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Wise Counsel Interview Transcript: An Interview with Irvin Yalom, MD on Death Anxiety

David Van Nuys, Ph.D.

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Dr. David Van Nuys: Welcome to Wise Counsel, a podcast interview series sponsored by mentalhelp.net, covering topics in mental health, wellness, and psychotherapy.

On today's show, we'll be talking about dealing with the fear of death, with Dr. Irvin Yalom. Irvin D. Yalom, MD, is professor emeritus of psychiatry at Stanford University and the author of several highly acclaimed textbooks, including "Existential Psychotherapy" and "The Theory and Practice of Group Psychotherapy."

He's also the author of stories and novels related to psychotherapy, including "Love's Executioner," "When Nietzsche Wept," "Lying on the Couch," "Momma and the Meaning of Life," and "The Schopenhauer Cure." His latest nonfiction book is "Staring at the Sun: Overcoming the Terror of Death."

Now, here's the interview. Dr. Irvin Yalom, welcome to Wise Counsel.

Dr. Irvin Yalom: Thank you very much.

Dr. Van Nuys: You've enjoyed incredible success, not only as a psychiatrist and Stanford professor, but particularly as an author. And you have a book that I believe is coming out this month, which is called "Staring at the Sun: Overcoming the Terror of Death."

Dr. Yalom: Yes. It came out, I think, two days ago.

Dr. Van Nuys: Two days ago. Well, congratulations.

Dr. Yalom: Thank you.

Dr. Van Nuys: How did you come to write this book?

Dr. Yalom: Well, I could tell you the story about writing this book, because it's been a long evolution. Sometimes, readers see a book and don't quite understand that maybe the book had a life of its own.

But, I had started to write quite another book some years ago. I had an idea of a book of fiction, a book of short stories, but they would all be connected in this way - they would all start with the same first page or two, and they were all going to start with a nightmare. And most nightmares are fears of your personal death, and one wakens with an anxiety.

So, every story started with the same nightmare, and the dreamer wakes up anxious, gets dressed and goes outside to go seek some help for his terror, for his anxiety, only each story was set in a different century. In other words, where do people go for help with fearfulness of death?

Dr. Van Nuys: Yeah, very interesting.

Dr. Yalom: And the first story was going to be the story set in ancient Greece, about 400 BC. And they would go to seek Epicurus, one of the philosophers who particularly offered some counsel for this. But, that was it. And it's a hard book to write, because you've got to historical research for six different eras of history. And I spent months working on Greek cultural history and what the Greeks wear, what they had for breakfast, that type of thing, and I felt, "Oh, it's too much to do."

And gradually, it evolved into... I decided that this was really important material, and I wrote it as nonfiction.

Dr. Van Nuys: OK.

Dr. Yalom: So, that's how this book came about.

Dr. Van Nuys: Yeah. Well, I don't think anybody could accuse you of taking the easy way out. [laughs]

Dr. Yalom: Yeah. Well, it's a big topic.

Dr. Van Nuys: Yeah.

Dr. Yalom: I know. Many years ago, I wrote a textbook for a fear, which really didn't exist. It was a course in psychotherapy, but dictated by interest in existential concerns that bedevil us - concerns about mortality and meaning in life and how we go about living our lives and what kind of freedom we have in life. And one of the major concerns that I discuss in that book - this was over 20 years ago - was our fear of mortality.

I thought, for a while there, that I should revise that book. But, what I have done, is take the fear of death, which is really, I think, the primary source of anxiety for so many of us. And, just concentrate on that.

And, I have had a great many patients, over the last few years, who come with, not anxiety about death - we all have that, it is hard-wired into us, of course. But, great terror, so they were preoccupied, obsessed with thoughts about death and could not even live life properly.

So, that has really formed the background of material for this particular book.

Dr. Van Nuys: OK, well, to further orient our listeners toward the book, let me ask you to read a short passage from the book. And, I am thinking, on my copy, it starts on page nine. It is the last four paragraphs of Chapter One.

