Relational Perspectives Book Series Vol. 22
Can contemporary psychoanalysis tell us anything about sexuality that is new and clinically meaningful? It most certainly can, answers Muriel Dimen in Sexuality, Intimacy, Power, a compelling attempt to revivify Freud's root interest in "sexual impulses" in the ordinary sense of the term. But there is nothing ordinary about Dimen's project. Drawing on feminism, postmodernism, and contemporary relational theory, she takes a sustained and irreverent look at hallowed assumptions about psychosexuality. For Dimen, the paradigm shift from dualism to multiplicity that has reshaped a range of disciplines must now be brought to bear on our thinking about sexuality. We must return to the open-mindedness hiding between the lines and buried in the footnotes of Freud's writings, and thereby replace the determinism to which his thought gave rise with contemporary notions of contingency, paradox, and thirdness. (p> By setting psychoanalysis, social theory, and feminism in conversation-or, rather, by unveiling the colloquy that has always taken place among them-Dimen challenges clinicians and academicians alike to rethink ideas about gender, eroticism, and perversion. To this end, she explores, among other topics, the relations between Lust and libido; the limitations of Darwinian thought in theorizing homosexuality; the body as projective test; and the intimate tangle of love and hate between women. Generous clinical examples illustrate how a radical re-visioning of psychosexuality benefits therapist and patient alike.
In tune with recent currents of psychoanalytic and postmodern criticism, this book's medium is its message. Dimen draws on a variety of disciplines and employs diverse literary styles to delineate the ambiguities, contradictions, and paradoxes that subtend sexuality in all its personal and clinical complexity. Of special note is her deft interweaving of recent psychoanalytic contributions (emerging from both modern Freudian and relational traditions) with insights gleaned from contemporary philosophy and social theory. Dimen's introductory essay, theoretically astute and richly personal, historicizes her unique perspective and modes of expression in terms of the clinical, intellectual, and political events of the 1960s and 1970s. A brilliant example of contemporary psychoanalytic theory at its destabilizing best, Sexuality, Intimacy, Power is equally a historical document that will intrigue and enlighten students of women's, gender, and queer studies.
For a book to be both postmodernist and accessible is in itself a triumph. To be enlightening and personal and to reconfigure the territory of sex, intimacy, and power is a major achievement. If you read only one book on sex and gender this year, this is the one. - Ethel Spector Person, M.D., Author of Feeling Strong: The Achievement of Authentic Powers -- from the publisher
About the Author:
Muriel Dimen, Ph.D. Adjunct Professor of Clinical Psychology at New York University, is an Associate Editor of Psychoanalytic Dialogues and an Executive Editor of Studies in Gender and Sexuality. She is the author of The Anthropological Imagination (1977) and Surviving Sexual Contradictions (1986) and is the coeditor of several collections, most recently Gender in Psychoanalytic Space (2002, with Virginia Goldner).