Intimacies / Leo Bersani and Adam Phillips.

by Bersani, LeoLooking glass; Phillips, Adam, 1954-Looking glass.

Publisher: Chicago, Ill. ; University of Chicago Press, 2008.Description: viii, 125 pages ; 23 cm.ISBN: 9780226043517; 0226043517.Subject(s): PsychoanalysisLooking glass | Psychoanalytic Theory | Interpersonal relationsLooking glass | Psychoanalytic interpretationLooking glass
Item type Home library Collection Class number Status Date due Barcode Item reservations
Long loan London College of Communication
Main collection
Printed books 150.195 BER (Browse shelf (Opens below)) Available 54049499
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Enhanced descriptions from Syndetics:

Two gifted and highly prolific intellectuals, Leo Bersani and Adam Phillips, here present a fascinating dialogue about the problems and possibilities of human intimacy. Their conversation takes as its point of departure psychoanalysis and its central importance to the modern imagination--though equally important is their shared sense that by misleading us about the importance of self-knowledge and the danger of narcissism, psychoanalysis has failed to realize its most exciting and innovative relational potential.
            In pursuit of new forms of intimacy they take up a range of concerns across a variety of contexts. To test the hypothesis that the essence of the analytic exchange is intimate talk without sex, they compare Patrice Leconte's film about an accountant mistaken for a psychoanalyst, Intimate Strangers , with Henry James's classic novella The Beast in the Jungle . A discussion of the radical practice of barebacking--unprotected anal sex between gay men--delineates an intimacy that rejects the personal. Even serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer and the Bush administration's war on terror enter the scene as the conversation turns to the way aggression thrills and gratifies the ego. Finally, in a reading of Socrates' theory of love from Plato's Phaedrus , Bersani and Phillips call for a new form of intimacy which they term "impersonal narcissism": a divestiture of the ego and a recognition of one's non-psychological potential self in others. This revolutionary way of relating to the world, they contend, could lead to a new human freedom by mitigating the horrifying violence we blithely accept as part of human nature.
            Charmingly persuasive and daringly provocative, Intimacies is a rare opportunity to listen in on two brilliant thinkers as they explore new ways of thinking about the human psyche.

Reviews provided by Syndetics


In this brief treatment of personality and intimacy, two intellectuals react to each other's ideas. One premise is that psychoanalysis is intimate talk without sex, as illustrated by the French film Intimate Strangers, herein analyzed. The authors examine intimacy without love in a chapter on homosexual barebacking (anal sex without protection against disease). And they discuss how aggression gratifies the ego, using serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer as a reference. In places the authors seem to be struggling with the question of what Freud really had to say about sexual intimacies and the desire for death. They introduce the concept of "impersonal narcissism" as a goal. Since the ideas expressed here are isolated from the present field of human sexuality, with its rich literature, the book will be of interest mainly to readers who are extremely psychoanalytically inclined. The absence of scholarly apparatus reduces its audience further. The Psychophysiology of Sex, ed. by Erick Janssen (CH, May'08, 42-5270), is a better choice for those interested in some of these issues. Summing Up: Not recommended. W. P. Anderson emeritus, University of Missouri--Columbia

Author notes provided by Syndetics

Adam Phillips is the author of six previous books, including "The Beast in the Nursery" & "Monogamy" (both available form Vintage). Formerly the principal child psychotherapist at Charing Cross Hospital in London, he lives in England.

(Bowker Author Biography)