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Werman, D.S. Jacobs, T.J. (1983). Thomas Hardy's 'The Well-Beloved' and the Nature of Infatuation. Int. R. Psycho-Anal., 10:447-457.

(1983). International Review of Psycho-Analysis, 10:447-457

Thomas Hardy's 'The Well-Beloved' and the Nature of Infatuation

David S. Werman and Theodore J. Jacobs


Despite the ubiquity of infatuation the psychoanalytic literature pertaining to it is relatively limited.

However, the nature of infatuation is described in almost clinical detail in Thomas Hardy's novel 'The Well-Beloved'. Not only does he delineate its phenomenology but the novel provides important clues to the psychodynamic underpinnings of the principal character's repetitive and compulsive falling in love. Utilizing Hardy's descriptions, this communication formulates some general statements about infatuation, considering it as a phenomenon that ranges from the normative to the frankly psychopathological, from contingent to characterological forms. We suggest that infatuation typically condenses both narcissistic and oedipal wishes.

A brief exploration of the relationships of Hardy's novel to his own life is made, and two vignettes illustrate some of these concepts in clinical practice. The relevant literature is reviewed.

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