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Britton, R.S. (1997). Love Relations: Normality And Pathology. By Otto F. Kernberg. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1995, xv+ 203 pp., $32.50.. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 45:1334-1337.

(1997). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 45:1334-1337

Love Relations: Normality And Pathology. By Otto F. Kernberg. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1995, xv+ 203 pp., $32.50.

Review by:
Ronald S. Britton

Otto Kernberg is well known for his large-scale endeavors to encompass the phenomenology of psychoanalytic psychiatry and to include within his account of it diverse schools of psychoanalytic thought. This book is as ambitious in its scope as anything he has written. Some might say he is now tackling the first half of psychoanalysis, having already addressed the second half in Aggression in Personality Disorders and Perversion.

This book aims to cover sexuality; gender; the development of a capacity for love; the psychopathology of love; the basis of marriage and its vicissitudes; transference love; and the social implications of coupling. He clears the ground with a review of the neurobiology of sexuality and of current social and psychoanalytic theories of gender identity before beginning his main task, which is to describe the development and psychopathology of mature sexual love and its apotheosis in the marriage of the heterosexual couple.

To do this Kernberg gives an account of his combined theory of drive and object relations. He uses Braunschweig and Fain's theory of the infantile development of sexual difference between the genders; approves and adopts Henry Dicks's work on couples in the London Tavistock marital unit; draws on his own considerable experience with the vicissitudes of the loving relationships of borderline and narcissistic patients; and brings to his subject many other psychoanalytic writings, including his own. The detail is considerable and the canvas wide. The work seems at times too discursive, but the overarching scheme remains evident—namely, an account of the origins of sexual love from gender differentiation in the fetus to the consummation of love in the union of the adult couple and the vicissitudes of marriage.

Given the book's scope, I will restrict my focus to points about which I have some questions.

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