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Diamond, M.J. (2013). Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Man: Psychoanalysis and Masculinity, by Donald Moss, London & New York: Routledge, 2012, 150 pp., $36.95 (paperback), $130.00 (hardbound).. Psychoanal. Psychol., 30(3):503-508.

(2013). Psychoanalytic Psychology, 30(3):503-508

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Man: Psychoanalysis and Masculinity, by Donald Moss, London & New York: Routledge, 2012, 150 pp., $36.95 (paperback), $130.00 (hardbound).

Review by:
Michael J. Diamond, Ph.D., ABPP

This scholarly yet incisive and accessible book addresses the unstable notion of masculinity and the ways in which both hetero- and homosexual men seek to shape themselves in relation to the precarious nature of being a man. The complexities of male gender identity are examined from several psychoanalytic vantage points, including classical and modern Freudian, object relations, Lacan and post-Lacanian, and contemporary, postmodern relational and intersubjective theory. The writing is enriched by the author's willingness to share several of his own formative experiences in facing the daunting task of searching for ways to grow up as a man with a mind of his own.

Moss' short book comprises selected published articles and chapters (often reworked) and newly written personal anecdotes along with a prologue and epilogue. While integrating various psychoanalytic perspectives, the author grounds his understanding in a clear, modern Freudian viewpoint that emphasizes the body, drives, the mind, and unconscious mental work. In addressing the role of drives, Moss illuminates the significance of this Freudian bedrock, particularly for a contemporary generation of intersub-jectively oriented analysts and mental health workers who often simply reject or may have otherwise been deprived of understanding this bodily based facet of metapsychology.

At the same time, however, by privileging what Freud grouped under the Platonic entity Eros, which by 1920 consisted of the sexual, self-preservative, and narcissistic drives in their essential function of binding together or fusion, the indispensible duality of the drives is not made explicit. Whether the second component is taken up in terms of destructive drives, the death instinct, return to inorganic matter, or the significance of diffusion bound by the power of the erotic component, Freudian thinking rests on grounding psychic life in the omnipresence of conflict between these two main drive forces. Consequently, Moss' otherwise advanced Freudian construction runs the risk of being misread as idealizing a more politically correct or even sentimentalizing version of masculinity that fails to tackle the essentially psychoanalytic project of addressing the unconscious, more elemental resistances that masculinity displays to being civilized, tamed, and optimized, as often evident in treatment.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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