The Genesis of Desire

The Genesis of Desire

Jean-Michel Oughourlian
Translated by Eugene Webb
Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 176
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  • Book Info
    The Genesis of Desire
    Book Description:

    We seem to be abandoning the codes that told previous generations who they should love. But now that many of us are free to choose whoever we want, nothing is less certain. The proliferation of divorces and separations reveal a dynamic we would rather not see: others sometimes reject us as passionately as we are attracted to them.Our desire makes us sick. The throes of rivalry are at the heart of our attraction to one another. This is the central thesis of Jean-Michel Oughourlian'sThe Genesis of Desire, where the war of the sexes is finally given a scientific explanation. The discovery of mirror neurons corroborates his ideas, clarifying the phenomena of empathy and the mechanisms of violent reciprocity.How can a couple be saved when they have declared war on one another? By helping them realize that desire originates not in the self but in the other. There are strategies that can help, which Dr. Oughourlian has prescribed successfully to his patients. This work, alternating between case studies and more theoretical statements, convincingly defends the possibility that breakups need not be permanent.

    eISBN: 978-1-60917-126-1
    Subjects: Philosophy, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-16)

    I have been practicing as a psychiatrist for forty years. My professors taught me, during my internship and clinical residency, to diagnose pathologies of mood and temperament (mania, melancholy, depression of various types), of personality (psychoses and neuroses), and of behavior (sexual, eating, social, etc.). I learned, like all my colleagues, to treat these with medications. There can be no doubt that psychopharmacology has made extraordinary progress during these last forty years, revolutionizing our view of mental illnesses and especially our ways of handling them and our ideas about their prognoses.

    During my years of clinical practice, however, something became...

  5. CHAPTER 1 Psychological Movement
    (pp. 17-42)

    To be able to reflect on desire, I propose to give it a definition that seems to me both appropriate and sufficiently broad to allow investigators from a variety of fields to think about it together:desire is psychological movement. In psychology, there is no movement that is not desire, and there is no desire that is not movement.

    Every movement requires anenergy, a “driving force.” It also supposes afinality,that is, agoaltoward which its trajectory can be oriented—some object, an idea or an ideal that can order it, attract it, give it definiteness. The...

  6. CHAPTER 2 The Creation and the Fall
    (pp. 43-80)

    I would like to propose the hypothesis that the text of Genesis and the idea of “original sin” interpret through metaphor the birth of psychological man, that is, of humanity, of the couple, and of desire. In connection with this, I also propose to show that this birth of psychological man, like that of social man, is brought about by purely mimetic mechanisms.

    Chapter 1 of Genesis, the first version of the creation story, sets the scene:

    In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was a formless void, there was darkness over the deep,...

  7. CHAPTER 3 Universal Mimesis
    (pp. 81-106)

    What is it that makes for the cohesion of the human race? What can explain the way human beings take such an interest in each other and try to live together? What is it that both draws them together and pushes them apart, unites them and sets them in opposition to one another? These are questions that philosophers, anthropologists, and psychologists have been intrigued by for centuries. Each discipline has been exploring along its own lines the mysterious, universal attraction that human beings exert on each other, and each has tried to find its own answers. Some of the intuitions...

  8. CHAPTER 4 The Clinical Analysis of Rivalry
    (pp. 107-144)

    The two nodal points N and N', that were identified in our inquiry into theoretical psychopathology do not offer themselves to be seen distinctly as such in a clinical setting. Their clinical expression is usually simultaneous, with the subject laying claim at the same time to both his ownership (N') of his desire and its anteriority (N) in relation to the other’s desire.

    To speak of “laying a claim” is to speak of rivalry. This is the case each time the model in the interdividual relation becomes cast in the role of rival or obstacle.

    Sometimes, however, the model remains...

  9. EPILOGUE. Can One Rescue a Relationship?
    (pp. 145-158)

    The first comment I would like to make to conclude all these reflections is that diagnosis must precede treatment. Diagnosis in the kind of cases we have been talking about must first of all include assuring ourselves that the members of the couple are of good will, that is, that they wish to get out of their predicament, that they are willing to consider new ideas, and that they have decided to view the therapist as an ally rather than as an adversary or rival whose worthlessness, at best, or whose toxicity, at worst, has to be demonstrated. At least...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 159-166)
  11. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 167-170)
  12. Index
    (pp. 171-174)