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Wilkinson, M. (1983). Cowan, Lyn. Masochism: A Jungian View. Dallas, Spring Publications, 1982. Pp. x+ 131. $8.50.. J. Anal. Psychol., 28(3):285-286.

(1983). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 28(3):285-286

Cowan, Lyn. Masochism: A Jungian View. Dallas, Spring Publications, 1982. Pp. x+ 131. $8.50.

Review by:
Margaret Wilkinson

Edited by:
Andrew Samuels

The art of our necessities is strange,

That can make vile things precious.

(Shakespeare, King Lear)

These words, which preface this book, epitomise Cowan's attitude to masochism. She sees it as an essential experience which is necessary less for pleasure than for the health and vitality of the soul. Her aim is not to condemn or to treat it but to explain the psychological purposes it may serve. She regards it as a manifestation of the religious instinct and stresses that before science treated it as a disease, religion valued it as a cure. To illustrate this the sacrament of penance and the practices of the medieval Flagellants are cited.

Submission is at the heart of the masochistic experience for Cowan, so perhaps it is not surprising to find that this is a book that one has to submit to and experience before it becomes possible to stand back and evaluate. The author describes it as a textured book rather than a text-book and her method is that of amplification undertaken in a loose-jointed way rather than that of a scientific study. Her aim is not so much to instruct and explain as to evoke and describe (p. 6). This results in vitality and directness, although the language is pretentious at times and the reader may be in some doubt about scholarly precision when for example it is suggested erroneously that: Experience comes from the Latin ex periculum, meaning to move through peril or out of danger (p.

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