P., Wenegrat, B., and Yalom, I. “Large group awareness training,” in Annual Review of Psychology, 33:515-539, 1982.

  49. May, R., and Yalom, I. “Existential psychotherapy,” in R. Corsini (Ed.),” Current Psychotherapies, Third edition, 1985.

  50. Leszcz, M., Yalom, I., and Norden, M. “The value of inpatient group psychotherapy and therapeutic process: patients perceptions,” International Journal of Group Psychotherapy, Vol 35, July 1985.

  51. Yalom, I. “Interpersonal learning,” in American Psychiatric Association Annual Review: Vol V American Psychiatric Press, Inc., 1986.

  52. Yalom, I.D., and Vinogradov, S. “Bereavement groups: techniques and themes,” International Journal of Group Psychotherapy, 38:4, October 1988.

  53. Yalom, I., and Vinogradov, S. “Self-disclosure in group therapy,” Self-disclosure in the Therapeutic Relationship ed. by G. Stricker and M. Fisher, Plenum Press, N.Y. 1990.

  54. Yalom, I.D., and Yalom, V. “Brief Interactional group psychotherapy,” Annals of Psychiatry, 1990.

  55. Yalom, I.D., and Matano, R. “Chemical dependency and interactional group therapy: a synthesis,” International Journal of Group Psychotherapy, July 1991 p269-295.

  56. Yalom, I.D., and Lieberman, M. “Bereavement and heightened existential awareness,” Psychiatry 1992.

  57. Lieberman, M., and Yalom, I.D. “Brief psychotherapy for the spousally bereaved: A Controlled Study,” International Journal of Group Psychotherapy, vol 42, Jan 1992.

  58. Luby, J., and Yalom, I.D. “Group therapy of depressive disorders,” E.S. Paykel (Ed.) Handbook of Affective Disorders:2E, Guilford Press, Churchill-Livingstone, June, 1992.

  59. Yalom, I., and Vinogradov, S. “Group therapy,” in Textbook of Psychiatry, American Psychiatric Press, (Hales, Yudofsky, and Talbot, eds) Wash D.C. 2nd ed. 1994.

  60. Rogers, C., A Way of Being, Houghton Mifflin (1995), Introduction by Irvin D. Yalom.

  61. Yalom, I., and Vinogradov, S. “Group therapy,” in Synopsis of Psychiatry, American Psychiatric Press, Wash. D.C. 1996 page 1063-1097.

  62. Rabinowitz, .I, Inside Therapy, St. Martins Press (1998), Introduction by Irvin D. Yalom.

  63. Breuer, J. and Freud, S., Studies in Hysteria, Basic Books (2000), Introduction by Irvin D. Yalom.