A ""self-knowledge"" foray that speaks primarily to overeaters ignorant of their compulsions or of social pressures: persuasive enough within that framework, but weak on specific remedies. Meridee Merzer pinpoints the emotional perks that different foods have come to represent--homemade stew for security, pizza as a ""belonging"" group activity--and the insidious double message that pervades our culture: women's magazines hawk the latest dieting plan on a cover full of fattening goodies; clothes are fashoned to compliment the thin, while food pervades the social and business gatherings to which we wear them. And there is plenty of frank talk about the compulsive/emotional eating syndrome: anxiety-based overeating generates the guilt that reactivates the anxiety, etc. But Merzer goes on categorizing these unfortunate creatures--from ""The Rebel with a Cause"" through more than two dozen not-all-that-different prototypes--until we wish she had stuck to her meat-and-potatoes description of the basic compulsive impulse. And given the fact that ""about 90 percent of all successful dieters. . . will regain the weight they've so arduously lost within two years,"" her sensible 1200-calorie, four-food-group ""best diet"" seems, at best, a gesture--though preferable to most of the 121 desperate-sounding alternative strategies (#7. ""Learn bird calls. #20. Practice the occult arts--numerology, astrology, tarot""). For a general orientation only.