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Strean, H.S. (1976). The Extramarital Affair: A Psychoanalytic View. Psychoanal. Rev., 63(1):101-113.

(1976). Psychoanalytic Review, 63(1):101-113

The Extramarital Affair: A Psychoanalytic View

Herbert S. Strean

The last decade has witnessed a rather strong modification of traditional sexual practices. Premarital cohabitation and sexual intercourse, instead of being condemned, have become accepted by most people. “Swinging,” “switching,” and “group sex” among the married are far from taboo in many sectors of American life. Homosexuality, instead of being considered morally and legally reprehensible, is now more legitimized as a way of life, and the American Psychiatric Association recently struck “homosexuality” from its psychiatric nomenclature. Many dynamically oriented therapists now advocate premarital and extramarital sex as avenues to mental health, and some have even opined that sexual intercourse with them will enhance ego functioning and sexual maturation.

Those of us engaged in the practice of psychotherapy and psychoanalysis are also active participants in society and therefore are influenced by modifications of traditional sexual practices. The growing popularity of sensitivity groups, “touching” encounter groups, nude marathons, etc., reflect the pervasive influence of societal values and practices on psychotherapeutic modalities.11, 12

Psychoanalysis has long contended that behavior cannot be fully understood or evaluated unless a comprehensive metapsychological orientation is used to unravel its significance.

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