Attachment and Sexuality
Edited by Diana Diamond, Sidney J. Blatt, Joseph D. Lichtenberg
Routledge – 2007 – 288 pages
The papers featured in Attachment and Sexuality create a dense tapestry, each forming a separate narrative strand that elucidates different configurations of the relationship between attachment and sexuality. As a whole, the volume explores the areas of convergence and divergence, opposition, and integration between these two systems. It suggests that there is a bi-directional web of influences that weaves the attachment and sexual systems together in increasingly complex ways from infancy to adulthood.
The volume’s unifying thread is the idea that the attachment system, and particularly the degree of felt security, or lack thereof in relation to early attachment figures, provides a paradigm of relatedness that forms a scaffold for the developmental unfolding of sexuality in all its manifestations. Such manifestations include infantile and adult, masturbatory and mutual, and normative and perverse.
Also central to the papers is the idea that the development of secure attachment is predicated, in part, on the development of the capacity for mentalization, or the ability to envision and interpret the behavior of oneself and others in terms of intentional mental states, including desires, feelings, beliefs, and motivations. Topics discussed in the book will help to shape the direction and tenor of further dialogues in the arena of attachment and sexuality.
"This groundbreaking volume adds immeasurably to our understanding of love relations by illuminating the interplay between attachment and sexuality. Historically, attachment theory and research have been weakest in their consideration of the role of sexuality in the formation and disruption of attachment bonds. Hence this volume which explores the myriad ways that attachment and sexuality converge and diverge in individual development and the treatment process, fills a significant theoretical gap. Unique in their integration of detailed clinical material and empirical studies, the papers address the relationship between the quality of early parent-child attachment bonds and the evolution of desire, the impact of attachment on the oedipal phase, and the recapitulation and reconfiguration of attachment and sexuality in the transference. Attachment and Sexuality is destined to take its place as a classic in the widening literature on the intersection of psychoanalytic thought and attachment research."
- Otto F. Kernberg, M.D., Professor of Psychiatry, Weill Medical College, Cornell University, USA
"This volume offers a critical and much needed addition to attachment perspectives. For decades now, attachment theory has shed light on what makes us human--our earliest relationships, those that endure through our lives, those that offer us safety and comfort during hard times. But until this book, attachment perspectives have not so clearly addressed romantic love and those sexual passions and drives that are equally core to human need across the lifespan. Each of the authors brings a clinically and scholarly rich integration of how passionate love and enduring love are necessarily woven together in all human relationships. This volume will soon be essential reading for all who work clinically with attachment perspectives and it sets a very clear clinical research agenda for all attachment scholars wishing to move the field forward."
- Linda C. Mayes, M.D., Arnold Gesell Professor, Child Psychiatry, Pediatrics, and Psychology, Yale Child Study Center, USA
"Diamond, Blatt and Lichtenberg have assembled a radical set of original chapters exploring the many links, and interdependencies, between sexuality and attachment. Emerging from this indispensable volume are important implications for theory and research in developmental, evolutionary and social psychology, as well as for clinical practice. Freud’s drive theory approach to love and sex on the one hand, and Bowlby’s ethological and control-systems approach on the other come into full relief from this outstanding edited book whose contributing authors represent the cutting edge in their respective fields. This groundbreaking book is essential reading both for advanced students and scholars in the social sciences, as well as for clinical psychologists, psychotherapists, and psychoanalysts."
- Howard Steele, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Psychology, New School for Social Research, USA
"In this case you can judge the book by its cover. The essays are as beautiful in their own way as the Klimt paintings of mother and child and of lovers one sees before opening the book. This ambitious undertaking leaves one with a sense of hope that the extensive and deep clinical insights that psychoanalysts have gleaned from thousands of hours of listening to people speak about their irrational fantasies and behaviors…can be incorporated into psychological science in a way that is enriched by clinical understanding."
- Rebecca Curtis and Daniel Winarick, PsycCRITIQUES 53, 2008
Diamond & Blatt, Prologue. Eagle, Attachment and Sexuality. Mikuluncer & Shaver, A Behavioral Systems Perspective on the Psychodynamics of Attachment and Sexuality. Ammaniti, Nicolais, & Speranza, Attachment and Sexuality During Adolescence: Interaction, Integration, or Interference? Weinstein, When Sexuality Reaches Beyond the Pleasure Principle: Attachment, Repetition, and Infantile Sexuality. Holmes, Sense and Sensuality: Hedonic Intersubjectivity and the Erotic Imagination. Buchheim, Kachele, & George, My Dog is Dying Today: Attachment Narratives and Psychoanalytic Interpretation of an Initial Interview. Lieberman, St. John, & Silverman, Passionate Attachments and Parental Exploitations of Dependency in Infancy and Early Childhood. Diamond & Yeomans, Oedipal Love and Conflict in the Transference/Countertransference Matrix: Its Impact on Attachment Security and Mentalization. Lichtenberg, Discussion.
Diana Diamond, Ph.D., is Associate Professor in the Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology at the City University of New York, and Adjunct Assistant Professor of Psychiatry in the Department of Psychiatry at the Weill Medical Center of Cornell University, where she is also a senior fellow at the Personality Disorders Institute.
Sidney J. Blatt, Ph.D., is Professor of Psychiatry and Psychology at Yale University and Chief of the Psychology Section, Department of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine. He is also a graduate and a member of the faculty of the Western New England Psychoanalytic Institute.
Joseph Lichtenberg, M.D., is a practicing psychoanalyst in Washington, D.C. He is the Editor-in-Chief of Psychoanalytic Inquiry and the Psychoanalytic Inquiry Book Series. He is on the faculty of the Washington Psychoanalytic Institute, the Washington School of Psychiatry, and is Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Georgetown University. He is also on the editorial boards of the Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic, Psychoanalytic Dialogues, and Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy. He is Founder and Director Emeritus of the Institute of Contemporary Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis (Washington, D.C.).