Tell Me the Truth About Love by Susanna Abse
Susanna Abse is a psychoanalytic psychotherapist with over 30 years experience. Tell Me the Truth About Love are stories about people she has counselled over the years. They are not actually “true” but are stories that are representative of cases the author has seen over the years. She does state that they are about patterns of behaviour and problems she has seen many times. The stories are framed around classic folk tales such as Rapunzel, the return of the Prodigal Son, Dan Juan and the like. The background to the psychoanalytic approach here is Freud and Jung.
While the title suggests that this is a book about love it is really about relationships and human interactions. That actually includes the therapist herself who reflects on the impact her clients have on her. It is largely about couples therapy. The opening introduction sets out the outline of this book very nicely. I did enjoy the opening to each of the parts of this book. They are straightforward and succinct. Fragile Bonds, Betrayal and Flesh & Blood are the titles of the parts. There are then stories about therapy within those overall headings.
Ultimately I did find some of the stories interesting and some rather less so. Having read Tell Me the Truth About Love it is clear that I would probably not make a good therapist in this psychoanalytical sense. Susanna’s patience with some of her couples was remarkable and, while I can be empathetic, I am not as patient as her. In a number of the cases the sessions seemed to be very prolonged (and maybe that also affected my level of interest). I found her self analysis was frequently interesting. All in all I think this is possibly better for those with an interest or concern in therapy rather than a more “ordinary” reader.
I guess the purported connection with folk stories was unconvincing for me. It felt more like a concept than anything else. Over the years I have read other therapy books and some have held my attention more than this one did. That said I have no regrets about reading this and would suggest it would be something that others with an interest in the field generally might enjoy.
Note – I received an advance digital copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair review