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Crastnopol, M. (2004). Sexuality, intimacy, power by Muriel Dimen Hillsdale, NJ: Analytic Press. 2003. 336 pp.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 85(3):786-790.

(2004). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 85(3):786-790

Sexuality, intimacy, power by Muriel Dimen Hillsdale, NJ: Analytic Press. 2003. 336 pp.

Review by:
Margaret Crastnopol

Sexuality, intimacy and power—these about sum up the human condition. In Muriel Dimen's hands, the three are not merely topics or motives, they are lenses through which much human functioning can be scrutinized. A relational psychoanalyst noted for her keen observations on gender and sexuality, Dimen offers us a diverse, wide-ranging set of essays that share a common, original tone and thrust.

The prologue—often a book's weakest link—is in this case a sweeping and ambitious essay in its own right. It orients Dimen's topics with respect to three coordinates—social theory (specifically Marxism), psychoanalysis, and feminism. The ‘sexuality’ of the title maps onto feminism, ‘intimacy’ onto psychoanalysis, and ‘power’ onto social theory. The author alerts us that she will employ the postmodernist method of ‘heteroglossia’, speaking from the multiple vantage points of ethnography, scholarly discourse, clinical experience, and her personal voice. Her aim is to reinforce her viewpoint organically by having ‘form follow function’. That is to say, Dimen feels that approaching a given issue via divergent pathways will give us the range of perspectives needed to comprehend the issue's true complexity. With refreshing candor, she warns us that ‘any given reader may find some ideas new and others yesterday's news’ (p. 3). She is rightly anticipating that each of us is likely to have his/her unique response both to the author's method and ideas.

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