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Bianchini, B. (2014). Aesthetic Conflict in the Couple. Cpl. Fam. Psychoanal., 4(1):56-68.

(2014). Couple and Family Psychoanalysis, 4(1):56-68

Aesthetic Conflict in the Couple

Barbara Bianchini

Translated by:
Roma O'Flaherty

At the basis of the union between two partners is the aesthetic turmoil that derives from the manifest beauty of the object, which is unknowable internally, and which arouses both love and hate simultaneously. The tension between love, hate, and knowledge stems from their apparent incompatibility. It is almost impossible to sustain this constellation of intense and contradictory emotional ties with the object; attempting to do so can prove unbearable. This is what Meltzer calls the aesthetic conflict, highlighting that the tragedy of the aesthetic experience lies not in its transience, but in the object's enigmatic quality.

The inability to assimilate sufficiently the resulting affective ambivalence means exposing oneself to potentially overwhelming emotions. Trying to erase these emotions deprives one of the vital knowledge and motivation they bring.

If, however, the ambiguity of the object is tolerated, the dread of uncertainty of the partner's intentions stimulates psychic growth and creativity, transforming it into compassion for the frailty of human life and all things.

I believe that the experience of being in an intimate relationship can be the stage on which these aspects of the aesthetic conflict are played out—crucial aspects for the development of both the couple relationship and the individual. This paper examines and develops aspects of the aesthetic conflict within a couple relationship.

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