The Birth of Pleasure

Publisher: Vintage
Carol Gilligan, whose classic In a Different Voice revolutionized the study of human psychology, now offers a brilliant, provocative book about love. Why is love so often associated with tragedy, she asks. Why are our experiences of pleasure so often shadowed by loss? And can we change these patterns?

Gilligan observes children at play and adult couples in therapy and discovers that the roots of a more hopeful view of love are all around us. She finds evidence in new psychological research and traces a path leading from the myth of Psyche and Cupid through Shakespeare’s plays and Freud’s case histories, to Anne Frank’s diaries and contemporary novels. Groundbreaking and immensely readable, The Birth of Pleasure has powerful implications for the way we live and love.

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A Radical Geography of Love

Let it be Like wild flowers, Suddenly, an imperative of the field...

--YEHUDA AMICHAI

For years, without knowing why, I have been drawn to maps of the desert, drawn by descriptions of the winds and the wadi--dry watercourses that suddenly fill with rain. I began...
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PRAISE FOR

“Compelling . . . a thrilling new paradigm.” –The Times Literary Supplement

“Here is human connection thoughtfully considered by one of our finest psychological and social observers. This book tells of the ways we seek companionship and love, the ways we affirm others, thereby finding ourselves, our hopes and aspirations.” --Robert Coles

“Gilligan has woven a tapestry of memories, myths and reflections that spirals like a shell and is structured like a dream but at its heart vanishes into the mystery of love . . . no small accomplishment.” --Elle

“[Gilligan] writes lyrically as she weaves myth and literature, interview and memoir.” --The Boston Phoenix

“An elegant and powerful narrative that runs through mythology, memoir and literature.” Ellen Goodman, The Boston Globe

“Why has the love story in Western culture long assumed that pleasure leads to death, that love leads to loss? Carol Gilligan, in this brilliantly written book, explores the history of these associations, then traces the roots of an alternate narrative and draws a map to send us on our way. This is a wonderful book!” —Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

“An original and elegant inquiry, a fine weave of vivid case studies of ‘couples in crisis’ and brilliant literary analysis.” —Booklist

“Here is human connection thoughtfully considered by one of our finest psychological and social observers. This book tells of the ways we seek companionship and love, the ways we affirm others, thereby finding ourselves, our hopes and aspirations.” —Robert Coles

“It does no less than reconfigure what it might mean to love and be loved, a revolutionary act in itself.” —Eve Ensler, author of The Vagina Monologues

“An intellectual tour de force . . . . a provocative liberal education between covers.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Carol Gilligan suggests that the acknowledgment of pleasure is a part of our authenticity and essential to truth telling. How refreshing to imagine that authenticity and honesty are as much about feeling good as the opposite.” —Anna Deavere Smith

“[Gilligan’s] mastery of literary sources and her intelligent but nonacademic writing make this an enjoyable, challenging work.” —Publishers Weekly

The Birth of Pleasure is reminiscent of Freud’s Civilization and Its Discontents—but with one striking difference. Where Freud sees tragedy as inescapable (symbolized for him by the Oedipus myth), Gilligan sees a history of psychologically driven resistance, as manifested in the myth of Psyche and Cupid.” —Psychotherapy Networker

“A revolutionary book that will transform our beliefs about love, pleasure, human possibility, and ourselves. Carol Gilligan is a thinker and prophet of luminous grace, courage, and compassion.” —Catharine Stimpson, University Professor and Dean, Graduate School of Arts and Science, New York University