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Can you imagine Nietzsche Crying?

Updated on July 27, 2017
Nietzsche | Source

About the novel

  • Name of the book: When Nietzsche Wept
  • Author: Irvin D. Yalom
  • Genre: historical mixed with fiction
  • Published in 1992

The book takes place at the time when the Jewish persecution began in Europe. At that time, in Vienna, the first advances in mind understanding where develop . Although the novel contains true historical facts, such as the existence of the characters, some of them are part fiction, like the fact that Josef knew Nietzsche.

The author, Irvin D. Yalom, an american psychiatrist born in 1931, son of Jewish Russian parents, used his many years of experience in his work field yo write this and other books.

Main characters

  • Josef Brauer .- a re-known Jewish Austrian physician. He wasn't married and had kids, however he is going through a middle age crisis due that he is afraid of getting older and die. He is obsessed with an ex-patient.
  • Friederich Nietzsche.- an ex-professor of philosophy and writer. He suffers a lot of physical pain due to his headaches.
  • Sigmund Freud.- a medical young student with a great sensibility to understand situations. He is, in the novel, friend of Josef.
  • Lou Andreas-Salomé.- a 21-year- old beautiful Russian woman, she was Nietsche friend until he falls in love with her.
  • Anna O.- pseudonym of Bertha Pappenheim, Josef´s hysterical ex-patient. Thanks to her he discovered a cure to Hysteria through talking.

What is it about?

Dr. Brauer is an acclaimed Austrian doctor. He has been contacted by a beautiful young Russian woman named Lou Andreas-Salomé- She wanted him to cure his friend, Friederich Nietzsche, a philosopher who in her opinion, will revolutionize the world with his ideas. He suffered from severe headaches as well as other symptoms that prevented him from writing and living. She also asked Josef to treat her friend without him knowing that she intervened, since they had had a history of mental attraction, but which Nietzsche wanted something more.

While Brauer has to deal with his own demons, he is obsessed with a patient of his, whose pseudonym was Anna O. In addition, he had terrible nightmares, which caused him attacks of anxiety. His friend, Sigmund Freud, for whom he felt a great affection, almost paternal, tried to help him when he spoke about his nightmares or medical cases that involved the mind.

Brauer, however, cannot resist the request of the charming Lou and accepts to treat Nietzsche, but his treatment was not going to be easy, as most of his ills were caused by his stormy past. How to help you? Fortunately, Dr. Brauer was a great fan of philosophy and that allowed his patient to cooperate more, however, Nietzsche put distance between them constantly, and more when he had to talk about his personal life. So, a brilliant and unorthodox idea came to mind, Brauer would heal the body of Nietzsche, but in return, he must cure his soul, this meant telling every to his current patient, even the most shameful and lustful of his thoughts. And so, along with Sigmund's little external help, Brauer released his mind from his false infatuation with Anna O. and Nietzsche manages to overcome some of his unrequited love issues and fished to write one of the books that would bring him to fame: Zarathushtra.


Obsession: During the plot, the reader may find this subject as one of the main ones to deal with between Josef and Nietzsche, not only feel this towards the women who have conquered their hearts and later left. There is also an obsession with aging, dying, boring life and obsession even to be sick or desperately need attention.

Forgiveness: This is necessary for both men to overcome their problems and to get ahead. the forgiveness that they should give is not only against the people that hurt them but with themselves.

Ego: Both doctor and patient believe they are right. His ideas are firm because everyone believes that his experience in life makes him right. In addition, both men are intelligent and possess much knowledge regarding everything they speak. How to help each other when it takes so much work to admit their mistakes?

Illusion.- Josef confuses his feelings and wants to leave everything for something that promises him a better life, full of excitement, but this is not real. He cannot see objectively the consequences and he is losing everything around him.

Do I recommed it?

Yes. You do not need to study philosophy or medicine to enjoy this book. The technical concepts he handles are few and each one is explained after being mentioned; the plot is mild and intense. The conversations established between doctor and patient are full of passion. The struggle between their egos and to establish who is right complicates the plot and also makes it more interesting.

Other Novels

  • Every day gets a little closet
  • Love's executioner and other Tales of Pshycotherapy
  • Lying on the couch
  • Momma and the meaning of love
  • The Schopenhauer cure
  • The Spinoza problem

His recent Book, "Creatures of a day: and other Tales of Pshycotherapy", was published in 2015.


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