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Maroda, K.J. (1998). Shadow of the Other: Intersubjectivity and Gender in Psychoanalysis by Jessica Benjamin New York: Routledge, 1998, xx + 129 pp., $18.99 paper. Psa. Books, 9(4):446-450.
    

(1998). Psychoanalytic Books, 9(4):446-450

Shadow of the Other: Intersubjectivity and Gender in Psychoanalysis by Jessica Benjamin New York: Routledge, 1998, xx + 129 pp., $18.99 paper

Review by:
Karen J. Maroda, Ph.D.

In The Bonds of Love, Jessica Benjamin (1988) outlined her thesis on domination, noting the mutually exclusive nature of the pursuits of love and power. Her in-depth discussions of domination, particularly between men and women, point up the fact that the pursuit of power is inevitably perverse, ultimately leading to the destruction of the relationship. Focusing her gender-based discussion along intersubjective lines, she proposes mutual recognition of separate selves as the reasonable alternative to submission of one person, or one sex, to the other. In Shadow of the Other, Benjamin continues to interweave the themes of gender, the pursuit of power, sexuality, conceptualizing the “Other,” identification, intersubjectivity, and feminist theory with psychoanalysis. If this effort seems more than a little ambitious, it is. In spite of its monograph length (only 120 pages), Shadow of the Other takes the reader on an intellectual roller coaster ride through the labyrinths of Benjamin's fertile mind.

She succeeds in integrating her ideas about power relations (particularly between the sexes) with intersubjective theory but does not effectively apply this integration to analytic practice. When Benjamin does talk about clinical psychoanalysis, she works from the position of discussing the undesirability of power relations (of which “gender” seems to be a subset) and advocates the more equal footing found in intersubjectivity. But it seems that her main subject area—gender—gets lost in this application.

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