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Fisher, D.J. (2010). Sexual Excitement: Dynamics of Erotic Life. By Robert J. Stoller. New York: Pantheon Books, 1979, 281 pp.. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 58(1):147-168.

(2010). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 58(1):147-168

Book Essay: Stoller, Erotics, Sexual Excitement

Sexual Excitement: Dynamics of Erotic Life. By Robert J. Stoller. New York: Pantheon Books, 1979, 281 pp.

Review by:
David James Fisher

In revisiting the case history of Belle, the centerpiece of Robert Stoller's 1979 book, Sexual Excitement: Dynamics of Erotic Life, I will present three vignettes.

First, twinkling thighs: On the couch during her analytic hours, Belle would manipulate the bottom of her skirt so that it moved up and down her thighs. Sometimes her skirt would be hiked up high enough that her bottom, as she called it, would be seen. In Stoller's words, “I would gradually become aware that first her knees and then an inch or more of her thigh were twinkling at me while at the same time she chattered away” (p. 131). Belle sometimes came to analysis wearing no underpants.

Second, the Erotic Daydream, sometimes referred to as the Director's Fantasy: “A cruel man, the Director, a Nazi type, is directing the activity. It consists of Belle being raped by a stallion, which has been aroused to a frenzy by a mare held off at a distance beyond where Belle is placed. In a circle around the periphery stand vaguely perceived men, expressionless, masturbating while ignoring each other, the Director, and Belle. She is there for the delectation of these men, including the Director, who although he has an erection, makes no contact with her: her function is to be forced to unbearable sexual excitement and pleasure, thereby making a fool of herself before these men. She has been enslaved in this obscene exhibition of humiliation because it creates erections in these otherwise feelingless men; they stand there in phallic, brutal indifference. All that, however, is foreplay, setting the scene.

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