It’s no secret that I enjoy reading psychology non-fiction books and that I’m interested in Psychology. Tallis’ book intrigued me because of the subject matter it deals with – love, to be precise: obsessive love. I rarely read and find books on this subject so I was glad I stumbled upon it.
While reading this book I wrote notes on the first half of the book because many chapters were interesting and contained a lot of information I found useful. The Incurable Romantic contains twelve chapters and each of them deal with a different problem and aspect of love. The stories inside this book are based on real life cases the author worked on with the names of people changed in order to protect identities of his patients. I really don’t want to make this review long but I tend to write essays on non-fiction books so I’ll try and be efficient. In the preface of this book Tallis writes about earlier understandings of love and ‘lovesickness’. He uses a philosopher called Lucretius and looks at his definition on both terms. The conclusion he comes to is that both views on love and lovesickness haven’t changed much in nearly two-thousand years – which means that these feelings have been around for a while. The first chapter of this book The Barrister’s Clerk examines love that is very obsessive to the point where our subject can’t get the person she has feelings for out of her mind. We are talking about stalking here – where the person she likes doesn’t share the same feelings, the person is married but still our subject can’t get these facts into her mind. Tallis explains that the subject suffers from de Clerambault’s syndrome which is a form of a delusional disorder where the person believes that another person is infatuated with them. We see how this obsession ruins her life because she can’t accept that the other person doesn’t share the same feelings. In the second chapter called The Haunted Bedroom we meet our subject, an old woman who lost her husband and who feels very depressed and lonely. When Tallis interviews her what she says is very peculiar, he asks her ‘What do you miss most about your husband?’ and she replies ‘The sex.’. She begins to see her husband everywhere, in the house, in the park. Here Tallis explains something called PBHE or Post Bereavement Hallucinatory Experience. Furthermore, Tallis explains that people we loved [who passed away] have a subconscious place in our mind which can cause us to see or feel the persons presence because we were with them for a long period of time. Seeing the people we were close to makes us more comfortable and helps us grieve better. In the third chapter called The Woman Who Wasn’t There we see how the Delusional disorder: Jealous type takes effect on a woman who becomes obsessed with her boyfriend to a very extreme point. She becomes very jealous because her boyfriend doesn’t text her (even though he texts her every chance he gets), doesn’t tell her where he’s going etc. What we see is how a relationship can be ruined because of jealousy that consumes our subject. This chapter is very relatable to me because I find myself to be the same but not to that extreme. I found Anita’s concerns to be something I would be asking myself too but there were certain parts where her actions couldn’t be justified. There are many interesting stories in this book but sadly I can’t share them because this review would be long. Even though this book doesn’t offer solutions to problems each subject has it gives a fresh perspective on things like obsession, delusion, addiction, love.
I would complain about the lack of resolution to this problem because I really wanted to know more about each person I encountered in this book but psychoanalysis and therapy, as Tallis says, often fail when it comes to resolving certain problems but what they do is offer new insight into problem they try to cure.
It is safe to say that The Incurable Romantic is a book that offers an insight into obsessive love as well as historical background on psychological and biological factors that influence love and how people perceive and express it.
To anyone who enjoys reading books about psychology and is interested in human nature and how we perceive love should read The Incurable Romantic.
I would like to thank the publisher Little Brown UK for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions written here are my own and weren’t influenced by anything.
**I am in no way compensated by these sites. I am simply sharing it so people can find this book easier.
Dr. Frank Tallis is a writer and clinical psychologist. He has held lecturing posts in clinical psychology and neuroscience at the Institute of Psychiatry and King’s College, London. He has written self help manuals (How to Stop Worrying, Understanding Obsessions and Compulsions) non-fiction for the general reader (Changing Minds, Hidden Minds, Love Sick), academic text books and over thirty academic papers in international journals. Frank Tallis’ novels are: KILLING TIME (Penguin), SENSING OTHERS (Penguin), MORTAL MISCHIEF (Arrow), VIENNA BLOOD (Arrow), FATAL LIES (Arrow), and DARKNESS RISING (Arrow). The fifth volume of the Liebermann Papers, DEADLY COMMUNION, will be published in 2010. In 1999 he received a Writers’ Award from the Arts Council of Great Britain and in 2000 he won the New London Writers’ Award (London Arts Board). In 2005 MORTAL MISCHIEF was shortlisted for the Ellis Peters Historical Dagger Award.