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Young-Bruehl, E. (1998). Like Subjects, Love Objects: Essays on Recognition and Sexual Difference. By Jessica Benjamin. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1995, 234 pp., $35.00 hardcover, $16.00 softcover. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 46(2):634-638.

(1998). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 46(2):634-638

Like Subjects, Love Objects: Essays on Recognition and Sexual Difference. By Jessica Benjamin. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1995, 234 pp., $35.00 hardcover, $16.00 softcover

Review by:
Elisabeth Young-Bruehl

This volume collects the essays Jessica Benjamin has written since The Bonds of Love appeared in 1988. Like Subjects, Love Objects is at once a critical review of the earlier book's leading ideas, a statement of their implications, a survey of the author's ideational terrain as it has evolved over the last ten years, and a new effort to situate her ideas in order to influence how that terrain will be understood.

Benjamin is a theorist. She certainly makes reference to her psychoanalytic practice, drawing from it one-sentence vignettes, presenting an interesting extended dream interpretation, and trying to suggest how her ideas affect her practice, but primarily she is a theorist. So she gets oriented in theory, and for her that means in three traditions—one evolving from late-nineteenth-century Hegelian Marxism down through the Frankfurt School, Marcuse, and Habermas; a feminist one generated in the wake of de Beauvoir's The Second Sex and now drawing on post-modernist French philosophy (particularly as it concentrates on how selves are historically and discursively constructed); and one growing from Freud into the interpersonal and cultural Freudian schools of America in the 1950s, Winnicott and the British Middle Group in the 1960s, and on into what is now known as a “relational perspective.” Because her work, like a great river, draws on many tributaries, it offers psychoanalytic readers an excellent perspective on what might be called “the widening scope of psychoanalytic theory.

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