The Psychology of Intimacy

Article excerpt

New York: Guilford Press. 1995. 367 pp. Hardcover ISBN 1-57230-006-X. $35.00 cloth.

The Psychology of Intimacy has three stated objectives: (a) to present a conceptualization of intimacy that organizes and stimulates theory and research; (b) to apply this conceptualization to the existing theoretical, empirical, and clinical literatures in such a way as to represent what we know and do not know about intimacy; and (c) to develop a framework that establishes the importance of contextual factors so that they are figural rather than ground in the analysis of intimacy.

The Psychology of Intimacy provides a comprehensive compilation of theory and research. The coverage is appropriately heavy on social psychological research, but it is also quite eclectic. As such, it is a valuable resource for researchers, teachers, students, and professionals.

Karen Prager's book has three outstanding attributes that distinguish it. First, the method of analysis provides an exemplar of careful, thorough, and comprehensive scholarship. This book transcends a mere summary of extant literature. Key conceptual frameworks are regularly presented and then systematically applied to sift through, organize, and evaluate the strengths and deficiencies of the knowledge base, theoretical points of view, methodologies, and their implications. These conceptual frameworks anchor the presentation. Be forewarned that these frameworks include important nuances. For example, the conceptual distinctions between "intimate relations" and "relational intimacy," between "intimate interactions" and "intimate relations," and between "emotional communication" and "emotional expression" are examples of careful scholarship by the author that can confuse the casual reader. …