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'Yalom's Cure' is a meditative immersion into a leading psychologist's life

 'Yalom's Cure' is a meditative immersion into a leading psychologist's life
Irvin David Yalom, existential psychologist, emeritus professor of psychiatry at Stanford Unversity and subject of "Yalom's Cure," a film by Sabine Gisiger. (First Run Pictures)

The proverb "physician, heal thyself" comes to mind while watching "Yalom's Cure," a fittingly meditative documentary portrait of psychotherapist-professor Irvin D. Yalom that offers a candid glimpse into the bestselling author's private life.

In peeling back the curtain on the existential psychologist's own challenges, director Sabine Gisiger serves up an introspective reading of the man, now 84, who sees himself as a guide on the voyage of self-explanation — one whose immigrant "passive father and overly-aggressive mother" helped chart an early course to be more engaged with patients.

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Incorporating archival footage to illustrate his groundbreaking work in group psychotherapy at Stanford during the 1960s, the film is at its most revealing when focusing on Yalom's more personal endeavors.

Though the nature lover has been married to his high school sweetheart, Marilyn, for more than 60 years, their three adult children would concur with their dad's observation that "there's infinite difference between standing in love and falling in love."

All of their marriages ended in divorce.

Traveling from his greenery-ensconced Palo Alto private practice to idyllic family vacation and writing homes in France and Hawaii, the attractively photographed "Yalom's Cure" dispenses an intricate fusion of the past and present that informs our own everyday existence.

For the Record

March 11, 10:36 a.m.: An incorrect photo accompanied an earlier version of this review.

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'Yalom's Cure'

No rating

Running time: 1 hour, 14 minutes

Playing: Laemmle Music Hall, Beverly Hills

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