Dr. Yalom: Oh, sure, OK. Well, in Chapter One I am just introducing the topic. I am talking about the fact that death anxiety is much more common than we think it is. In fact, it underlies a lot of symptoms that we see in therapy.

Although, therapists often don't tend to recognize it as such, we tend to minimize that or don't want to deal with death anxiety, because what can we do about it? And, then, I add... So, I tell what I am going to do in each chapter and ended up with these words.

[reads] "Why, you may ask, take on this unpleasant, frightening subject? Why stare into the sun? Why you must follow the advice of the veritable dean for American Psychiatry? Adolf Meyer, who a century ago, said to psychiatrists, don't scratch where it doesn't itch.

Why grapple with the most terrible, the darkest, and most unchangeful aspect of life? Indeed, in recent years, the arrival of managed care, grief therapy, symptom control, attempts to alter thinking patterns have only exacerbated this blinkered point of view.

Death, however, does itch. It itches all the time. It is always with us, scratching at some inner door. Mirroring, softly, barely audibly, just under the membrane of consciousness. Hidden in disguise, leaking out in a variety of symptoms. It is the wellspring of many of our worries, stresses, and conflicts.

I feel strongly, because a man who will himself die one day in the not to distant future and, also, as a psychiatrist who spent decades dealing with death anxiety, that confronting death allows us, not to open some noisen, Pandora's box, but to re-enter life in a richer, more compassionate manner.

So, I offer this book optimistically. I believe it will help you stare death in the face. And, in so doing, not only ameliorate terror, but enrich your life."

Dr. Van Nuys: Very good. Yeah, thank you for reading that. So, what is the significance of the title "Staring at the Sun". How did you come up with that?

Dr. Yalom: Well, it is the idea of... you know, there has always been a folklore that there are couple things that you can't stare at. You can't stare at the sun. You can't stare at death, it is too frightening.

In fact, I have found a max master; I had already coined the title. But, a French Maxim writer named La Rochefoucauld, so I have that on the title page. Two things we cannot stare at directly - at the sun or at death.

So, that is what it was, in effect, what I am saying in this book, I am not suggesting anyone stare at the sun. But, I do believe that it is errorful to think we can't stare at death. I'm saying that if we stare directly at death or confront it, learn about it, we can not only begin to diminish our symptoms but more importantly it can actually be a way of enriching our lives and live more vibrantly.

Dr. Van Nuys: Let me share a little anecdote from my own past. When I was a teenager I would lie in bed at night and I would try to grasp the reality of my own death - that I would cease to be. The metaphor that came to me at that time was, I have tried to climb an ice mountain because I have to really work at getting to that place of full impact to realize that I, me was going to die and it would scare me so much that I would slide back down the mountain from that realization.

But, somewhere in my soul I felt that this was an important experiment that I was attempting and I didn't think that any of my peers were trying to wrestle with the reality of their own mortality. So, somehow I felt that this made me special.

Dr. Yalom: Yeah, it is a wonderful metaphor. I like that very much. You know the idea that we really can't contemplate our own death. We can contemplate what is leading up to death, but we can't contemplate non-being. That lead Freud to minimize the importance of death anxiety because he says, 'well, we have never had a taste of what it is not to be, therefore, it is not in our unconscious' and he began to translate death anxiety into other things like separation from important people in our lives, those sort of substitutions.

I know I have had many grapplings with death as I was younger. In fact, in one of the chapters of this book I wrote a personal memoir of the kind of thing you're suggesting. How did I confront death over all the early experiences I had with it?

Dr. Van Nuys: Yes. So, you mentioned Freud. Most people are familiar with the Freudian idea that the denial of sexuality can lead to distortions in personality in a various source of symptoms, but as an existentialist, I gather that you believe that the denial of death can also lead to neuratic distortions. Is that right?

