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The Inseparable Nature of Love and Aggression

Clinical and Theoretical Perspectives

Otto F. Kernberg, M.D.

  • ISBN 978-1-58562-428-7
  • Item #62428

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Otto Kernberg is a towering figure in the field of psychoanalysis and has accomplished seminal work in object relations and the treatment of borderline and narcissistic patients. This volume collects his recent work in several areas: severe personality disorders, couples in conflict, and religious experience. In each area, he explores the relationship between the psychoanalytic, clinical psychiatric, and neurobiological approaches, yielding insights and analysis that are compelling, thought-provoking, and at times startling in their penetrating brilliance. In addition, the book addresses the challenges that psychoanalysis faces in the current medical environment, and the need to strengthen its ties with academic institutions.

Beautifully written, the book is designed to both provoke questions and provide enlightenment on a variety of critical issues within psychotherapy. Specifically, the volume:

  • Explores new approaches to diagnosis and new psychotherapeutic techniques to treat the most severe personality disorders, particularly severe narcissistic psychopathology, based on new research findings;
  • Relates psychoanalytic theory to neurobiological findings by illuminating the influences of neurobiological structures and intrapsychic conflicts on the development of the personality;
  • Examines the psychoanalytic and neurobiological underpinnings of sexual love, from the organization of brain structures and neurotransmitters to the overall systems of erotic activation, attachment and bonding. This systematic approach provides insight into the nature of passionate love and the psychodynamic features of the love relationship;
  • Addresses psychodynamic factors in the religious experience and the search for universal ethical values, and explores the crucial function of religious experience in dealing with the ideological challenges of social life; and
  • Identifies the serious problems facing psychoanalytic education, institutions, and the profession of psychoanalysis, and proposes solutions to energize the field and increase its contributions to scientific research and progress.

In The Inseparable Nature of Love and Aggression: Clinical and Theoretical Perspectives, Kernberg demonstrates his belief that the collaboration of psychoanalysis and neurobiology has the potential to significantly advance our understanding of the human mind. The full spectrum of mental health clinicians, as well as educated general readers, will find this to be a work of creativity and substance.


  • About the Author
  • Introduction
  • Acknowledgments
  • PART I: Severe Personality Disorders
  • Chapter 2. Psychoanalytic Individual and Group Psychotherapy THE TRANSFERENCE-FOCUSED PSYCHOTHERAPY (TFP) MODEL
  • Chapter 3. Mentalization, Mindfulness, Insight, Empathy, and Interpretation
  • Chapter 5. The Almost Untreatable Narcissistic Patient
  • Chapter 6. The Destruction of Time in Pathological Narcissism
  • Chapter 7. Supervision THE SUPERVISOR'S TASKS
  • PART II: Reflections on Psychoanalytic Theory and Its Applications
  • Chapter 8. Psychoanalytic Affect Theory in the Light of Contemporary Neurobiological Findings
  • Chapter 9. The Concept of the Death Drive A CLINICAL PERSPECTIVE
  • Chapter 10. Some Observations on the Process of Mourning
  • PART III: The Psychology of Sexual Love
  • Chapter 11. The Sexual Couple A PSYCHOANALYTIC EXPLORATION
  • Chapter 12. Limitations to the Capacity to love
  • Chapter 13. Sexual Pathology in Borderline Patients
  • PART IV: Contemporary Challenges for Psychoanalysis
  • Chapter 14. Psychoanalysis and the University A DIFFICULT RELATIONSHIP
  • Chapter 15. Dissidence in Psychoanalysis: A PSYCHOANALYTIC REFLECTION
  • PART V: The Psychology of Religious Experience
  • Chapter 16. Psychoanalytic Perspectives on the Religious Experience
  • Chapter 17. The Emergence of a Spiritual Realm
  • Index

About the Authors

Otto Kernberg, M.D., is Director of the Personality Disorders Institute, Professor of Psychiatry, and DeWitt Wallace Senior Scholar at the Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, New York, and Training and Supervising Analyst, Columbia University Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research. Dr. Kernberg formerly served as Director of the C.F. Menninger Memorial Hospital, Supervising and Training Analyst of the Topeka Institute for Psychoanalysis, and Director of the Psychotherapy Research Project of the Menninger Foundation. The recipient of many awards for excellence in psychiatry and author of numerous books in the field, he is also Past President of the International Psychoanalytical Association.

Otto Kernberg is one of the most important thinkers in contemporary psychoanalysis. This, his latest volume, collects his recent work on the treatment of severe personality disorders, on sex and love, on psychoanalytic theory, and on the troubles of the psychoanalytic profession. Throughout the book we are treated to the familiar clarity of his thinking and to his skill in moving from theory to practice, and from the experience of practice back to the reformulation of theory. A must for the shelf of every practicing therapist.—Robert Michels, M.D., Walsh McDermott University Professor of Medicine and Psychiatry Cornell University

This didactic volume advances modern thinking about mental disturbances and their treatments, with psychoanalysis envisioned as one of the basic sciences of the mind. Kernberg develops a modern understanding of psychological therapies, contextualized in classic psychodynamic underpinnings. He puts many subtle dimensions of the mental apparatus in perspective without marginalizing alternative approaches to the therapeutic conversation. He encourages an open engagement with a variety of new approaches that integrate how developmental landscapes and traumatic vicissitudes interweave with various therapies to influence mental health outcomes. This is a clear articulation of the synergistic value of classic conceptions, new scientific perspectives and future inquires in clarifying the power of clinical practice. Kernberg's vision of therapeutic dynamics consolidates lasting lessons from the past with modern perspectives to facilitate maximally effective therapeutic practice along with a new scientific understanding of the underlying mind-brain dynamics.—Jaak Panksepp, Ph.D., Baily Endowed Professor of Animal Well-Being Science Washington State University

This volume reflects the extraordinary knowledge and clinical experience of one of the world's most respected psychoanalysts. The reader will recognize the evolution of Kernberg's writings that reflect a master clinician with genuine wisdom and compassion both for patients with severe personality disorders and for the therapist. I would recommend The Inseparable Nature of Love and Aggression to psychiatric residents, psychiatrists, psychologists, psychoanalysts, and psychotherapists as well as to the psychodynamically informed general reader.—Martin Klapheke, M.D., Journal of Psychiatric Practice, 11/1/2012

This author's work is always fascinating and thought-provoking. This book is well worth the time to read, especially for those who treat patients with severe personality disorders. I particularly enjoyed his efforts at bringing together neurobiology, affect theory, and psychoanalytic thought. This is an excellent addition to Dr. Kernberg's lexicon and I strongly recommend it.—Brett Plyler, M.D., Doody Enterprises, Inc.

Kernberg's The Inseparable Nature of Love and Aggression: Clinical and Theoretical Perspectives could more accurately be titled 'The Very Best of Otto F. Kernberg.' It will be thoroughly enjoyed and valued as an outstanding clinical and theoretical textbook by any experienced clinician and academician who recognizes the conceptual value of the unconscious and is already familiar with the basic tenets of psychodynamic and object relations theory.—Gregory Mavrides, PsycCRITIQUES, 5/15/2013

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