Each story is more gripping than the last ... It is utterly compelling: the details, the dialogue, which bring each character, however heavily disguised, leaping off the page. Tallis’s years of close observation might not always have solved his patients’ problems (he is disarmingly honest about the limitations of psychotherapy) but they have helped turn him into a fine writer. He is alert to every nuance ... He knows how to tell a story. Boy, does he know how to tell a story. This powerful and moving book is not just about individual cases. It’s also about what the human animal needs.
Mr. Tallis is a gifted storyteller ... he applies a novelist’s skill to his clinical material ... The book is rich not just in memorable, strange characters but in fine, perceptive lines ... He is unfailingly interesting, except when he writes like a psychotherapist ... There are few such passages. The psychotherapist is held in check, but so is the storyteller. Mr Tallis rarely tries to force his characters’ complexity into neat diagnoses, and he does not attempt a novelist’s resolution of their tales. Most of them drift out of his life, leaving both shrink and reader in ignorance of their fates. Yet this is not unsatisfying: Mr Tallis’s characters remain sharply, painfully real, their stories as inconclusive, messy and fascinating as life.
Tallis’s book will interest anyone who wants to know what makes people tick. And you’ll pick up some handy tips ... Tallis is candid about the challenges he faces as an analyst too ... The Incurable Romantic earns its place in the fine tradition of popular psychoanalytic writing, exemplified by Irvin D Yalom’s excellent book of case studies, Love’s Executioner. Although Tallis never quite matches Yalom’s intimidating powers of perception, he is an amiable and acute guide to the madness of love.
Here, he translates his work with clients into accounts of anonymous individuals besotted by love, concluding that when people are in love, feel brokenhearted by rejection, or miss a loved one, strong and out-of-character behaviors and thoughts can manifest. After a brief preface introducing readers to the enduring place of lovesickness in our human history, Tallis paints vivid pictures of journeys into love ... Recommended for anyone who appreciates stories that delve into the psychological experience of love.
The link between love and mental health is at the heart of this unusual study ... The 1961 song 'Love Makes the World Go ’Round' surely has the right message. But these head-spinning tales of love gone wrong provide a murkier, threatening flip side.
Tallis has a graceful narrative style, easily incorporating brief digressions on deeper philosophical issues such as free will versus determinism. Most importantly, his book is suffused with compassion, avoiding facile categorization and struggling to understand and empathize with his patients as people in pain, often anguish, because of the love they feel.
Mostly, the author reveals how difficult it is for us to deal with imperfect love—i.e., with virtual types of love. Doubt, jealousy, depression, guilt, regret, ebullience—all course through the narrative. We also see how reluctant we can be even to talk about these emotions and experiences. Tallis’ patients—like the rest of us?—conceal and modify and even prevaricate as they tell their wrenching love stories. Moving, at times disturbing, and revealing—like having a productive, revelatory discussion with a trusted friend.