Dr. Van Nuys: Exactly. I am using Freud's structure of the mind and saying well we repress this. It is there. It's in our unconscious. It comes out in dreams all the time. It's quite a remarkable.

If a therapist, if I am attuned to these issues, I see it very frequently in therapy. Therapists who haven't had that particular point of view or quite young or have some doubt with some of their own concerns, well, they say it just never arises in my therapy.

Not only that, I think that it follows somewhat the course of Freud's life era in that I think that we have a sort of life developmental history in which we first deal with death when we first discover it.

Often this is much earlier than we sometimes think. Children have some glimmerings of seeing dead leaves and dead insects and dead pets or maybe even the death of a grandparent or a funeral. Gradually it begins to begin.

Parents do whatever they can for the young child to reassure them. Sometimes they try to change the subject. Sometimes they offer visions of everlasting life or reunion in heaven, but then it goes underground in the same way Freud talked about what he called the "sexual latency period" - periods at about six, seven years old to adolescence.

I think the same thing happens with death anxiety. We forget about it. It goes underground. And then, it really comes out in adolescence again. Adolescents are very aware of this and concerned about this and we see a lot of efforts to deal with that. Sometimes, it's what we call counter-phobic. We do exactly the opposite of what we are frightened. So, you see adolescents going to horror films or taunting death with songs and, of course, all the Halloween kind of revelry.

Then, when we get to be... finish high school and finish our education. At that point, it goes underground again for a long time because we become totally preoccupied with the two major tasks of adulthood, which is beginning to create your own family and your own professional career. Then, it's underground for a long time until it makes its emergence again in what we have learned to call the mid-life crisis, in our forties, when we seem to have reached the peak and begin to look at life in a different way at that point.

Dr. Van Nuys: Why is it that people fear death so much, do you think?

Dr. Yalom: One of the questions I often ask patients who are dealing with this... I'll say to them, "Look, I know this feels like a stupid question or a simplistic question, but let me ask you, what is it precisely about death that really frightens you so much?" It's quite remarkable that the people come with very different answers. You really have to look at individual, particular variations. Some people have a great fear of death, for example, because they feel that they've not really lived. That there's too much of life that's been unlived.

And there is a rough correlation - there's some research indicates this too - that the greater the amount of perception of unlived life in you, the greater the degree of death anxiety or death panic, I would even say. I always loved that phrase from the Greek writer, Kazantzakis, who wrote Zorba the Greek. Kazantzakis used to say that his goal was to leave death nothing but a burned out castle. You live life very fully. And I have a sense that if you live life very fully that there's less panic at the end of life.

That's just one and there are many others. The idea of... maybe, concern about your children. Some people say that, "How will the children cope with my death? All the pain it will cause to them." The aching about not seeing the end of the story. Not seeing about how your children will end up.

Of course, people have certain strong, supernatural, superstitious views about death and they fear hell and they fear everlasting torment. Then, of course, the fear of death can be compounded and take even a greater meaning. That was very true for many centuries of western civilization. When you know all the pains of the last judgment, death had another, new, whole dimension of fear in that way.

Dr. Van Nuys: Yeah, let me look at the flip side of that. Some people take comfort in the idea of an afterlife. What's your position on that?

Dr. Yalom: Let me answer that from the viewpoint of a therapist.

Dr. Van Nuys: OK.

Dr. Yalom: As a therapist, I have one major priority and that's the care of my clients, care of my patients. If people get comfort out of that particular idea, then I would do nothing but encourage that.

Sometimes, I work with nuns or priests. They, for example, got a great deal out of... I'm thinking of one priest who got a great deal out of his early, four or five a.m. conversations with Jesus. It gave him a lot of comfort and recently that hasn't been happening. I began to wonder why is he not taking advantage of this source of comfort for him? I don't let any personal views about religion cause me to want to take away something that's offering the patient comfort. I never want to take away something when I don't have anything better to offer him in a way.

