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Stoller, R.J. (1973). Sex and Dehumanization: By David Holbrook. London: Pitman. 1972.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 54:121-122.

(1973). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 54:121-122

Sex and Dehumanization: By David Holbrook. London: Pitman. 1972.

Review by:
Robert J. Stoller

Holbrook's thesis is this: when, out of anxiety (neurosis or psychosis), we dehumanize our sexual objects, we minimize ourselves and forgo the best of being human—the capacity to love. Thus, he says, it hardly serves society to encourage its own dissolution by propaganda for libertinism, by pornography, by irresponsible loosening of the laws, or by laboratory research on human sexual behaviour. On the other hand, if we discourage dehumanization by curbing unlimited infantile sexuality in children, adolescents and adults, our reward will be the power of love. Such a stand is courageous if not almost suicidal, for, in opposing the right to perversion, Holbrook tries to impede a powerful impulse moving our society. Articulating such conservatism, he not only asks for attack from the new intellectual and moral majorities, but he must also abide, as colleagues, the political Neanderthals who for generations have held the same ground he defends.

Theoretical support for his argument comes from two groups which usually do not lie down together: the inspirational psychologists (such as May, Polanyi, and Frankl) and psychoanalysts (especially Freud and Khan). From the first persuasion, whose basic premise is that man is good when not corrupted, he draws the moral strength to ask for 'sanctions' to preserve this good, arguing that love, with its lasting commitment to another's presence, requires sexual restraint. And so, if we are to preserve what is most valuable in human relations, we must oppose the enemy of love—sexual licence ('fascistic', 'schizoid', 'delusional').

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