Battling the Life and Death Forces of Sadomasochism; Clinical Perspectives
Harriet I. Basseches, Paula L. Ellman, and Nancy R. Goodman
CIPS series on the boundaries of psychoanalysis, KARNAC Books Ltd, London, 2013, 294 pages. Paper Back. [pound sterling]26.99 (paperback)
This book presents a beautifully descriptive psychoanalytic account of the clinical boundaries and the life and death forces involved in sadomasochism. The text eloquently examines four patient cases providing detailed insight into the unconscious collision between transference and countertransference forces. Transference refers to unconscious feelings being directed from the patient to the therapist. Conversely, counter-transference refers to the re-directed unconscious feelings from the therapist to the patient (Etchegoyen, 2005; Freud, 1960; Kapelovitz, 1987). The authors are psychoanalysts from varying schools of thought and collaboratively provide an illustrative and intuitive means of guiding such driving forces involved in the therapeutic arena. The authors refer to psychic sadomasochism, a term used to describe sadomasochistic relationship images in the psyche which are enacted onto others, including the analyst, within the therapeutic arena. The authors stress that: "Most of these patients do not overtly enact sexual sadomasochistic scenes" (Basseches, Ellman & Goodman, 2013, p. 5). Therefore, this does not refer to the consensual giving and/or receiving of sexual pleasure in the context of enacting out pain and/or erotic humiliation. The understanding of how the psychic sadomasochistic communication unfolds during the analytic process has been acquired via the authors' extensive clinical experience as presented in the clinical case studies.
This book is part of the CIPS Book Series on the Boundaries of Psychoanalysis. The book aims to expand the reader's understanding of psychic sadomasochism by using varying theoretical perspectives following each of the case examples; indeed, each of the presenting four cases is followed by three case discussions. This is both an intriguing and captivating means of drawing the reader into the fascinating world of human pathology. Such patient descriptions prompt an array of emotions and possibly even that of relatedness amongst readers. For example: "The analysis seems impossible. In our study group we came to identify as sadomasochism the hold these patients were having on us and our analysing capacities. Each of us felt...