Love Relations

Normality and Pathology

Otto Kernberg

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March 30, 1998
220 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
ISBN: 9780300074352
Paper

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Dr. Otto Kernberg, the internationally renowned psychoanalytic theorist and clinician, here examines the success and failure of sexual love in couples, from adolescence to old age.

Dr. Kernberg considers the two partners' conscious and unconscious emotional interactions and their unconsciously activated superego interactions. He also suggests that they establish a joint ego ideal as a couple, which plays an important role in the success of the relationship. And because the couple experiences love and sex in the context of the social environment, he studies the nature of relations between the couple and the group.

After describing the biological and psychological determinants and elements of the sexual experience, Dr. Kernberg traces the nature of that experience over time in the light of object relations theory. He shows how the activation of unconscious, internalized object relations from the past triggers the most troubling conflicts and is also responsible for the most exciting aspects of a couple's love life. Throughout, Dr. Kernberg considers both so-called normal and pathological relationships, including the role of narcissism, masochism, and aggression in each. The result is a book that expands the boundaries of our current understanding of love relations.

Otto F. Kernberg, M.D., is a training and supervising analyst at the Columbia University Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research, professor of psychiatry at Cornell University Medical College, and director of the Institute for Personality Disorders at the New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center, Westchester Division. He is the author or co-author of ten books, including Severe Personality Disorders: Psychotherapeutic Strategies and Aggression in Personality Disorders and Perversions, published by Yale University Press.

"Kernberg's is arguably the richest psychoanalytic text on 'love' (in whatever way we may choose to define this most abused of words) since Freud's Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality."—Andrea Sabbadini, British Journal of Psychotherapy

"A creative, stimulating, readable contribution, suitable for practicing psychotherapists."—D. Sydiaha, University of Saskatchewan

"An extraordinary, long-needed, cutting-edge book. . . . Kernberg brings competence and success as a clinician to offer help to professionals who, with new insights, can guide the successful therapy of patients. . . . This book will remain a classic in the field for decades."—Leah J. Dickstein, Psychiatric Times

"It is an extremely wide-ranging book, spanning from a biological perspective to the socio-cultural, and it is interesting to read both personally and professionally."—Ricky Emanuel, British Journal of Psychiatry

"In Love Relations the reader will find a wealth of information, with many fascinating excursions into the metapsychology of normal and pathological love relations. Experienced psychoanalysts and candidates in psychoanalytic training can benefit from the synthesis and transcendence of ideas here. Readers form outside the field of psychoanalysis will be surprised by the range of interdisciplinary and intradisciplinary contributions to a very successful project. Evaluated form within the borders of psychoanalytic scholarship, Love Relations is a monumental achievement."—Maurice Apprey, Psychoanalytic Books

"Love Relations-Normality and Pathology, like Kernberg's previous works, offers considerable food for thought about theory and clinical practice with individuals and couples. It is also an excellent resource for other writers and researchers on this and related subjects. This volume, like Kernberg's earlier works, will be a valued resource for many years to come. Those interested in the compelling subject of love relations should not miss the riches offered here."—Barbara H. Gold, Journal of Analytic Social Work

"In this monograph, Kernberg has taken the seeds of earlier works on topics such as sexual excitement, mature love, psychopathology of the couple, masochism, narcissism, and group dynamics to cultivate a fertile tour de force on the vicissitudes of love. . . . This author's trenchant overview of the biological, psychosocial, and psychodynamic aspects of erotic desire is not to be missed. Kernberg spends the entirety of the book reworking his conceptualizations of the discontinuities, pathological role fixations, superego functions and dysfunctions, and societal challenges faced by heterosexual couples. . . . Those readers particularly interested in the dynamics of perversion will delight in Kernberg's discussion of pornography, mass culture, and the conventional couple."—Kathryn J. Zerbe, Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic

"[Love Relations: Normality and Pathology] leaves us with feelings of satisfaction and encouragement that such an important area as love relations has been opened up and addresses in a psychoanalytically thoughtful and creative way."—Michal Lapinski, Australian Journal of Psychotherapy

"Reading Kernberg as a voice, as one account among others, and one with no conceptual hegemony in regard to love, makes Love Relations a compelling narrative, possessed of familiar contours, some notable inconsistencies, and a few surprises."—Daniel J. Rothenberg, Contemporary Psychoanalysis

"A creative, stimulating, readable contribution, suitable for practicing psychotherapists."—Choice

Shortlisted for the 1996 Gradiva Award given by the National Association for the Advancement of Psychoanalysis
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