Nietzsche, a novel, and the start of psychotherapy

I knew that Nietzsche was a famous existential philosopher who declared, ‘God is Dead’, and affirmed the sanctity of one’s own experience while questioning socially popular “truths”, but I never knew that he wept, much less why. So I was intrigued to learn more when I recently read the fascinating award-winning novel, When Nietzche Wept, by Irvin Yalom.

Author Irvin Yalom, an experienced psychotherapist, blends fact with fiction to tell the 19th century tale of a therapeutic relationship between Nietzsche, and a renowned neurologist Dr. Josef Breuer who confers with a young medical intern, Sigmund Freud.

A superb storyteller, Yalom demonstrates the importance of the task of relational authenticity in psychotherapy and of the individual person’s challenge to “become who you are.” And the descriptions of Nietzsche’s migraines – I could relate!

For me When Nietzche Wept is a compelling novel and I definitely recommend anything by Irvin Yalom; however, I must say I feel some dismay with Yalom’s portrayal of the main female characters as compelling yet demanding, and as beautiful yet manipulative. The novel left me me wondering: whatever happened to the infamous Anna O, the original psychoanalysis patient? I will look into this and get back to you!
To be continued . . .

Susan Anderson