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Orbach, S. (2004). Review Essay: Beyond the Fear of Intimacy. Psychoanal. Dial., 14(3):397-404.

(2004). Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 14(3):397-404

Review Essay: Beyond the Fear of Intimacy

Review by:
Susie Orbach, Ph.D.

Can Love Last? The Fate of Romance Over Time by Stephen A. Mitchell (New York, NY: W.W. Norton, 2002, 224 pp.)

This article reflects on the importance of Mitchell's work in the United Kingdom, where notions of intimacy sit uneasily with psychoanalytic practice. The author argues that a reluctance to take up intimacy in the consulting room has a deleterious effect on intimate relations outside it. Drawing on her work with women, in particular, she posits that the erotic is still an undertheorized area of relational analysis. Although most orthodox theory has been jettisoned, new theory is necessary for an understanding of what the author observes to be a “false” erotic in many of her patients in whom the erotic is temporarily available but is unreliable as a desire and as a source of identity.

Writing a review of the posthumously published can love last gives me a chance not just to write about this last book of Stephen's and where this sits in the body of Stephen's work, but also to write an appreciation for the contribution that Stephen made to psychoanalysis in general and to the field whose development he led, relational psychoanalysis. Of course, throughout this volume there are many such tributes, but nevertheless I want to mention a personal debt to his work and the huge importance of the existence and stimulating format of the journal he founded and edited for 10 years.

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