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Fischer, R. (2004). Sexuality, Intimacy, Power. By Muriel Dimen. Hillsdale, NJ: Analytic Press, 2003. 328 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 73(2):531-535.

(2004). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 73(2):531-535

Sexuality, Intimacy, Power. By Muriel Dimen. Hillsdale, NJ: Analytic Press, 2003. 328 pp.

Review by:
Ruth Fischer

This volume consists of a series of essays published between 1989 and 2001. They are well written, with beautifully evocative metaphors, interesting clinical examples, and important personal references. They describe the journey Muriel Dimen has taken in her struggle with difference and inequity, that which lies on the surface and that which is hidden beneath, as well as that which is innate and that which is culturally determined. She has traveled from anthropology to Marxism to feminism to postmodernism and to psychoanalysis. The impact of each is clearly evident.

The author gives us a nonlinear compendium on psychoanalysis, social theory, and feminism, with a special focus on the problem of dualism. The nonlinearity of the project renders it soft-edged. One might possibly call it feminine if one were thinking in terms of dualisms and gender dichotomies. To write a hard-edged, linear, formerly-considered-masculine review of this book would therefore be difficult and, ultimately, inappropriate. Anyone looking for that here will find this review, in line with these essays, meandering.

Dimen's style is a mixture of the personal and the factual, the internal and the external, and the subjective and the objective. Significant authors in several fields are noted. I can only comment on the psychoanalytic references, as those are the ones with which I am most familiar. And in this realm, I can think of few significant contributors who are not referenced and few significant controversies not addressed. The style, if one needs to characterize it, is at one and the same time both obsessional and hysterical.

It is at the crossroads of social theory, psychoanalysis, and feminism that Dimen discovers an opportunity to explore sexuality, intimacy, and power.

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