Personally, the book is written from a purely secular point of view. From an existential point of view, which posits that we're mortal, that we die, that life is finite and we have to come to terms with the finite life. Many religious views... my view tends to deny the promise of that. So, you're dealing with a whole different kind of phenomena. I'm writing this book as though death is permanent, death is finite, and we have to deal with the whole sense of personal finiteness.

Dr. Van Nuys: Well, at the same time that I was reading your book, I've also been reading a book about near death experience. It's a collection of vignettes much as yours has many wonderful vignettes and stories. Feel free to throw any of those in as we go along in our conversation. This particular book has four vignettes about people who had a white light experience and felt strongly that they had had a taste of what's beyond. What's your take on those kinds of accounts? I'm sure you must have read those somewhere.

Dr. Yalom: I think, there's a relation. I think, a good deal more on a technical input in that people with certain kinds of brain states, especially lack of oxygen, will undergo these sorts of purely physiological kind of experience. It happens to us and we wrap it up, filling a gestalt with our own kind of illusion. But, I know that's had a great deal of press recently, but again and again I see scientific articles written all the time about how this can be experimentally recreated when there's nowhere near death. I'm not familiar with all the brain literature, but there is quite a tremendous amount of it recently.

I've been watching this HBO series called, "In Treatment."

Dr. Van Nuys: Yes, I have too. What's your take on that?

Dr. Yalom: You know, I like that very, very much.

Dr. Van Nuys: Me too.

Dr. Yalom: It's the first show I've seen on television, which even begins to portray therapy in a real way.

Dr. Van Nuys: Yes.

Dr. Yalom: In fact, one of my main fields is, "Why wasn't I asked to write this? Yes. Business has just found the kind of thing I'd like to do.

Dr. Van Nuys: Right.

Dr. Yalom: I have great admiration, so far. I've only seen the first five episodes. So far, for this show, the therapist is real and furthermore, the therapist is not afraid to talk about death anxiety, as well. I have admiration for this show. Other portrayals of therapists - maybe, the best known one is the "Sopranos," I thought it was so inauthentic. I found it very distasteful, not resembling what therapy's like, in my view. This one's real. I like that old movie of Robin Williams called, "Goodwill Hunting."

Dr. Van Nuys: That's right. That's the other good therapist example.

Dr. Yalom: Yeah, if I had to pick out a therapist in a movie that I'd like to go see as a personal therapist, it would be Robin Williams in that film.

Dr. Van Nuys: Yes, I totally agree.

Well, we should come back to your book here, although I'd love talking more about the media. In your book, you talk about some people treating children as "an immortality project." Say something about that.

Dr. Yalom: Well, I think, that's one of the ways. There are many different ways that we can find comfort in death, and one of the ways is through our children; that, in a sense, maybe, there's no such thing as true immortality. In that, I mean, persistence of our personal consciousness, although there are some people who believe that.

I don't believe that, but in a sense, we do project ourselves into the future through our seed, through our children. No body... parts of our children, parts of ourselves, that go on into the future.

I have another chapter in that book that says something similar to that for everyone, not necessarily parents. I'm using the term, "rippling." The idea that some part of yourself passes on to other people whom you've touched or affected in some way, and that can be passed on to others. That doesn't mean that the others, to whom it's passed on, even know who you are, or have heard of you, but some trait, some piece of wisdom, some virtue, some act, is passed on to others.

I went to a memorial a few days ago for an old friend of mine named Diane Middlebrook, a very good writer and a professor of English at Stanford. Someone was talking. I heard it right in front of me. They talked about her stride as she marched across Stanford that she first learned this stride. "I used to watch her walk, and hope that, someday, I could walk with that kind of authority. And then, my daughter, now a sophomore in college, seems to march around all on her own, just like Diane did."

Pieces like that get passed on from one person to another. So I think, we ripple on into others, just like a stone puts its ripples into a brook. That, for me, too, is a source of comfort. It kind of, in a sense, negates the sense of total oblivion. Some piece of ourselves, not necessarily our consciousness, but some piece of ourselves gets passed on and on and on.

