Love's Executioner & Other Tales of Psychotherapy by Irvin D. Yalom, M.D., Basic Books, Inc, New York, 1989, $19.95

Reviewed by John A. Speyrer

The seventh book by psychiatrist and Stanford Medical School professor, Irvin Yalom, Love's Executioner contains ten interesting case studies from his private practice

Unfortunately, all of the studies are merely superficial analyses of his patient's acting out behaviors, and no attempt is made to get to the "real" story pushing the behavior. Yalom believes that a therapist helps ". . . not by sifting through the past but by being lovingly present with that person; by being trustworthy, interested; and by believing that their joint activity will ultimately be redemptive and healing."

He says this about deep feelings. "The drama . . . for any cathartic . . . project is healing only because it provides therapist and patient with some interesting shared activity while the real therapeutic force---the relationship---is ripening on the tree."

So how does therapy heal? Dr. Yalom believes it's the teaching relationship between the patient and the therapist that does the trick.

But despite its limited approach to psychotherapy, Yalom's book is well written and interesting even though most of his patients and the therapist himself seem to be suffering from existential problems!

Love's Executioner contains many interesting dream interpretations, but they mostly deal with the here and now. It's a perfect read for a lazy afternoon - - - but just do so without any illusions that you will ever get much beyond the patient's defenses.