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Rittenberg, S.M. (1987). On Charm. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 68:389-396.

(1987). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 68:389-396

On Charm

Stephen M. Rittenberg


This paper undertakes a psychoanalytic investigation of charm. Mythology, art, literature, music, high and popular culture all bear witness to the importance of charm for the human psyche. As an attribute of personality, charm gives its possessor extraordinary power since we are all susceptible to its magic. In fact charm and magic refer to the same phenomenon, the promise of blissful sleep at the breast of Mother, the omnipotent charmer.

Analysts may be especially susceptible to charm with its promise of conflict-free blissful sleep. Clinical material is presented to show how analytic work on charm can yield important therapeutic results. The charm of the psychoanalytic situation provides the opportunity for a psychoanalytic understanding of charm.

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