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Summers, F. (1997). The Language Of Perversion And The Language Of Love. By Sheldon Bach. Northvale, NJ: Aronson, 1994, xxi + 188 pp., $40.00.. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 45:261-265.

(1997). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 45:261-265

The Language Of Perversion And The Language Of Love. By Sheldon Bach. Northvale, NJ: Aronson, 1994, xxi + 188 pp., $40.00.

Review by:
Frank Summers

The thesis of The Language of Perversion and the Language of Love is that much character pathology can be understood as derailment from the path toward whole object love to perverted object relationships. According to Sheldon Bach, the fundamental developmental issue for such patients is the failure to resolve separation from the maternal figure. Denial of this separation leads to disavowed, split-off object seeking for the lost figure in one of several forms of perverted object relationship. The result is a split ego that cannot achieve object constancy or neutralize aggression, rendering whole object love impossible. Lacking the object constancy required for mature object love, patients with split egos use the object to patch their ego defects. In the language of perversion, others are technical instruments, not separate people. Whereas for Freud perversion was the obverse of neurosis, for Bach perversion is the opposite of mature love. Bach believes that perverted object relationships may assume a variety of forms, including not only sadomasochism and sexual perversions, but also narcissistic character disorders, anorexia-bulimia, and borderline personality disorders.

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