Can Love Last?: The Fate of Romance over Time

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Common wisdom has it that love is fragile, but leading psychoanalyst Stephen A. Mitchell argues that romance doesn't actually diminish in long-term relationships—it becomes increasingly dangerous. What we regard as the transience of love is really risk management. Mitchell shows that love can endure, if only we become aware of our self-destructive efforts to protect ourselves from its risks.

Author Biography: Stephen A. Mitchell died in 2000 at the pinnacle of his career as a ...

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Overview

Common wisdom has it that love is fragile, but leading psychoanalyst Stephen A. Mitchell argues that romance doesn't actually diminish in long-term relationships—it becomes increasingly dangerous. What we regard as the transience of love is really risk management. Mitchell shows that love can endure, if only we become aware of our self-destructive efforts to protect ourselves from its risks.

Author Biography: Stephen A. Mitchell died in 2000 at the pinnacle of his career as a theorist and clinician. He is the author of Freud and Beyond.

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Editorial Reviews

Mark Epstein
It will hold you, as it held me, in its thrall.
Andrew Solomon
Those who read this book will love more wisely because of it.
Barbara Fisher
A beautiful and brilliant reexamination of love and its perils.
Boston Globe
JoAnn Gutin
[T]houghtful,compassionate,and profoundly optimistic.
Salon.com
Judith Shulevitz
Cheerful,open,and humane—you'd definitely have wanted him as your analyst.
New York Times Book Review
Publishers Weekly
When New York University professor and popular psychoanalysis theorist Mitchell died in December 2000, he left behind a robust body of work that made Freudian theories accessible to all. It's not surprising, then, that this postmortem work should have broad appeal. A combination of clinical case studies, psychoanalytical thought and practical advice, Mitchell's riff on the fragility and necessity of romantic love is written with warmth and intelligence. He manages to simplify some of Freud's most complex theories and give them new significance for those who wonder why love is often a battlefield. Real-life examples, taken from his practice, are an invaluable addition. In a section on guilt, for example, he briefly describes how Freud considered the emotion to be "the linchpin of our ascent from the bestial to the civilized," then brings in the work of Viennese-born analyst Melanie Klein and concludes with the story of "Will," whose tendency toward feeling guilty created havoc with his romantic relationships. By mixing the case study method, so common in self-help books, with scholarly insight, Mitchell creates a work on romance that is rich and multilayered, giving the individual stories more weight and the intellectual commentary more humanity. In his conclusion, Mitchell writes like a loving father penning a wedding day message to his child, gently advising that romance isn't about "a labored struggle to contrive novelty," but instead about tolerance and understanding. It's common advice, but given the rest of the work's depth, humor and rigor, these familiar words take on new, and much welcomed, meaning. (Feb. 14) Forecast: Mitchell was always adept at user-friendly writing, and this work follows in that tradition. Can Love Last? would do well on its own merit, and the Valentine's Day pub date should push sales further. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
This rather dry academic treatise on romantic love was written by a well-regarded clinician and supervising analyst at the William Alanson White Institute. Mitchell, who died in 2000, was the author of several books including Freud and Beyond, which he wrote with his wife Margaret Black. Popular culture would have us believe that the combination of romance and true lasting love is an oxymoron. Mitchell examines the tension between the ideas of love and romance, and shows how sexuality, illusion, aggression, guilt, control, and commitment interact to contribute to this tension. He also describes the different risks involved in both stable and new love. While drawing heavily on Freud, he examines romance and love from many different psychoanalytic viewpoints. Cases from his practice are described to illustrate his discussion. The scenario of the cocktail party toward the end of the book is especially clear in conveying different theories of consciousness. Recommended for academic and large public libraries. Margaret Cardwell, Christian Brothers Univ. Lib., Memphis Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393041842
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 2/1/2002
  • Edition description: 1ST
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 6.36 (w) x 9.48 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Stephen A. Mitchell died in 2000 at the pinnacle of his career as a theorist and clinician. He is the author of Freud and Beyond.

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Table of Contents

Foreword 11
Introduction 21
1. Safety and Adventure 31
2. The Strange Loops of Sexuality 58
3. Idealization, Fantasy, and Illusions 93
4. Aggression and the Danger of Desire 119
5. Guilt and Self-Pity 145
6. Control and Commitment in Romantic Love 172
Notes 202
Index 217
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