Sensuality and Sexuality Across the Divide of Shame: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Sensuality and Sexuality Across the Divide of Shame

1st Edition

By Joseph D. Lichtenberg


160 pages

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Placed in a historical context, sexuality was once so prominent in psychoanalytic writing that sexual drive and psychoanalysis were synonymous. The exciting discovery of childhood sexuality filled the literature. Then other discoveries came to the fore until sexuality slipped far in the background. This book evokes the excitement of the original discoveries of childhood sexual experience while linking childhood sensuality and sexuality to adult attachment, romantic, and lustful love. This revised perspective offers the general reader insight into contemporary psychoanalytic thought, and presents clinicians with a perspective for exploring their patients sensuality and sexuality with renewed interest and knowledge.


"Lichtenberg explores, with remarkably compelling clinical examples, the experiential disparity between sensuality (the integration of affection and sensual) and shame-dominated sexuality in dyadic and triadic experiences and romantic love, elaborating with sensitivity and clarity a wide-range of disturbances and disruptions of intimacy that Freud briefly considered in his abbreviated 1911 contribution. But he does much more in this contribution in his detailed and illuminating consideration of the development of sensuality and sexuality throughout the life cycle – from infancy, to the oedipal phase, to the different experiences of girls and boys in middle childhood and adolescence, to a consideration of different forms of attachment in adulthood. Lichtenberg has made a major contribution to the understanding of the complex yet subtle development of intimacy and the multiplicity of factors that can disrupt the development of this vital component of human existence." - Sidney J. Blatt, Ph.D., Co-Editor, Attachment and Sexuality (Analytic Press, 2007)

"Joe Lichtenberg has taken an essential and momentous step. He has clearly separated sensuality from sexuality and placed it as a distinct and independent motivational system. This is an advance too long avoided by the field. With this step, emotional development looks different and the role of shame is thrown into high relief. We are lead to a fresh view of several key concepts: the Oedipus Complex, attachment, gender and love. The implications for each of these are abundantl y discussed with clinical material. The axis of the field has been shifted." - Daniel Stern, M.D., Research Faculty, Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research, Columbia University

"If attachment theory is to be integrated into psychoanalytic thought it has to develop its own theory of sexuality. Lichtenberg’s excellent integration is a sophisticated, rich and imaginative leap forward in Lichtenberg’s inimitable scholarly yet clinically focused style. This book is a must for anyone interested in either attachment theory or sexuality." - Peter Fonagy, Ph.D., Freud Memorial Professor, University College London

"With this new book, Joe Lichtenberg achieves a most wonderful synthesis of theory, clinical acumen, experience-near observation of child and adolescent development, and personal experience. This is the achievement of such a mature thinker whose ideas and view are delivered in phenomenologically rich and compelling personal stories and cases. A central theme throughout the book is Lichtenberg’s deeply held conviction of the corrosive power of shame to shape a child’s or adult’s emerging experience of body and desire in sensual or sexual forms. His model of the development of the affiliative/attachment system and its relation to attachment is fleshed out (I use the term deliberately) with clinical, personal, and observational detail so we see the complexity of types of love and desire, the multiplicity of gender arrangements, and the subtle interplay of early attachment configurations, triangulated love, and family systems. This description of the book’s topics scarcely does justice to the book’s greatest strength: Lichtenberg’s wonderful, mature, playful, deep, wise, revelatory and respectful voice. This is a book to teach and to learn from." - Adrienne Harris, Ph.D., author, Gender as Soft Assembly (Analytic Press, 2005)

"Lichtenberg's book would be an invaluable resource to therapists who are working with individuals exhibiting adult attachment and/or romantic and exotic behaviors that are a result of childhood sexual experiences. It also conveys a progressive revisiting of the psychoanalytical outlook in response to how childhood sexual experiences impact adult sexual patterns." -Michelle Y. Smart in PsycCRITIQUES, Contemporary Psychology: APA Review of Books, Volume 53, Issue 23

