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Binstock, W.A. (1973). On the Two Forms of Intimacy. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 21:93-107.

(1973). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 21:93-107

On the Two Forms of Intimacy

William A. Binstock, M.D.


The pursuit of union, a pervasive theme in human psychology, is examined from the adaptational point of view by relating it to both oral and genital intimacy. The extreme dependency of the infant creates, through separation anxiety and consequent strivings for fusion, a lifelong threat to autonomy, and generates diverse searches for blissful union, which share a mystical character and a fear of annihilation derived from fantasies seeking to reconstruct preverbal experiences.

Development of the capacity for a mature heterosexual relationship (i.e., achievement of a genital object representation) constitutes the most valuable protection from this threat to autonomy. The actual enjoyment of such a relationship continuously refines,

extends, and enriches the autonomy of the individual lovers involved. Crucial to this solution of an adaptational dilemma is the resolution of bisexuality through the focus of lovers upon a reciprocal differentiation into male and female. In marked contrast to all other relationships (real or fantasied), closeness to a heterosexual lover promotes a secure sense of autonomy rather than threatens it—no amount of physical and emotional intermingling can overthrow the paramount sense that one is the "he" and one the "she."

Other topics discussed include sexual reality, dependency, activity and passivity, pleasure, infatuation, love, and the role of continuous sexual activity in differentiating man from the animals.

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