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Professional Humility and the Erotic Transference. The Path to Love: Psychological Intimacy. Sexual Desire: Simplicity and Complexity. Infidelity: Vital Background Concepts. Infidelity: The Work of the Therapist. Love is Connection-Disconnection-Reconnection.

Demystifying Love: Plain Talk for the Mental Health Professional

See All Customer Reviews. Shop Textbooks. Read an excerpt of this book! Add to Wishlist. USD Sign in to Purchase Instantly. Temporarily Out of Stock Online Please check back later for updated availability. Overview Intended primarily for mental health professionals, Demystifying Love deals plainly with topics rarely written about for clinicians.

Stephen B. Levine

About the Author Stephen B. Table of Contents Preface. Average Review. The speaker must be able to trust in the safety of sharing this with the listener. The speaker must possess the language skills to express in words his or her thoughts, feelings, perceptions, and history. Psychological intimacy will not occur, however, unless the listener is able to evidence the following characteristics: The listener must provide undivided, uninterrupted attention to the speaker.

The listener needs to construe the opportunity to listen as a privilege to learn about the inner experiences of the speaker. Much conversation, even between established lovers, does not create psychological intimacy. Psychological intimacy is a transformative moment of connection that occurs simultaneously in both the speaker and the listener.

It is a bonding process that creates or reinforces the sense of belonging to one another. There are two basic forms of psychological intimacy. Each member of the couple, of course, takes a turn being a speaker and a listener to potentially re-create moments of connection. Physicians and mental health professionals create a one-way psychological intimacy with patients, as do parents with their young children. Psychological intimacies are part of the landscape of numerous kinds of relationships, ranging from friendship to sibling bonds to lawyer-client relationships.

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Unlike this wide array of psychological intimacies, psychological intimacy within a sexual relationship possesses a special power to repeatedly ease the way to sexual behavior. These bonding moments of connection have profound consequences for the speaker. After repeated moments of psychological intimacy , the speaker generates interest in sexual behavior with the listener.

Psychological intimacy can be a powerful erotic stimulus. In certain contexts it is the most reliable and safest known aphrodisiac. Moments of psychological intimacy have positive consequences for the listener as well. The listener gains a deeper understanding of the speaker and experiences pleasure in being of value to the speaker. The listener demonstrates an increased willingness to think about his or her own subjective self and comes to realize how important he or she is to the speaker.

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These subjective experiences reaffirm the bond to the speaker. Psychological intimacy is not confined to the adult-adult relationship. The skill of psychotherapists is their ability to create and maintain psychological intimacy in order to promote psychological growth. Psychological intimacy creates a rarely discussed erotic stimulus in many relationships that are not intended to be sexual.

Demystifying Love - Life Matters - ABC Radio National (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

As such, people have to carefully manage themselves so as not to complicate their lives. A second way of creating psychological intimacy, shared intense emotional experiences, does not require much conversation. An intense bond can readily be established or reestablished, for example, by enduring a frightening febrile illness in an infant, caring for a dying friend together, being together in combat, or being on an athletic team.

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The third way of attaining psychological intimacy is through sexual behaviors. It, too, is a largely nonverbal shared emotional experience. Many aspects of sex create private emotion. To this is added the perception of what the naked person feels about his or her naked body. These intensely private subjective experiences create the sense of knowing the partner in a way that others could not. This is a privilege.

In these ways, sex creates a profound degree of connection. All avenues of attaining psychological intimacies promote the sense of loving and being loved.


They witness the changing nature of this comfort. The pleasures of sex are physical and psychological. Sex can create novel delicious sensations and pleasant emotions before, during, and after orgasm. A person experiences the sense of power in giving the partner pleasure. The ability to give and to receive pleasure increases interest in the other, adds to the knowledge of the other, and creates the sense of being intertwined with the other. These are the means of creating a sense of oneness.

The seamless interplay of physical and psychological pleasure during sex attenuates the sense of time as the individuals transport one another into the realm of sensation.

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The psychological pleasures of sex also involve personal meanings. These meanings, however, are often either closely held privacies from the partner or indescribable. It just is! Sexual behavior stabilizes our sexual identity. Sex allows us to feel that we are confident as a man or woman. It helps us to clarify and stabilize our identity as a heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual person. It clarifies the nature of our intentions as consisting of peaceable mutuality or varieties of sadomasochism or fetishism.

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Sex is the vehicle for early romantic attachment at every stage in life—among the never attached, divorced, widowed, and those having affairs. It can facilitate the vital process of creating an entity from two individuals. Romance conveys the hidden quest for a safe, secure, comforting lasting unity. It is typically accompanied by an intense erotic desire for each other. In established relationships, sexual behavior reinforces the sense that one is loved and capable of loving. It strengthens the sense of oneness enabling individuals to feel themselves to be an integral part of another. It improves our capacity to withstand extra relationship temptation. And, of course, it is vital to our reproductive ambitions. Sex remains a vehicle for self-discovery throughout life. It begins in adolescence when eroticism is dominated by fantasy, attraction, and masturbation and continues to reveal private aspects of the self during the many decades of regular or intermittent partner sexual behaviors and into the wistful final alone years.

Sexual experience is a dynamic ever-evolving process. It changes in the short and in the long term in response to numerous biological, psychological, interpersonal, economic, and social factors. Individuals change psychologically, physically, and sexually over time as they mature, take on new responsibilities, and experience loss, personal dilemmas, and illness. Changes in one person invariably impact on the partner.