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Tarachow, S. (1947). Reik, Theodor. A Psychologist Looks at Love. [New York: Farrar and Rinehart, Inc.]. Psychoanal. Rev., 34(2):244-245.

(1947). Psychoanalytic Review, 34(2):244-245

Reik, Theodor. A Psychologist Looks at Love. [New York: Farrar and Rinehart, Inc.]

Review by:
Sidney Tarachow

This book not only offers the author's conception of love, but also pretends to be a polemic against Freudian psychoanalysis and introduces what is purported to be Neo-psychoanalysis. A number of psychoanalytic concepts are attacked, chief among them being the libido theory and the relationships of love to narcism and to aim-inhibited sexuality. No clinical material is adduced though there is an overgenerous sprinkling of philosophical and literary quotations.

In essence Reik's formulation is that love is a masochistic solution of extreme hostility to a superior and more powerful object. Self-depreciation is a necessary prerequisite for love. Love is a rescue from self-hate by a union with a superior being who more closely approaches the ego ideal than the subject does. Repressed envy and hatred are necessary, as are guilt feelings. Love is impermanent and impossible between equals. Reik offers a quotation from Goethe as most succinctly expressing his concept, “There is no means of safety against the superior qualities of another person than to love him.” The biological aspects of sex are hastily brushed aside. The absurd conclusion to be drawn from Reik's formulation would be that the cure of a patient's tendencies to hostile introjection and masochism would destroy his capacity for love.

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