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The Incurable Romantic

The Incurable Romantic

‘Frank Tallis brings a lifetime’s clinical experience and wise reflection to a condition that, by its own strange routes, leads us into the very heart of love itself. This is a brilliant, compelling book’ Ian McEwan

Love is a great leveller. Everyone wants love, everyone falls in love, everyone loses love, and everyone knows something of love’s madness. But the experience of obsessive love is no trivial matter. In the course of his career psychologist Dr Frank Tallis has treated many unusual patients, whose stories have lessons for all of us.

A barristers’ clerk becomes convinced that her dentist has fallen in love with her and they are destined to be together for eternity; a widow is visited by the ghost of her dead husband; an academic is besotted with his own reflection; a beautiful woman searches jealously for a rival who isn’t there; and a night porter is possessed by a lascivious demon. These are just some of the people whom we meet in an extraordinary and original book that explores the conditions of longing and desire – true accounts of psychotherapy that take the reader on a journey through the darker realms of the amorous mind.

Drawing on the latest scientific research into the biological and psychological mechanisms underlying romance and emotional attachment, The Incurable Romantic demonstrates that ultimately love dissolves the divide between what we judge to be normal and abnormal.
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Reviews

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 . . . but they have helped turn him into a fine writer . . . 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 . . . They are certainly enough here to create something that feels profoundly truthful. Something that feels, in fact, like an act of love
Christina Patterson, Sunday Times
Eye-opening stories of lovesickness, rampant sex, and obsessions with inappropriate partners
Guardian
Frank, informative and often bleakly funny
Helen Brown, Telegraph
Like a 70s Woody Allen movie, hilarious and tragic - strangely compelling
Libreria London
A gifted storyteller . . . Tallis's characters remain sharply, painfully real, their stories as inconclusive, messy and fascinating as life
The Economist
Outstanding
Strong Words
His case studies are fascinating
Michelle Paver
Tallis's book reminded me of Do No Harm by the neurosurgeon Henry Marsh . . . Through these cases Tallis makes a strong case that "love" can be the cause of great distress in many ways. He intersperses the cases with observations from history, literature, and scientific reports, making for an enjoyable, entertaining, and informative read
Richard Smith, British Medical Journal Opinion
Fascinating and beautifully written
Brett Anderson
Astute, self-deprecating and funny
Jane O’Grady, Literary Review
Tallis's book is about what happens when these perfectly ordinary feelings become warped, excessive, and unmanageable in some of his patients, and as you can imagine, it's pretty gripping . . . The great thing about The Incurable Romantic is that it makes you feel better about yourself. Whether you're happily or unhappily married, happily or unhappily single, involved in an adulterous relationship with another person or even several other people, you're doing better than these guys
Nick Hornby
Compelling
Susie Orbach
A hugely entertaining, informative and often disturbing look at love in some of its strangest forms. Can't recommend it enough
Mark Billingham
Thoughtful . . . 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
Publishers Weekly
Will interest anyone who wants to know what makes people tick . . . The Incurable Romantic earns its place in the fine tradition of popular psychoanalytic writing . . . an amiable and acute guide to the madness of love
The Times
I have enjoyed The Incurable Romantic, in which psychotherapist Frank Tallis opens his casebook. There have been quite a few such books recently, most of them overpraised and not as well written as their admirers claim. But Tallis writes with clarity and wit about the morbid condition of love, which emerges here as a kind of mental disorder . . . riveting stuff
Sebastian Faulks, Guardian
Frank Tallis draws his characters with such wit and skill that at times it reminded me of novels such as The Collector or Enduring Love
Brett Anderson, Guardian
Frank Tallis brings a lifetime's clinical experience and wise reflection to a condition that, by its own strange routes, leads us into the very heart of love itself. This is a brilliant, compelling book
Ian McEwan
[Tallis is] a brilliant raconteur with an acute ear for dialogue and sleuth-like capabilities. Only someone who has never felt sick falling head over heels, suffered the agonising pangs of jealousy, battled bestial fogs of lust or wallowed in the delirious happiness of being entwined with the object of their love could fail to be fascinated
Evening Standard
This fascinating memoir peers deep into the dark heart of love
Herald