We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

The Genesis of Desire

Jean-Michel Oughourlian

Publication Year: 2010

We seem to be abandoning the codes that told previous generations who they should love. But now that many of us are free to choose whoever we want, nothing is less certain. The proliferation of divorces and separations reveal a dynamic we would rather not see: others sometimes reject us as passionately as we are attracted to them.
     Our desire makes us sick. The throes of rivalry are at the heart of our attraction to one another. This is the central thesis of Jean-Michel Oughourlian's The Genesis of Desire, where the war of the sexes is finally given a scientific explanation. The discovery of mirror neurons corroborates his ideas, clarifying the phenomena of empathy and the mechanisms of violent reciprocity.
     How can a couple be saved when they have declared war on one another? By helping them realize that desire originates not in the self but in the other. There are strategies that can help, which Dr. Oughourlian has prescribed successfully to his patients. This work, alternating between case studies and more theoretical statements, convincingly defends the possibility that breakups need not be permanent.

Published by: Michigan State University Press

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (44.4 KB)
pp. ix-x

It is to Ren

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (115.2 KB)
pp. 1-16

I have been practicing as a psychiatrist for forty years. My professors taught me, during my internship and clinical residency, to diagnose pathologies of mood and temperament (mania, melancholy, depression of various types), of personality (psychoses and neuroses), and of behavior (sexual, eating, social, etc.). I learned, like all my colleagues, to treat these with medications. There can be no doubt that psychopharmacology has made extraordinary progress during these last forty years...

read more

Ch. 1: Psychological Movement

pdf iconDownload PDF (221.7 KB)
pp. 17-42

To be able to reflect on desire, I propose to give it a definition that seems to me both appropriate and sufficiently broad to allow investigators from a variety of fi elds to think about it together: desire is psychological movement. In psychology, there is no movement that is not desire, and there is no desire that is not movement...

read more

Ch. 2: The Creation and the Fall

pdf iconDownload PDF (313.7 KB)
pp. 43-80

I would like to propose the hypothesis that the text of Genesis and the idea of “original sin” interpret through metaphor the birth of psychological man, that is, of humanity, of the couple, and of desire. In connection with this, I also propose to show that this birth of psychological man, like that of social man, is brought about by purely mimetic mechanisms...

read more

Ch. 3: Universal Mimesis

pdf iconDownload PDF (265.7 KB)
pp. 81-106

It took only a few steps for me to arrive at the theory of imitation. What is it that makes for the cohesion of the human race? What can explain the way human beings take such an interest in each other and try to live together? What is it that both draws them together and pushes them apart, unites them and sets them in opposition to one another? These are questions that...

read more

Ch. 4: The Clinical Analysis of Rivalry

pdf iconDownload PDF (265.9 KB)
pp. 107-144

The two nodal points N and N', that were identified in our inquiry into theoretical psychopathology do not offer themselves to be seen distinctly as such in a clinical setting. Their clinical expression is usually simultaneous, with the subject laying claim at the same time to both his ownership (N' ) of his desire and its anteriority (N) in relation to the other’s desire...

read more

Epilogue: Can One Rescue a Relationship?

pdf iconDownload PDF (119.7 KB)
pp. 145-158

The first comment I would like to make to conclude all these reflections is that diagnosis must precede treatment. Diagnosis in the kind of cases we have been talking about must first of all include assuring ourselves that the members of the couple are of good will, that is, that they wish to get out of their predicament, that they are willing to consider new ideas, and that...


pdf iconDownload PDF (83.3 KB)
pp. 159-166

Selected Bibliography

pdf iconDownload PDF (60.6 KB)
pp. 167-170


pdf iconDownload PDF (62.2 KB)
pp. 171-174

E-ISBN-13: 9781609171261
Print-ISBN-13: 9780870138768

Page Count: 176
Publication Year: 2010