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Caruso, N. (2011). The Entangled Nature of Attachment and Sexuality in the Couple Relationship. Cpl. Fam. Psychoanal., 1(1):117-135.

(2011). Couple and Family Psychoanalysis, 1(1):117-135

The Entangled Nature of Attachment and Sexuality in the Couple Relationship

Norma Caruso

This paper demonstrates the dynamic interplay of attachment styles and sexual functioning by presenting a couple with anxious—avoidant and anxious—ambivalent attachment patterns that are evident in their sexual difficulties. It uses the language of attachment and object relations theory to discuss their sexual and marital dysfunction and illustrates the integration of behavioural and psychoanalytic techniques to provide treatment. Particularly, it makes use of Fairbairn's (1943) concept of the ‘return of the repressed’ to help each partner reclaim lost, unconscious parts of themselves and, in turn, improve their sexual functioning. It also makes extensive use of transference and countertransference as therapeutic tools. The treatment outcome supports the attachment tenet that a secure base serves as the foundation for exploration (Ainsworth, 1972), in this case, of the body (Holmes, 2007).

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