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Price, M. (1999). Intimacy And Infidelity: Separation-Individuation Perspectives: Salman Akhtar and Selma Kramer. Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson, 1996, 183 pp., $35.00.. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 47(1):262-265.

(1999). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 47(1):262-265

Intimacy And Infidelity: Separation-Individuation Perspectives: Salman Akhtar and Selma Kramer. Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson, 1996, 183 pp., $35.00.

Review by:
Michelle Price

Intimacy and Infidelity is a series of eight papers, three of them discussions, which except for Akhtar's concluding chapter on love, were originally presented at the 26th Annual Margaret S. Mahler Symposium on Child Development in May 1995. The essays explore the theoretical underpinnings and clinical implications of fidelity, monogamy, infidelity and the adult's capacity for intimacy. Mahler's developmental perspectives, particularly her focus on separation-individuation issues and object relatedness, are used to understand adult difficulties in maintaining committed intimate relationships.

The contributors include Selma Kramer, Louise J. Kaplan, Eric Lager, Alvin Frank, Helen C. Meyers, John M. Ross, Lawrence D. Blum, and Akhtar. Throughout the book, the ability to be intimate—i.e., heterosexually monogamous—is seen as a developmental achievement based on a capacity for maintaining stable object relations, loyalty, and adherence to particular cultural and social practices, as well as for successful negotiating developmental stages and issues regarding separation-individuation.

Kramer's chapter focuses on the development of intimacy and fidelity as observed in children, their involvement with their mothers, and the development of friendships. The essay privileges monogamy and fidelity, situating them as synonymous with intimacy and as constituting the goals of analytic work. There are glaring overgeneralizations and biases, as in her description of children with limited stranger anxiety as having shallow relationships with their mothers and her assertion that this “promiscuity” bodes ill for future object relationships. There is no ambivalence, no appreciation of particulars or of personal and cultural differences, in her descriptions either of development or of individual cases.

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