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Ehrenberg, D.B. (1975). The Quest for Intimate Relatedness. Contemp. Psychoanal., 11:320-331.

(1975). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 11:320-331

The Quest for Intimate Relatedness

Darlene Bregman Ehrenberg, Ph.D.

THE GROWING SEARCH FOR ALTERNATE forms of marriage seems to reflect an increased sense of despair about traditional marital relationships, and to be part of a larger search for more meaningful and more intimate kinds of relatedness. It seems to include a quest to liberate men and women from stereotypical sex roles, as well as an increased sensitivity to the common human dilemmas of both sexes. This is reflected in a trend away from conformity, to socially prescribed roles and socially prescribed relationships, towards a new emphasis on individuality, psychological honesty, integrity, and self-definition.

Simply rejecting traditional marriage and looking for new social forms, however, may be a way of glossing over profound psychological conflicts and fears about intimacy rather than solving them. I do not mean to negate the importance of sociological factors, but, rather, to emphasize that difficulties with intimacy may have their roots in inner psychology as well as in the social structure of relationships; and to stress the importance of being clear about a differentiation between the psychological and sociological realms (Wolstein, 1971). I will not attempt to discuss here the ways in which the psychological and the sociological reciprocally influence each other, but would like to note that being able to identify which is which may be crucial if either is to be dealt with effectively.

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