Relationships fall apart, marriages fail, couples break up – it happens to us all. Time corrodes passion and the routines of daily life kill the excitement that surrounds the emotion of the first encounter. The difficulty of uniting sexual pleasure with love, which Freud considered to be the most common neurosis in any love life, has become emblematic of a truth that seems undeniable: desire is destined to die if its object is not constantly renewed, if we do not change partner, if it is closed for too long in the restrictive chamber of the same bond.
And yet what happens to these bonds when one of the two partners betrays the other, when the promise fails, when there is another emotional experience cloaked in secrecy and deceit? What happens if the traitor then begs forgiveness? Are they asking to be loved again and, having declared that it is not like it used to be, now want everything to go back to how it was? Should we make fun of lovers in their attempts to make love last? Or should we try to face up to the experience of betrayal, with the offence caused by the person we love most? Should we not perhaps attempt to praise forgiveness in love?
Fascinating and provocative, this book sizzles with critical passion. It is fed by a deep knowledge of the vagaries of love in our nihilistic, hyper-hedonist times and by psychoanalytic insight. The addition of riveting cases makes this a pithy and important work.
—Lisa Appignanesi, author of Everyday Madness
1. The Ideology of the New
The Contemporary Degradation of Love Lives; Resignation or Dopamine?; Narcissistic Love; Two Lies in Our Time; The New Libertine Ideology; Love as Resistance to the Libertine Worship of the New
2. Encounter and Destiny
Love as Oedipal Repetition; Falling in Love with Ourselves; The Scream of Life; The Debate over Barolo; The Sexual Relationship Does Not Exist; We Are Loved Not Because of Something, But ‘Because of Everything’; The Loving Encounter is the Birth of a World; Disappointed Love;
The Eros of the Encounter; Fidelity; The Face and the Eternal
3. Trauma and Abandonment
A Captive Freedom?; Albertine; Is the Promise of Love Always False?; Is the Promise of Love Always False?; “It’s Not Like It Used To Be”; What Is A Trauma?; The First Blow; Trauma is the Flipside of Repression; Trauma in Love; Falling into Non-Sense; The Fall This Side of the Mirror; A Wound With No Cure; Abandonment
4. The Work of Forgiveness
Courageous Love; The Adulterous Woman; To Forgive the Unforgiveable?; Reflection by the Subject; The Impossibility of Forgiving Out Of Love; The Work of Forgiveness and The Work of Mourning; Forgiveness and Gratitude; Why Men Find It More Difficult to Forgive; Violence Without Law; Violence and Love; The Tender Assassin; Absolute Exposure to Love; Virgil’s Gloves; Narcissism and Depression; Woman’s Foreign Language; “They Are All Whores!”; Killing Them In Order To ‘Love’ Them; The Joy of Forgiveness?; Forgiving Oneself
About the Author
Massimo Recalcati is a bestselling author and psychoanalyst who teaches at the universities of Pavia and Verona.