The psychoanalytic situation is a privileged place that allows us to observe how the experience of love continues to unfold its “natural” ingredients in multiple and unexpected forms, marked by an intrinsic conflictuality, between intermittences, contradictory urges, and complex blends of diverse components.
The love experience implies inevitable, unavoidable, and interminable change, dictated at the same time by need and impossibility. It is a powerful and indispensable matrix of bonds, aggregations, and constructions. But its path is anything but straight. It is a labyrinth that calls for “psychical expenditure” (Freud, 1905, p. 148), as it has been described.
So this book talks about love, about how we fall in love, why we fall in love, and how much we suffer the pangs of love when we cannot love or be loved. It does not aim to define passion, which by its very nature escapes definition or, rather, gracefully conforms to it for a moment but then breaks loose, leaving its victims high and dry.
Instead, here I intend to talk primarily about how all this is experienced, tackled, shared, and worked through during the analytic experience.
In his clinical practice, an analyst is constantly participating in the infinite vicissitudes and sufferings of his patients’ love lives.
The roots of love are already there in early infancy. However, primitive childhood experiences alone are not sufficient to explain the complex and infinite vicissitudes that passion encounters and develops during our lives. When we fall in love, we stage the experiences and the unconscious phantasies of our past life through the mechanism of projective identification. Therefore, love plays a key role in the formation of idealisation, and in the development of illusion and disappointment, but in time the idealisation changes with the changing of the individual and society.
Foreword: What place does the subject have in love?
Theoretical psychoanalytical contributions
Freud[AS1] [HG2] , and the relationship between love and genitality
Balint, and the theory of primary love
Kernberg, and the difference between the capacity to love and to maintain a relationship over time
Bion, and love as a search for the absolute
Ways of seeing: the role of vision
The mother–child way of seeing
The artist’s way of seeing
Nostalgia, or “something to love”
Francesca and her cumbersome baggage
Francesca and the rabbit
The unbearableness of being abandoned
Alessandra, prisoner of shame
When Alessandra started her descent
Was the living room empty or full?
Elisabetta was so beautiful
The monster from the sea
Transference love: “There really was absolutely nothing to be done…”
The erotic transference: theoretical considerations
Gianmarco and his struggle to survive
The lake and no fish
Maternal love: “Flowing-over-at-oneness” (F. Tustin)
Alice, and murdered time
The circle is not round
Love in old age
Making choices; not making choices
Incapacity to love
Ordinary people: Antonella
Ordinary people: Andrea
The homosexual universe and physical perfection
Love on the silver screen
L’année dernière à Marienbad