Inconceivable Conceptions: Psychological Aspects of Infertility and Reproductive Technology

By Jane Haynes; Juliet Miller | Go to book overview

Chapter 5

Eros and ART

Joan Raphael-Leff

Joan Raphael-Leff, a psychoanalyst, has for twenty-five years specialised in reproductive issues.

Psychoanalysis has informed our understanding that sex is not merely a meeting of bodily parts or their insertion into the other but flesh doing the bidding of fantasy. Between two bodies locked in erotic attraction, a delicate tissue of interwoven imagery is fabricated, so strong it can withstand the cruellest of tests; so fragile, the magic of desire can be dispelled as irrevocably as belief in the tooth fairy.

Having discovered infantile sources for adult passions-'Originally we knew only sexual objects' (Freud 1912:105)-Freud also indicated both the specificity of each individual's 'preconditions' for falling in love and the generic origin of desire: 'Sucking at the mother's breast is the starting-point of the whole of sexual life, the unmatched prototype of every later sexual satisfaction.' Noting that this initiation underpins later elaborations : '…I can give you no idea of the important bearing of this first object upon the choice of every later object, of the profoundest effects it has in its transformations and substitutions in even the remotest regions of our sexual life' (Freud 1916-17:314).

In adulthood, sexual partners are often unconsciously selected not only for their resemblance to those significant early carers but for their 'transformational' capacity to re-elicit and transmute primary emotional states (Bollas 1979). We surrender ourselves to evocation and succour.

On many levels, magnetic attraction and/or being in love constitutes a form of re-cognition, investing the 'familiar' stranger with heightened desires transferred from internal familial figures. Not only is the mesmeric 'stranger' recognised as familial and ascribed attributes and functions of the original imagoes but these unconscious projections probe and occupy the other, intending to activate the desired familial response. When alchemy does spark off a corresponding 'live nerve', it may excite equally intensified, although not necessarily dovetailing, core states of mind in the other.

On some register (whether acknowledged or denied awareness, reciprocal or asymmetrical) in their lovemaking many lovers briefly occupy a nostalgic reconstruction, a 'sanctuary' of suspended restrictions, woven of intertwining tendrils from their respective internal worlds. At times, either or both partners may temporarily experience an illusory undoing of human severance. Poised on the

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Inconceivable Conceptions: Psychological Aspects of Infertility and Reproductive Technology
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgements x
  • Introduction 1
  • Chapter 1 - Introduction 3
  • Chapter 2 - Assisted Reproductive Technology and the Fertility Clinic 11
  • Experiencing Infertility 17
  • Chapter 3 - Clinical Waste 19
  • Chapter 4 - One Man's Story 27
  • Psychological Aspects 31
  • Chapter 5 - Eros and Art 33
  • Notes 45
  • Chapter 6 - Mourning the Never Born and the Loss of the Angel 47
  • Chapter 7 - The Battle with Mortality and the Urge to Procreate 60
  • Bibliography 72
  • Chapter 8 - Myths and Reality in Male Infertility 73
  • Bibliography 84
  • Chapter 9 - Love, Hate and the Generative Couple 86
  • Changing Patterns of Kinship 103
  • Chapter 10 - The Story of Seth's Egg 105
  • Chapter 11 - Seth 109
  • Chapter 12 - Gifts of Life in Absentia 120
  • Chapter 13 - Women's Work 143
  • Bibliography 165
  • Chapter 14 - Egg Donation 166
  • The Shadow 179
  • Chapter 15 - Dark Reflections 181
  • Afterword 205
  • Chapter 16 - Afterword 207
  • Appendix 217
  • Glossary of Terms Used in Art (Assisted Reproductive Technology) 219
  • Index 227
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