A psychoanalyst dissects the raptures and torments of love through a series of case studies.
With 40 years of experience as a psychoanalyst, Safer (Cain's Legacy: Liberating Siblings from a Lifetime of Rage, Shame, Secrecy, and Regret, 2012) has played confidante to innumerable secrets of love, from heartbreak to ecstasy. Building on her variety of experiences in the field, the author compiles the notable stories in this compendium, attempting to illuminate the mysteries of love that have so confounded, fooled, and transfixed humanity for centuries. Among the case studies Safer relates from her professional experience and personal life are tales of subjugation, betrayal, and the incapacity for love. The author even recounts her own story of unrequited love when, as a naïve 19-year-old, she “fell passionately in love with a man that meant far more to me than I did to him” and withheld the details of the affair for nearly 50 years out of shame. But Safer is not solely interested in sexual love. She also relates many stories of friendship, including her first experience of loss during her separation from her roommate and best friend at college. Though the stories of jealously and embitterment are salaciously entertaining, Safer closes the collection with a section on fulfilled love. Perhaps most heartwarming is the chapter on late-life first marriage, which defies typical conventions of love as a young person’s game and serves as an uplifting and optimistic ending to the woes and travails of love lost and regretted. Throughout the author’s many different examples, her analysis is mostly Freudian-based (with additional credit to Heinz Kohut, “the founder of psychoanalytic self psychology”), and her insights are astute. However, since psychoanalysis has fallen out of favor, some may find that her conclusions lack empirical clarity.
A highly relatable collection of anecdotes that serves as a valuable crash course on the pitfalls, seductions, and rewards of love.