Yalom had a patient whose life was ending. Yalom wanted desperately to get this patient to take some pride in his life, but the patient was throwing up every possible barrier. One day the patient went to group therapy, led by a young woman. A member of the group confided that she had just been raped. The young woman leading the group--anxious to try to get this member to talk--began to describe her own rape, which had occurred years earlier. Yalom's cancer patient--the one who was dying--became more and more agitated. He began to ask both rape victims lurid questions about their attacks. He indicated that he was getting off on the information they were sharing. Eventually, he said, "I think rape isn't a big deal. Come on. Didn't you enjoy it? If rape were legal, I would do it all the time. I would fuck everyone in sight."
This caused a big uproar. The group leader went to Yalom and said she wasn't sure she could tolerate having the cancer patient in the group. Yalom confronted the cancer patient with complaints about his behavior.
At first, the patient fought back. He claimed he'd meant everything he had said.
Yalom tried several tactics: You can't honestly believe rape should be legal? Did it occur to you how you would come off to the other members of the group? Would you want your seventeen-year-old daughter to live in a world where rape was legal?
At this, the cancer patient began to crumble. He disclosed that he had not shared with the other members of the group that he was dying. It emerged that he--the cancer patient--took his sense of self-worth from his virility, and as his virility drained from him, he needed to become more and more delusional w/r/t his own sex appeal.
Yalom was somewhat harsh with the cancer patient. He pointed out that the patient's lymph nodes were visibly swollen, and that the patient was entirely bald. He basically said, "You're not going to have any more sex. You're...