Psychoanalytic Perspectives on Women and Power in Contemporary Fiction: Malice, the Victim and the Couple

Author(s) : Rossella Valdre

Psychoanalytic Perspectives on Women and Power in Contemporary Fiction: Malice, the Victim and the Couple

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Psychoanalytic Perspectives on Women and Power in Contemporary Fiction psychoanalytically examines contemporary fiction portraying the female in a reversal of the stereotyped victim role. The recent popularity of powerful female characters suggests that literature is ahead in its understanding the desires, fantasies and unconscious emotions of the public. This book explores a form of intimacy frequently observed in consulting rooms and in life in general: malicious intimacy. Specific to the conjugal bond, it is a type of intimacy connected to the relationship between the two halves of the couple that is extremely powerful and painful.

Instead of clinical cases, Rossella Valdre examines four contemporary and widely successful novels, published contemporaneously, which capture perfectly this type of psychopathological universe. Valdre then maps out psychoanalytic hypotheses regarding the persistency of these malicious intimacies. Through analysis of these examples, Valdre investigates the roots and hypotheses of a new scenario on victim-executioner roles played out in the intimacy of the couple. Exploring how and if the contemporary couple is undergoing profound changes, she provides an overview of the various deep-seated psychological mechanisms and unconscious dynamics that may be at work. The book explores the need to not be dependant upon a love object as an extreme defence against abandonment or self-collapse. Valdre argues that such a configuration is very common, and that Idealization in contemporary life is one of the reasons behind the most of sufferance in modern couples, something which psychoanalysis can examine through art.

Women, perhaps, after emancipation, are living overturned roles and paying a higher cost as a result. Psychoanalytic Perspectives on Women and Power in Contemporary Fiction will appeal to psychoanalysts and psychoanalytic psychotherapists, and be of interest to scholars and students of literature, gender studies, philosophy and sociology.

About the Author(s)

Rossella Valdrè is a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst and a member of the SPI (Società Psicoanalitica Italiana) and the IPA (International Psychoanalytical Association). A graduate of the University of Genoa, she trained in Genoa and then in Milan. After her early years in institutional work, in recent years she has concentrated on her private psychoanalytical practice whilst she is also a supervisor in institutional environments and a court-appointed expert for the Juvenile Courts. For some years now she has been teaching psychoanalytic theory at the Faculty of Psychology of Genoa University. Her interest in cinema and psychoanalysis has led to the publication of film reviews ( and the presentation of films in different psychoanalytic centres. She is author of the book La lingua sognata della realtà. Cinema e psicoanalisi nell’esplorazione della contemporaneità (The dream language of reality: Cinema and psychoanalysis in the exploration of contemporaneity, published by Antigone, 2013). In addition to cinema, her fields of interest include the extension of psychoanalysis into the world of culture, art, literature and society, always connecting and interpreting in the light of psychoanalytic theory, with particular attention to Freudian metapsychology. Author of work and reviews in the Rivista di Psicoanalisi, film essays in the International Journal and book reviews in the Revue Francaise de Psychanalyse, she lives and works in Genoa.

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