Becoming Myself: A Psychiatrist's Memoir

Irvin Yalom

Basic Books, 2017

Agent: Sandra Dijkstra

Irvin D. Yalom has made a career of investigating the lives of others. In this profound memoir, he turns his writing and his therapeutic eye on himself. He opens his story with a nightmare: He is twelve, and is riding his bike past the home of an acne-scarred girl. Like every morning, he calls out, hoping to befriend her, "Hello Measles!" But in his dream, the girl's father makes Yalom understand that his daily greeting had hurt her. For Yalom, this was the birth of empathy; he would not forget the lesson. As Becoming Myself unfolds, we see the birth of the insightful thinker whose books have been a beacon to so many. This is not simply a man's life story, Yalom's reflections on his life and development are an invitation for us to reflect on the origins of our own selves and the meanings of our lives.

Reviews:
"Fans of this eloquent and introspective author will welcome this innermost chronicle of his history, passions, and the keys to unlocking a fruitful life."
Kirkus Reviews


“I have been a Yalom fan for the longest time—I always admired the deftness of his stories, the insights that came out of his obvious compassion and love for his characters. Of course psychiatrists are expected to have such insights, but it’s not the rule that they can convey that as beautifully as Yalom does in his fiction. I’ve always wondered, as any reader would wonder, about the author, about the balance between the professional and the personal, and how out of that alchemy the writing emerged. Finally, in Becoming Myself, we have the answer, and it is wonderful, compelling, and as insightful about its subject and about the times he lived in as you could hope for. A fabulous read.”
Abraham Verghese, author of Cutting for Stone


“Irvin D. Yalom is the psychiatrist who thinks like a philosopher and writes like the fine novelist he also happens to be. Becoming Myself delivers not only the engrossing story of one exceptional individual’s life, it shines with revelations regarding life as it ought to be lived.”
Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, author of Plato at the Googleplex: Why Philosophy Won't Go Away


“I loved reading Becoming Myself, having been a huge fan of Irvin D. Yalom for many years. This is the book we’ve been waiting for from him, his own deep journey into the self. This intimate and vivid narrative should, in fact, help readers to interrogate their own lives: Yalom shows us what an unflinching, clear-eyed self-analysis might look like. This is a book to read and reread for years to come, a memorable journey through Yalom’s time and ours.”
Jay Parini, author of The Last Station and New and Collected Poems: 1975-2015


“Near the end of Becoming Myself, Irvin Yalom claims to be ‘a novice at growing old’—to which I say, ‘Oh, please!—you’re as good at it as you have been at everything else.’ This is a candid, insightful memoir by one of the world’s most important and accomplished experts on the human soul.”
Daniel Menaker, author of The Treatment and My Mistake: A Memoir