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Wilkinson, S.M. Gabbard, G.O. (1995). On Romantic Space. Psychoanal. Psychol., 12(2):201-219.

(1995). Psychoanalytic Psychology, 12(2):201-219

On Romantic Space

Sallye M. Wilkinson, Ph.D. and Glen O. Gabbard, M.D.

The concept of romantic space is offered as a means for understanding enduring love. Starting from Ogden's (1986, 1989) synthesis of Klein, Bion, and Winnicott, romantic space is mapped out in the intermediate area between the lover and the beloved, unchallenged with respect to its belonging to inner or external (shared) reality. It is both an intrapsychic and an interpersonal experience evolving between the lover and the beloved that involves the paradoxical coexistence of depressive and paranoid–schizoid modes of relatedness within each partner. The paranoid–schizoid mode brings a sense of freshness, idealization, and receptivity to the relationship and involves coercion of the beloved, through projective identification, to pay a particular role needed by the lover. The depressive mode provides the relationship with a joint narrative, the capacity for concern, and freedom to think one's own thoughts. The interplay between these two modes of experience allows the lover and the beloved to offer each other a relatedness that is reassuringly familiar as well as abruptly fresh. Inflexibility in either partner leads to pathology of romantic space characterized by rigid adherence to the mode of relatedness. Dialogue from the play Shadowlands is cited to exemplify the multitextured experience inherent in our understanding of romantic space.

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