An Existential Psychoanalyst in the Literary Therapy Genre: The Representation of a Psychoanalytic Encounter in Irvin Yalom’s The Schopenhauer Cure

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Abstract

The aim of this paper is to describe the fictionalisation of psychoanalysis in the literary therapy genre written by psychotherapists. Being a psychotherapist, Irvin Yalom has written and published several literary therapy novels. The Schopenhauer Cure (2006) presents a psychoanalytic encounter with focus on the patient’s interpersonal issues in a group therapy session and draws a parallel line between fictional patients and the philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer. The fictionalisation of patients’ psychological symptoms and the way therapists examine themselves in the therapeutic milieu in The Schopenhauer Cure correspond to the fundamental concerns of isolation, meaninglessness, death and freedom in existential psychotherapy. I explore the literary representation of the psychotherapist and therapist-patient relationship and the therapeutic encounter in The Schopenhauer Cure in the context of how fictional narratives can be read as a form of highlighting the psychoanalytic encounter

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Ars Aeterna

Literary Studies and Humanity

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