Despair is the price one pays for self-awareness. Look deeply into life, and you'll always find despair.
It is wrong to bear children out of need, wrong to use a child to alleviate loneliness, wrong to provide purpose in life by reproducing another copy of oneself. It is wrong also to seek immortality by spewing one's germ into the future as though sperm contains your consciousness!
The freedom of an unscheduled afternoon brought confusion rather than joy. Julius had always been focused. When he was not seeing patients, other important projects and activities-writing, teaching, tennis, research-clamored for his attention. But today nothing seemed important. He suspected that nothing had ever been important, that his mind had arbitrarily imbued projects with importance and then cunningly covered its traces. Today he saw through the ruse of a lifetime. Today there was nothing important to do, and he ambled aimlessly down Union Street.
I think my quarry is illusion. I war against magic. I believe that, though illusion often cheers and comforts, it ultimately and invariably weakens and constricts the spirit.
Credinta, oricat de pasionata, de pura, de arzatoare, nu spune absolut nimic despre realitatea existentei lui Dumnezeu
Religion has everything on its side: revelation, prophecies, government protection, the highest dignity and eminence...and more than this, the invaluable prerogative of being allowed to imprint its doctrines on the mind at a tender age of childhood, whereby they become almost innate ideas.
Why does the same book elicit such a range of responses? There must be something in the particular reader that leaps out to embrace the book. His life, his psychology, his image of himself. There must be something lurking deep in the mind—or, as this Freud says, the unconscious—that causes a particular reader to fall in love with a particular writer.
Spinoza was the supreme rationalist. He saw an endless stream of causality in the world. For him there is no such entity as will or will power. Nothing happens capriciously. Everything is caused by something prior, and the more we devote ourselves to the understanding of this causative network, the more free we become. ... I'm sure he would have said that you are subject to passions that are driven by inadequate ideas rather than by the ideas that flow from a true quest for understanding the nature of reality. ... He states explicitly that a passion ceases to be a passion as soon as we form a more clear and distinct idea of it--that is, the causative nexus underlying the passion. p.269
Some day soon, perhaps in forty years, there will be no one alive who has ever known me. That's when I will be truly dead - when I exist in no one's memory. I thought a lot about how someone very old is the last living individual to have known some person or cluster of people. When that person dies, the whole cluster dies,too, vanishes from the living memory. I wonder who that person will be for me. Whose death will make me truly dead?
Death anxiety is the mother of all religions, which, in one way or another, attempt to temper the anguish of our finitude.
I explain to my patients that abused children often find it hard to disentangle themselves from their dysfunctional families, whereas children grow away from good, loving parents with far less conflict. After all, isn't that the task of a good parent, to enable the child to leave home?
I always imagined that you might write something about me. I wanted to leave an imprint on your life. I don’t want to be “just another patient”. I wanted to be “special”. I want to be something, anything. I feel like nothing, no one. If I left an imprint on your life, maybe I would be someone, someone you wouldn’t forget. I’d exist then. (Marge’s letter to Yalom)
Translation error is compounded by bias error. We distort others by forcing into them our preferred ideas and gestalts, a process Proust beautifully describes: We pack the physical outline of the creature we see with all the ideas we already formed about him, and in the complete picture of him which we compose in our minds, these ideas have certainly the principal place. In the end they come to fill out so completely the curve of his cheeks, to follow so exactly the line of his nose, they blend so harmoniously in the sound of his voice that these seem to be no more than a transparent envelope, so that each time we see the face or hear the voice it is our own ideas of him which we recognize and to which we listen.
More than death, one fears the utter isolation that accompanies it. We try to go through life two by two, but each one of us must die alone- no one can die our death with us or for us. The shunning of the dying by the living prefigures final absolute abandonment
Upon learning that her cancer had spread to her spine, Paula prepared her thirteen year-old son for her death by writing him a letter of farewell that moved me to years. In her final paragraph she reminded him that the lungs in the human fetus do not breathe, nor do it's eyes see. Thus, the embryo is being prepared for an existence it cannot yet imagine
I hate it that she has so insinuated herself into the interstices of my mind that I can never root her out. And most of all, I hate that at the end of my life I feel compelled to ask, How'd I do, Mama?.
The greatest wisdom is to make the enjoyment of the present the supreme object of life because that is the only reality, all else being the play of thought. But it might as well be our greatest folly because that which exists only a moment and vanishes as a dream can never be worth a serious effort.
Encased in an elaborate illusion of unlimited power and progress, each of us subscribes, at least until one's midlife crisis, to the belief that existence consists of an eternal, upward spiral of achievement, dependent on will alone. This comforting illusion may be shattered by some urgent irreversible experience ... None more potently confronts us with finiteness and contingency than the imminence of our own death.
Self-awareness is a supreme gift, a treasure as precious as life. This is what makes us human. But it comes with a costly price: the wound of mortality. Our existence is forever shadowed by the knowledge that we will grow, blossom, and, inevitably, diminish and die.
You will search the world over and not find a nonsuperstitious community. As long as there is ignorance, there will be adherence to superstition. Dispelling ignorance is the only solution. That is why I teach.
Someone's got to do some more research, but I would really like to know: when a CBT therapist really gets distressed, who does he go see?
Psychiatry is a strange field because, unlike any other field of medicine, you never really finish. Your greatest instrument is you, yourself, and the work of self-understanding is endless. I'm still learning.
We're not teaching our students the importance of relationships with other people: how you work with them, what the relational pathology consists of, how you examine your own conscience, how you examine the inner world, how you examine your dreams.
I'm a compulsive reader of fiction. I fell in love with novels when I was a teenager. My wife Marilyn and I... our initial friendship began because we are both readers. I've gone to sleep almost every night of my life after having read in a novel for 30 or 40 minutes. I'm a great reader of fiction and much less so of non-fiction.
I do not like to work with patients who are in love. Perhaps it is because of envy - I, too, crave enchantment. Perhaps it is because love and psychotherapy are fundamentally incompatible. The good therapist fights darkness and seeks illumination, while romantic love is sustained by mystery and crumbles upon inspection.