Dr. Van Nuys: Yes. You also make a distinction between "overt" and "covert" death anxiety. Can you tell us what you mean by that, and give an example of each?

Dr. Yalom: Why, sure. With overt anxiety, people are preoccupied and obsessed with death. A patient who comes to see me, for example - I'm thinking of a patient who saw me some time ago. I wrote about her in the book.

She had to drive a couple of hours to see me. She was driving up with some relatives and thinking, "Oh, in a little while, they'll be gone, and these beautiful trees... Everything will turn to dust."

All of her life was viewed in that way, constantly thinking about the passage of time and ultimate oblivion so that all pleasure was taken away. Well, that's, obviously, overt death anxiety.

There can be plenty of ways in which we can be anxious, but we don't quite know what the cause is. I gave one example of a patient I had seen, who, after the loss of a couple of people who were really close to her, began to develop a lot of hypochondriacal symptoms - a fearfulness of owners leaving the house, fearfulness of driving. She could no longer ski.

Anything that had the slightest hint of risk in it, she became very adverse to. I think, that was thinly disguised death anxiety. She had all these concerns about things that had the slightest bit of risk, so she wasn't going to enter life, in a way, because she was so afraid. That would be something of covert death anxiety.

Dr. Van Nuys: I just realized that I had an experience of that when I was in graduate school. I tried to take up skydiving. I was so determined... I had this male macho orientation that I would not consciously admit any fear, but I was waking up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat. At some point, being a graduate student in clinical psychology, I finally put it together. I said, "You know what, I'm scared. I'm scared out of my mind."

Dr. Yalom: That's right.

Dr. Van Nuys: So, I decided to stop at that point.

Dr. Yalom: Yeah, on the same [indecipherable] I've had a patient, I was just talking to here recently, who used to go skydiving as a teenager. I think, that's a good example of some really counter-phobic behavior, of overcoming that by facing it very, very bluntly and overtly.

Dr. Van Nuys: I'm sure that was the case.

Dr. Yalom: There's anxiety too, that's very evident when we begin to look at dreams. It's represented in lots of different ways in our dreams. I think, covert anxiety can shield lots of behaviors, for example, mid-life crisis.

Right now I'm thinking of a couple of males I've seen recently who are reaching their late forties. They're at the peak of success in their fields. They almost have nowhere to go, but down at that point. We can, sort of, see less stress to their lives stretching out for them. They begin embarking on strange behaviors, for example, a passionate love affair, extramarital love affairs. They can't explain why the lust is so strong that they cannot possibly resist it, other passions that arise. In a sense, I think they're fueled at bottom by some of the fears that move over them. The magic comes up in a kind of a way of almost diverting their attention or giving the sense of vibrancy or life or extends their life design because here's another whole life they could possibly live.

Dr. Van Nuys: Yes.

Dr. Yalom: That's the kind of thing that I mean by covert anxiety.

Dr. Van Nuys: Now, in another place you write, "Although the physicality of death destroys us the idea of death saves us." How does the idea of death save us?

Dr. Yalom: Well, you know, there's long tradition through so many centuries of the fact that life and death are interdependent. Socrates would say that preparing for death is something that will enhance your life, that's your task in life. This observation came really strongly home to me when I worked some years ago...

I worked for about ten years with people who were dying of cancer. As a way of learning about this area because you can't often with your everyday clients work in these areas because people deny it so much. I thought, "I will work with a group of people who can't deny it, who are facing more immediate death through a lethal illness." So, I worked with people like that and I began to form groups. These were the first therapy groups that had been done for people with cancer. I was working heavily because of the research that I was doing with women with breast cancer.

One of the things that astounded me after a while, was that I found that there was a substantial number of my patients that I worked with, I'm talking a lot, maybe 30-40 percent, who didn't necessarily succumb to a numbness and despair, but actually began to change and live life more fully. They did things like changing their life priorities. One of them put it trivializing the trivia in life ceased to be so concerned about tiny little things; not so concerned about inter-personal rejection, and began to look at what is truly important - the family, and the love of those closest to them, and the changing seasons. So, they begin to live life more fully, at that point.

