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Yalom’s Cure. A remedy for a good life

Born in 1931, the psychiatrist and author Irvin D. Yalom is one of the most influential psychotherapists in the United States. The film traces his background and career using flashbacks using photos and Super 8 footage from his family archive. Re-enactments of therapy sessions illustrate the method of group therapy which Yalom developed together with others. Starting with his main works, including Love's Executioner (1989), The Schopenhauer Cure (2005) and his 1992 novel When Nietzsche Wept, the director accompanies Yalom in his daily life and talks to him about human existence, love, happiness and the fear of death. In these in-depth conversations, the director interweaves Yalom's professional and private life.

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Sabine Gisiger is a soft-spoken woman, intuitive and philosophical. Born in 1959 in Zurich, Sabine studied history in Zurich and Pisa. In 1989, she trained as a TV journalist with Swiss television and then worked for many years as a reporter at home and away. Since 1990, Sabine has been making exceptional films and documentaries, including the remarkable Yalom’s Cure. I was very fortunate to interview Sabine in Geneva when the film first came out. I found it particularly endearing when Sabine talks about the incredible accomplishments so in a very unassuming manner. 

Yalom’s Cure is a beautiful biography, a love story, a guide on how to live, but above all, it is about the 86-year-old psychotherapist and bestselling author Irvin D. Yalom. The film takes the audience on an existential journey through the human psyche layers. In the tour guide’s role, Yalom shares his insights and provides deep insights into his own soul life. The filmmaker says the idea of this documentary was inspired by the death of her father and her divorce.

“I wanted to make a film that affects the viewers in the same way as the reading of Irvin Yalom’s books affects me” Sabine Gisiger

The film portrait “Yalom’s Cure” by Sabine Gisiger offers insights into the therapeutic work of Irvin D. Yalom and the inner life of the man and author. The starting point is Yalom’s childhood in Washington. As the offspring of Jewish-Russian immigrants, he grew up in simple circumstances. To escape these, he went to the city library as often as he could.

“The more we know ourselves, the better lives we can live. And when we get into trouble, very often what happens is: there are parts of ourselves, that we don’t know very well.” Quote from “Yalom’s Cure”

His early acquaintance with his future wife, Marylin, a successful academic in literary studies and gender studies, also played an important role in Yalom’s theoretical and therapeutic thinking. He is convinced that because human beings are lonely, they strive for partnerships with others. Irvin and Marilyn Yalom celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary in June 2014. They have had difficult times in their lives and careers, but, says Irvin, “we never stopped loving and respecting each other.”

On 23rd April 2021, Filmcoopi is organising a joint viewing of Yalom’s Cure on its Film Live streaming channel. Afterwards, Irvin Yalom and filmmaker Sabine will be there for an online film discussion, where you can also ask questions directly or via chat.

“One of the great paradoxes of life is that self-awareness breeds anxiety.”  Irvin D. Yalom

It will be a wistful reunion for Irv lost his Marylin at the end of 2019. The two of them kept a diary of sorts in the year they died at her request. “A Matter of Life and Death” has already been published in English and will be released in German in May. Finally, I have to mention the music in the film. The composer Balz Bachmann did a wonderful job. The beautiful music which accompanied the film was a character in itself.

Tickets are now available here: After the diffusion of the film there will be an interactive Q&A with Irvin D. Yalom and Sabine Gisiger

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