Momma and the Meaning of Life

"A beautifully wrought tale of a therapy group’s final year and a moving debate about the end of life."—Kirkus Reviews


As the public grows disillusioned with therapeutic quick fixes, people are looking for a deeper psychotherapeutic experience to make life more meaningful and satisfying. What really happens in therapy? What promises and perils does it hold for them? No one writes about therapy – or indeed the dilemmas of the human condition – with more acuity, style, and heart than Irvin Yalom. Here he combines the storytelling skills so widely praised in Love's Executioner with the wisdom of the compassionate and fully engaged psychotherapist. In these six compelling tales of therapy, Yalom introduces us to an unforgettable cast of characters: Paula, who faces death and stares it down; Magnolia, into whose ample lap Yalom longs to pour his own sorrows; Irene, who learns to seek out anger and plunge into it. And there's Momma, old-fashioned, ill-tempered, who drifts into Yalom's dreams and tramples through his thoughts. At once wildly entertaining and deeply thoughtful, Momma and the Meaning of Life is a work of rare insight and imagination.


Kirkus Reviews

"Momma and the Meaning of Life” contains some truly profound observations on death, the sometimes desperate attempts to modify one’s personality so as to live more fully, and other human struggles…"

Maggie Scarf

“These spellbinding tales of pain and of healing transport us into the very cores of the therapeutic experience.”

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Are these six psychotherapy tales true? Or fictional? The first story (Momma and the Meaning of Life) is a true autobiographical fantasy (that is, the dream and the events in the story are true, the precise conversation a fantasy), the next three (Southern Comfort, Seven Advanced Lessons, Travels with Paula) are pure nonfiction flecked only with fiction to conceal the patients’ identity, and the final two (Double Exposure and The Hungarian Catcurse) contain a nonfictional nucleus around …

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