That's why... I mean, you can change the way that you want. The corollary of that is, 'well, then maybe you don't have to be actually facing immediate death. Maybe, by getting in touch with the death that is in all of us, we can approach life in a different way.' I think that what we can do is, maybe we can treasure life a little bit more. Maybe, we can find life more poignant, of greater impact for us if we'd realize, in fact, that life is finite. That's what I mean by that.

Dr. Van Nuys: OK. Holding that awareness that this could be the last day can lead us to appreciate life more, and to lead it more intensely.

Dr. Yalom: That's right.

Dr. Van Nuys: We were talking about film earlier. Another one that comes to mind is... and I wonder if you saw it years ago - Dustin Hoffman, in a film called, "Little Big Man".

Dr. Yalom: I did see that film, but I don't remember it all.

Dr. Van Nuys: There is a Zenian. You might want to go back and look at it. The Zenian chief who says, "Today is a good day to die." That's kind of a little light motif that runs through the film.

Dr. Yalom: Yeah.

Dr. Van Nuys: I know that you derive some comfort from the philosophy of the Greeks, and the Epicureans, in particular. Most of us probably don't know much about the Epicureans, other than maybe it has something to do with good taste, or something.

What comfort do the Epicureans have to offer, in relation to death?

Dr. Yalom: Epicurus is really kind of misunderstood by most people, who only know him through the word "epicurean," as someone who really delights in great food and wine, but that has really little to do with Epicurus.

In fact, he's a fascinating character. As I say, if I was going to write a story, I'd begin another novel about him, because he believed that... we're talking about 350 BC; he came just after Plato. He believed that all of life's misery is really caused by our fear of death, and that the job of philosophy is to minister to human despair. So, he thought of philosophy as a kind of medicine for the soul; medicine for our inner selves.

He founded a school. He taught his students arguments that we can use to defeat our anxiety about dying. I have listed some of those in my book. I think, they are still quite valid.

One of them was something that we talked about a few minutes ago, the idea that we're mortal and, therefore, we have nothing to fear in the afterlife. We have nothing to fear from the gods. They can't harm us, or hurt us, in any way.

Another argument - I won't go through all of them, just another powerful one that I feel offers me comfort - is the fact that, when death comes, we can go into the same... what shall we say?... a state of non-being, in the same way that we were before we were born.

He calls this a "symmetry argument." There have been legions of answers and responses to this through the centuries, but I feel that it is still a powerful argument.

The Russian novelist, Vladimir Nabokov, talked about life being a "crack of light between two pools of darkness" - the darkness before we were born, and the darkness after we die.

But, the important thing is that the pools of darkness are the same; they're identical. We seem to have so much concern about the second pool and so little about the first pool.

Dr. Van Nuys: Yes, I find that remarkable. And I think that's the argument that has given me most comfort, realizing that I have absolutely no despair about having been dead before eternity going backwards. I don't have any anxiety about the fact that I wasn't there for the American Revolution or other earlier events.

Dr. Yalom: That's right. We have this one little, brief flash of life, and then we enter that pool again. In a sense, that's an argument for saying we should live as good as we can, and that we're so lucky to have this kind of life when so many others passed in darkness, or in darkness yet to come, or have never achieved the conditions that are necessary for life to flourish.

Dr. Van Nuys: Yes. Now earlier you were speaking about dreams, and then in the book, you give a number of examples of dreams as a kind of awakening experience. Maybe, you can talk about the awakening experience as well. But, many people discount dreams as meaningless. I take it that's not your experience.

