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Pickles, P. (2009). Pickering, Judith. Being in Love. Therapeutic Pathways through Psychological Obstacles to Love. London & New York: Routledge, 2008. Pp xv + 272. Hbk. £pD55 / $77-40. Pbk. £pD21.99 / $39.95.. J. Anal. Psychol., 54(3):422-423.

(2009). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 54(3):422-423

Pickering, Judith. Being in Love. Therapeutic Pathways through Psychological Obstacles to Love. London & New York: Routledge, 2008. Pp xv + 272. Hbk. £pD55 / $77-40. Pbk. £pD21.99 / $39.95.

Review by:
Penny Pickles

Pickering's book provides a rich and varied diet of ideas around being a couple and in couples therapy. She writes both as a psychoanalytic couples psychotherapist and a Jungian analyst. She takes her ideas from the Greek language, philosophy and mythology, the French philosopher Levinas, the Lacanians, Bion, Jung, Fairbairn, Winnicott, Buber and Buddhism, to name but a few of her sources. The title of the book is slightly ambiguous according to where one puts the emphasis. Is it about being ‘in love’ in the everyday sense of its use, or about ‘being’ in ‘love’? To my mind Pickering means the latter or as she puts it, a becoming in love, which is a far more complicated matter. Many can fall in love, but to stay in a loving relationship requires much more effort. She writes (p. 5):

The work of love involves removing all that obscures the truth of who we are. Revelation of the real person behind our projections is appointment, not disappointment. Real relationships with real others … shock us out of our complacency.

The book is written in three parts. Part I, ‘Being in love’, provides the metapsychological and philosophical background to her intermingling ideas. She explores the meanings of love, alterity, intersubjectivity and exogamy and their interdependence. She considers that true love requires a marriage of altruism and alterity. Altruism she defines as caring for the other beyond oneself, and alterity as the ability to combine empathy and the concept of otherness. She uses the Greek word alëtheia, meaning the un-concealed, as a metaphor for truth in order really to relate with Other as a subject in his/her own right. This entails uncovering projections, distortions, defences, Oedipal and narcissistic behaviours, and all the other ruses we use to try to make the Other into the one we want him/her to be. It is only by leaving the old, familiar defences behind that we can undertake the ‘teleological endeavour towards becoming in O, to find and make a relationship in which both partners are transformed and made more authentic in their loving’ (p. 65), the achievement of an exogamous relationship.

Part II, ‘The path of love: an obstacle course’, develops what she calls a therapeutic of love, illustrating destructive endogamous patterns and the many obstacles we put in the way of open relating or exogamous love.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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