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Mintz, E.E. (1980-81). Obsession With the Rejecting Beloved. Psychoanal. Rev., 67(4):479-492.

(1980-81). Psychoanalytic Review, 67(4):479-492

Obsession With the Rejecting Beloved

Elizabeth E. Mintz, Ph.D.

Every practicing analyst, as well as every novelist and poet, is familiar with the phenomenon of unrequited love, yet this condition has been more often described than psychoanalytically explored. This paper presents five cases from the writer's recent or current practice in which unrequited love reached the proportions of an obsession, so intense and so prolonged as to be a primary reason for entering treatment. Among these women there exist certain common denominators that may justify us in regarding this condition as a specific pathological syndrome and in speculating as to its etiology.

All the women described here were seen in psychoanalytic psychotherapy, one to three sessions a week, for periods ranging from several months to two or more years. Other cases from my earlier practice have exhibited a similar syndrome. Several additional cases were men, whose obsession with a rejecting woman was equally persistent, painful, and unrealistic. It seems probable that, inasmuch as the etiological factors here hypothesized go back to preoedipal and even preverbal stages, at which there is little or no conscious awareness of sexual identity, the dynamics of the syndrome are similar in men and in women. However, as this paper offers only a preliminary exploration of the topic, the cases to be described are limited to women for the sake of simplicity.


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