Dr. Yalom: Not at all, I use dreams a great deal in therapy. I do have some real concerns about the future of psychotherapy because there's so much economic pressure for therapists to do therapy in four sessions, or try to change the way people think, or use a manual and put people through certain exercises - and you know, we lose touch with the deeper aspects of ourselves. Dreams are an entry into what one feels and what one thinks that we're often not conscience of. So yes, I use dreams quite a bit in therapy.

The awakening experience is the kind of experience... I gave an example before when I talked about having cancer and that suddenly it awakens one to life. In my book, I described amongst perhaps the sanest one in literature, which is the story of 'A Christmas Carol,' Dickens. It started out with Scrooge being a cantankerous, mean-spirited, stingy old man. But then, by the end of 'A Christmas Carol,' he was totally transformed. He was full of life, generous and high-spirited.

Then, we have to ask, what made that difference? What made the difference certainly wasn't the Christmas cheer or something like that. Dickens gave him a form of existential shock therapy by having the angel of the future visit him and pull him into the future, so he could see his own death and see his own tombstone. And just that scene of him seeing his tombstone and even putting his fingers over his name etched into the granite - that was the scene. The next scene that occurred, he was a transformed person.

So, it was an awakening experience, filling one full of life and treasuring life more fully. And also, and this is very important too, recognizing that we're all facing that. Everyone is taking the same path and that can fill us with a certain profound compassion for others; and it was his compassion and connectedness to others that was really aroused at that point.

Dr. Van Nuys: OK. As we begin to wind down here, I wonder if you have any advice to anyone who might be suffering from death anxiety.

Dr. Yalom: Oh, well. One advice, if you can find a good therapist who can work on those issues. To that, another advice has to do with connection. I feel therapists offer a couple of things. I think, they offer two major... what shall I say... commodities. I don't like that term, but... Two major things - they offer connection and they offer ideas. I've talked about some of these ideas and there are others in the book as well. You have some of the Epicurus ideas, for example, but they also offer a deep connection with the individual that penetrates their loneliness.

A lot of people, like you as a teenager, having this experience of your death that you often, as I think you say, you did it in isolation. I'm thinking that others might have similar experiences. They often don't like to talk about their fears of death. In other words, they don't want to sound macabre, they don't want to drive people away or maybe they don't want to depress other people. That's especially true for people who are terribly ill. They keep all their feelings to themselves. You will find, that other people may respond much more openly. They may not know what to say if they know you're concerned, but if you let them know how you're concerned, that you want to talk about these things, I think the connection will help you tremendously.

Dr. Van Nuys: OK, and I wonder if there's anything that I've missed in this conversation that you...

Dr. Yalom: No, you've asked me all the important questions.

Dr. Van Nuys: OK.

Dr. Yalom: I think, it's given the potential reader a good overview of what I'm about in this book.

Dr. Van Nuys: Well, that's great. Dr. Irvin Yalom, thanks so much for being my guest today on "Wise Counsel".

Dr. Yalom: Oh, you're very welcome. It's a pleasure to be here.

[music]

Dr. Van Nuys: I hope you found this interview with Dr. Irvin Yalom thought provoking. After all, who among us has not contemplated death? Once again, I feel so privileged to have the opportunity to interview an author of such worldwide renown as Dr. Yalom. I'm so pleased to be able to share it with you. I don't hesitate to recommend this latest book to you or any of his other books, which have become classics in the field. You might also enjoy visiting his website at www.yalom.com. Yalom is spelled, Y-A-L-O-M. You've been listening to "Wise Counsel" a podcast interview series sponsored by www.mentalhelp.net.

If you found today's show interesting, we encourage you to visit www.mentalhelp.net, where you can add a comment or a question to this show's web page, view other shows in this series or simply page through the site which is full of interesting mental health and wellness content. Access this show's page and show archive information via the "podcast" box on the mentalhelp.net home page. If you like "Wise Counsel" you might also like "Shrinkrap Radio", my other interview podcast series, which is available online at www.shrinkrapradio.com. Rap is spelled, R-A-P. Until next time, this is Dr. David Van Nuys and you've been listening to "Wise Counsel."