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Sklansky, M.A. (1977). The Alchemy of Love: Transmutation of the Elements in Adolescents and Young Adults. Ann. Psychoanal., 5:77-103.

(1977). Annual of Psychoanalysis, 5:77-103

II Clinical Theory

The Alchemy of Love: Transmutation of the Elements in Adolescents and Young Adults

Morris A. Sklansky, M.D.

As is well known, the intensity of passionate love is greater during adolescence and young adulthood than during other phases of life. In order to demonstrate the elements of erotic and transmuted narcissistic libido that are found in a variety of the peak love experiences of these young persons, I shall present some paraphrased excerpts from the associations of adolescents and young adults within the limits imposed by the requirements of confidentiality. I shall then make some generalizations and theoretical formulations about these observations.

Although the experience of “love” is reported in every psychoanalysis, the sample of such reports from any individual psychoanalyst's practice is relatively small.

John Alan Lee (1974), a psychologist, has recently researched the subject, collecting 4,000 statements about love from world literature. He concludes that everyone thinks he himself knows the “real thing” and is reluctant to accept the notions of others. But he found that the many different kinds of love can be classified into six groups. He categorized them as erotic, obsessive, playful, compassionate, altruistic, and pragmatic. He also distinguished three combinations, or mixes, of these. For our purposes I will highlight the most significant aspects of his descriptions.

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