BLISS by Ronald D.  Cowen


: The Psychology of Primary Intimacy
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Drawing from the studies of numerous psychologists, Cowen writes about the intense human bond known as primary intimacy.

According to Cowen, primary intimacy is a specific kind of understanding in which a person perceives another individual as “unique, alive, different from [them], and above all else precious.” While primary intimacy might most frequently be associated with the bond between two lovers, the book focuses on its occurrence between a mother and infant, who essentially fall in love with one another. This type of intimacy, he writes, usually occurs when an infant’s mother has been raised in a nuturing environment. Therefore, it’s difficult to break the chain if an individual has had malicious or unskilled parents, possibly leading to an unending cycle. The book argues that maintaining primary intimacy–rather than letting it fizzle out– leads to happiness, and that one should strive for this type of bond by behaving as a good friend despite insecurities and disappointments from prior relationships. Bliss is a cross of self-help book, academic journal and philosophical tome, and while it presents some interesting ideas regarding infant psychology and human behavior, they are bogged down by the enormous amount of information and research. Chapter five, which surveys the ideas of more than 30 various psychologists, philosophers and religious figures, could have made up another book entirely. Likewise, the author frequently mentions meditation and Eastern philosophies, but these references seem detached from the rest of the text. Overall, it’s a commendable research effort, but the book falls victim to its own excesses.

Lacking structure, this psychology book struggles to form a cohesive whole.

Program: Kirkus Indie
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