Lying on the Couch

A provocative exploration of the unusual relationships three therapists form with their patients.


From the highly respected psychotherapist and best-selling author of Love’s Executioner and When Nietzsche Wept comes this long-awaited second novel, an ingenious blending of psychological insight and fictional invention.

It is the “twilight of the shrinks” disciples of Freud and Jung sandbag against the rising tide of new age therapies and wring their hands over the unreliable narratives of patients who “lie” on the couch. Managed health care threatens the very future of practice. The contemporary therapist has much to worry about: patients who seduce their therapists with money, sex, fanatical devotion - and all the other deadly sins in a game of musical chairs around the seat of power in the therapeutic session.

In a daring spin on his lifelong devotion to chart the inner lives of patients in his intimate case histories, Dr.Yalom now turns the tables on the other half of the therapeutic relationship - the therapists themselves. Meet Seymour, an older therapist from an age of secrets, who “interprets” the boundaries of sexual propriety. Or Marshal, haunted in his own obsessive-compulsive behaviours, uncertain of the role of money in his relationship with patients. And finally there is Ernest Lash, who, saved ultimately by his sincere desire to help people, risks a totally open, authentic relationship with a patient and assumes that to be healing in and of itself. Their stories are rendered here with great affection and ruthless recognition.

Readers have turned to Dr. Yalom’s writing over and over for knowledge, insight, and a tantalizing, almost illicit look behind the objective gaze of a psychotherapist, to taste the forbidden fruit of what a therapist might really be thinking during a therapy session. In Lying on the Couch, the reader is seated ringside the nastiest of power plays between therapists and patients and moved by a resolution of surprising humanity and redemptive faith.


Los Angeles Times

"If Freud or Jung had set out to write a psychological thriller, I doubt that either one could have come up with a yarn as taut and telling as Lying on the Couch, a dazzling psychiatric whodunit by one of the leading theorists and practitioners of psychotherapy in our own times."

New York Times

“Lying on the couch raises important questions about truth-telling on both sides of the couch.”

Read all endorsements


Read all reviews