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Gentile, J. (2016). The Erotically Reconceived Familiar Stranger: Reply to Ringstrom and Slavin. Int. J. Psychoanal. Self Psychol., 11(3):239-247.

(2016). International Journal of Psychoanalytic Self Psychology, 11(3):239-247

The Erotically Reconceived Familiar Stranger: Reply to Ringstrom and Slavin

Jill Gentile, Ph.D.

By viewing attachment theory in terms of its implicit semiotics of desire, we discover an avenue for reconciliation between attachment theory and contemporary psychoanalysis. My discussants, Ringstrom and Slavin, both affirm this quest, joining in articulating a dialectical conception of how attachment and desire, relationship and drive, mutually constitute each other. Ringstrom elaborates my thesis particularly in relation to his own signature theorizing on couples’ treatment and calls attention to the conundrum of insistent demand and the “Pandora’s Box” of mutuality of desire. Slavin contextualizes my call within a larger existential framework, linking exploratory probings to mortal terrors. Both discussants highlight how high the stakes are in any genuine encounter between the known and the still unknown. Yet, by encompassing the erotics of the Oedipal triangle and its dialectics of the familiar-stranger, a more robust conception of attachment security emerges situated in a third space between drive and attachment, existential dread and relational connection, desire and reunion, even as we discover their inextricable union.

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