"Joseph Lichtenberg’s Sensuality and Sexuality across the Divide of Shame is an available and straightforward, even eminently sensible, book about shame in relation to the development of body and mind …His record as an editor and discriminating supporter of differing psychoanalytic ideas and the plurality of psychoanalytic theory building is impeccable…His down-to-earth practicality and remarkable range of interests and integration of what he finds to be the useful aspects of others’ theories is an appeal of this book…Lichtenberg is excellent at capturing the multifaceted and multilayered aspects that impact whatever central concern the individual he is scrutinizing at a given moment might have. In clinical writing he masters one of the most difficult tasks – conveying a lively and believable interaction while not shortchanging theoretical complexity." – Rosemary H. Balsam, Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association

"[Lichtenberg's] many years of experience as a clinician and writer, his profound knowledge of attachment and developmental theories and research, and his own inherent sensitivity, enable him to craft a remarkably attuned portrait of the multi-layered, nuance-rich experience of the child in relation to self and primary others. Furthermore, the language in which he presents his view of the child's developing relationship to father, mother and siblings is creative, deeply empathic, and quite accessible." - Jane Kenner, Ph.D., DIVISION/Review Vol.1 No.1

"Lichtenberg shows how the dialectic of affirmation and shame is continually negotiated in all aspects of human sexuality at all stages of development and in all human relationships. Most practically, through illustrative clinical examples, Lichtenberg shows how these dynamics play out in the clinical situation." - Lawrence Josephs, The American Journal of Psychoanalysis

Table of Contents

Looking at Sensuality and Sexuality Across the Divide of Shame. The Oedipus Complex in the 21st Century. Intimacy with the Gendered Self. Veronica: A Case Example. Fathers and Daughters, Mothers and Daughters. Middle Childhood and Adolescence. Attachment Love, Romantic Love, Lustful Love, Lust without Love, Transference Love. Coda.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lichtenberg, M.D., is Editor-in-Chief of Psychoanaytic Inquiry, Director Emeritus of the Institute of Contemporary Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis, and past President of the International Council for Psychoanalytic Self Psychology. He has authored and edited numerous books and articles, including Craft and Spirit: A Guide to the Exploratory Psychotherapies (Analytic Press, 2005) and, with Frank Lachmann and James Fosshage, A Sprit of Inquiry: Communication in Psychoanalysis (Analytic Press, 2002).

About the Series

Psychoanalytic Inquiry Book Series

Like its counterpart, Psychoanalytic Inquiry: A Topical Journal for Mental Health Professionals, the Psychoanalytic Inquiry Book Series presents a diversity of subjects within a diversity of approaches to those subjects. Under the editorship of Joseph Lichtenberg, in collaboration with Melvin Bornstein and the editorial board of Psychoanalytic Inquiry, the volumes in this series strike a balance between research, theory, and clinical application. We are honored to have published the works of various innovators in psychoanalysis, such as Lachmann, Fosshage, Stolorow, Orange, Sander, Wurmser, Grotstein, Jones, Brothers, Busch, and Lichtenberg, among others. 

The series includes books and monographs on mainline psychoanalytic topics, such as sexuality, narcissism, trauma, homosexuality, jealousy, envy, and varied aspects of analytic process and technique.  In our efforts to broaden the field of analytic interest, the series has incorporated and embraced innovative discoveries in infant research, self psychology, intersubjectivity, motivational systems, affects as process, responses to cancer, borderline states, contextualism, postmodernism, attachment research and theory, medication, and mentalization. As further investigations in psychoanalysis come to fruition, we seek to present them in readable, easily comprehensible writing.

After 25 years, the core vision of this series remains the investigation, analysis and discussion of developments on the cutting edge of the psychoanalytic field, inspired by a boundless spirit of inquiry.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PSYCHOLOGY / Movements / Psychoanalysis
PSYCHOLOGY / Mental Health