If ever there was a book I would not expect to read it would be The Schopenhauer Cure by Irvin D. Yalom. It was on a list of recommended reads in a magazine I read and the short description could not have been further from the truth. It wasn’t bad, it just was not what I normally read and it was not my favorite book ever. I think the description that stood out was that the story is of a therapist who is diagnosed with a life-threatening illness and is begins to look back on his life and, more so, his work as a therapist. That sounds interesting, right?! That description is true, however, it also really, maybe more so, focuses on the patient said therapist revisits, who was not helped in their sessions and who now wants to be a philosophy-based therapist.
This patient has studied philosophy, mainly that of Arthur Schopenhauer. So the novel is part textbook on Schopenhauer. Again, interesting, just doesn’t completely peak my interest. It does make you think, though, about how you live your life and view death. The therapist, faced with his own death, wanted to determine if his life was significant. That’s what we all want, right? On some level, we want our lives to have made a difference, even to one person. The characters of the book make up a therapy group and the dynamics of that group are intense – especially when the therapist brings in his patient failure. It reminds me how important it is to not only have people you can talk to about anything, but to have people who will be honest.
It was a good, thought-provoking book, it just took a little while to get through. But for the next few books I’m going to stick with recommendations from friends.