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Stein, R. (1998). The Enigmatic Dimension of Sexual Experience: The “Otherness” of Sexuality and Primal Seduction. Psychoanal Q., 67(4):594-625.

(1998). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 67(4):594-625

The Enigmatic Dimension of Sexual Experience: The “Otherness” of Sexuality and Primal Seduction

Ruth Stein, Ph.D.

Sexual experience has an “otherness” about it that distinguishes it from daily, habitual modes of experiencing and relating. This paper attempts to use Freud's and Laplanche's theories of primal seduction by the mother, who sends an “enigmatic signifier” or message of her sexuality to the child whom she nurtures. A tension arc is created between bodily sensations and the enigmatic other carrying over into adult life and constituting a bedrock for the sense of enigma and unfathomableness and the sense of the profound revelation that sometimes accompanies sexual experience. The author articulates links with transference and countertransference forms and offers new possibilities of understanding some clinical phenomena.

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