Marital therapy has developed significantly in the last few decades and fulfils a very important role in helping disturbed couples in the process of understanding their difficulties. My new book, Married Life and its Vicissitudes: A Therapeutic Approach, provides an experienced and humane exploration of marital vicissitudes, and shows that in many cases pathological development is an unavoidable development that requires a sensitive and effective therapeutic input for successful resolution.
This book presents psychoanalytic thinking about the phenomenon of the couple and couple dynamics in internal and external reality and at different levels of organisation: the ‘couple’ in the individual’s internal world, the dynamics between partners in a couple relationship, and the dynamics between the couple and the group. It will interest professionals from different disciplines who find couple dynamics relevant in their work.
This book is addressed to anyone, lay or professional, who seeks to understand more of the shared unconscious processes that bind and/or destroy couple relationships. It explains how and why couples are drawn to one another in the first place and how the bond is then sustained or eroded by pacts made and broken without either party being aware they exist. Bringing these “deals” into the pair’s awareness is a significant part of couple therapy.
In the history of psychoanalysis and psychotherapy as we know, falling in love was first examined as an important event within the context of the therapeutic work. Freud and his contemporaries found that their analysands often developed passionate attachments to them. This formed the basis for Freud’s idea of the transference.
Sexual energy is potentially a free source of pleasure and ecstasy, with remarkable physical and emotional health benefits. In the UK, we seem much more liberalised than a generation ago, but there are also costs to our well-being, including high rates of sexual violence, sexual ill health, and the ‘side effects’ of chemicals in health and beauty products and the wide use of synthetic hormones.
We live in a highly sexualised culture where we are inundated with images of celebrity ‘sexy’ people, and lots of things to buy: fashions, lotions and potions to make us more ‘sexy’. We currently have concerns about our young people viewing pornography as a role model for adult sexual relationships, not understanding it is a fantasy world contrived to amuse and entertain adults. It is a world of a one-dimensional view of sex, where men have very large penises; women have very large breasts and where sex is mainly acts of penetration.
Many people feel a gulf between all this and their own tastes and preferences, their own sense of sexual self-esteem. Sexual issues are shrouded in shame. This silences us. Many think ‘everyone else seems cool, what’s my hang up?’ Discussing our current sexual culture needs to include physical and psychological health, and issues such as body image, cosmetic surgery, eating disorders, all of which take us away from our natural selves.
There are many areas around Sexuality in need of evaluation and healing. LoveSex offers a new model for us to explore what we think and feel about our own sexuality. It could be therapeutic for us all, to have a safe space to talk more openly, to blow out the cobwebs, and discuss how our sexuality could be honoured and really celebrated.
Author of LoveSex (Karnac Books, 2013).