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Balint, M. (1948). On Genital Love. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 29:34-40.

(1948). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 29:34-40

On Genital Love

Michael Balint

If one reads the psycho-analytical literature for references to genital love to one's surprise two striking facts emerge; (a) much less has been written on genital love than on pregenital love (e.g. 'genital love' is missing from the indices of Fenichel's new text-book); and of Nunberg's Allgemeine Neurosenlehre); (b) almost everything that has been written on genital love is negative like Abraham's description of his famous term 'postambivalent phase'. We know fairly well what an ambivalent love relation is—of postambivalent love we know hardly more than that it is, or at least ought to be, no longer ambivalent.

This emphasis on the negative qualities, i.e. on those which have, or ought to have been, superseded in the course of development blurs the whole picture. It is not the presence of certain positive qualities that is accentuated only the absence of certain others.

To avoid this pitfall let us examine an ideal case of such postambivalent genital love that has no traces of ambivalency and in addition no traces of pregenital object relationship:

a. There should be no greediness, no insatiability, no wish to devour the object, to deny it any independent existence, etc., i.e. there should be no oral features;

b. There should be no wish to hurt, to humiliate, to boss, to dominate the object, etc., i.e. no sadistic features;

c. There should be no wish to defile the partner, to despise him (her) for his (her) sexual desires and pleasures, there should be no danger of being disgusted by the partner or being attracted only by some unpleasant features of him, etc.

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