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Johns, J. (1997). The Many Faces of Eros. By Joyce McDougall. London: Free Association Books. 1995. Pp. 257.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 78:1057-1059.

(1997). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 78:1057-1059

The Many Faces of Eros. By Joyce McDougall. London: Free Association Books. 1995. Pp. 257.

Review by:
Jennifer Johns

‘Human sexuality is inherently traumatic.’ These are the first words in Joyce McDougall's book. Towards the end, she reminds us that, ‘all symptoms are attempts at self-cure in the face of unavoidable mental pain’. McDougall sees psychic life as a series of conflicts arising throughout development and in need of different strategies at each stage in order for the subject to survive and prosper as an individual. The multiplicity of possible responses and solutions to the repeated conflicts in psychosexual development gives rise to her title, The Many Faces of Eros.

In her prologue to this book McDougall focuses on her metaphor of psychoanalysis as a journey, a voyage, and draws a parallel with the journey of sexuality itself, which, in repeated need of solutions, is engaged in an eternal quest. Her book is not so much a map of that quest as a travel book, reminding us of the efforts of the earliest explorers of these strange lands, and in her clinical examples relating the vicissitudes of the journeys in which she has travelled alongside her own patients, sharing their pain, mapping their internal territories, the deserts, internal monsters and seemingly impassable barriers that have led them to their present plight. As such a travel companion, she shows her knowledge of and sympathy for her patients and their internal territories, and by showing those of us engaged on similar explorations and mapmaking expeditions the theoretical and practical equipment that she uses, as well as her techniques of use, she once more intrigues us with the exposition of her skills, and encourages us on our own way.

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