Being in Love

Therapeutic Pathways Through Psychological Obstacles to Love

Judith Pickering

Routledge, 2008, ISBN: 978-0-415-37161-2

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Judith Pickering’s book is a sweeping, awe-inspiring, fulfilling and erudite revisioning of the most important subject we ever experience and confront… Her work is rich, extensive, profound, and I am tempted to say that she has left no stone that I know of unturned in regard to the experience of love. – James Grotstein

Finding true love is a journey of transformation obstructed by numerous psychological obstacles. Being in Love expands the traditional field of psychoanalytic couple therapy, and explores therapeutic methods of working through the obstacles leading to true love. Becoming who we are is an inherently relational journey: we uncover our truest nature and become most authentically real through the difficult and fearful crucibles of our intimate relationships. In this book, Judith Pickering searches for pathways that lead away from relational confusion towards the discovery of genuine transformational relationships, and works towards finding better ways of relating to one another. This is achieved by encouraging couples to enjoy the actual presence, humanity, otherness and particularity of each other rather than expecting a partner to conform to our expectations, projections, desires and presuppositions. Pickering draws on clinical material, contemporary psychoanalysis, cultural themes from the worlds of mythology and literature, and a wealth of therapeutic pathways in this fresh approach to couple therapy.


Doug Bannerman

“Finding true love” writes Judith Pickering “is a journey of transformation obstructed by numerous psychological obstacles.” Most of us have discovered this over time, as we have stumbled around the territory of growth and personal transformation.

Judith’s book is simply magnificent in its scope and compass. What sets it apart in my mind is the almost seamless synthesis of a constellation of the disciplines that have coalesced around relational considerations in psychoanalysis. James Grotstein, in his foreword, remarks that in this “rich, extensive and profound work” Judith appears to have left no stone unturned.

Being in Love is one of the most accessible pieces of writing it has been my pleasure to read for a long time. Judith’s deftness with language is a pleasure in itself, the grammar and syntax such that I never had to read a sentence twice. Clarity of expression, delectable prose, and illumination of familiar concepts are phrases that leapt to my mind as I read this book. It is, moreover, a profoundly generous and ethical work.

Although written from a perspective of couples relationships, this work illuminates all aspects of relationship – with self and with other.

Judith so presents a blend of theoretical material, storytelling and case material that one is mostly unaware of the transitions from one to the other. In all, this is an enjoyable and informative read. If you only read one book during the rest of the year, let this be the one.

Anne de Lauro: President CG Jung Society of Queensland
Introduction: Brisbane Book Launch Friday 4th September, 2009

It gives me great pleasure to introduce Dr Judith Pickering and her book “Being in Love: Therapeutic Pathways through Psychological Obstacles to Love”.

We wanted to give Judith’s book exposure to a wider public through this Brisbane book launch because its themes are universal.

For who has not felt the ecstasy and the pain of being in love?  Judith Pickering’s book “Being in Love” touches us all.

When I began reading Judith’s book, I quickly realised that there was a lot more to the title than meets the eye. The phrase “Being in Love” could at first sight appear quite banal, quite “Yes, I know what that means. It means being out of your mind”. I soon saw, though, that each word in the title is loaded with philosophical meaning. The word “Being” suggests the search for ultimate truth about who we are and our way of being in the world. The word “in” denotes our psychic habitat, what we live in – all that surrounds us, the metaphorical air that we breathe. As for the word “Love”, the nature of Love has been discussed by philosophers since the time of the ancient Greeks.

The first part of Judith’s book is a wide-ranging gathering of philosophical and psychoanalytical ideas about relationship and love. Besides the writings of Jung, Freud, Klein, Winnicott and Bion, she opens us to the ideas of philosophers such as the contemporary Belgian feminist philosopher and psychoanalyst Luce Irigaray and the French philosopher and religious thinker Emanuel Levinas, who made ethical responsibility for “the Other” the bedrock of his philosophy.  I was delighted to make their acquaintance in this book.

Judith tells us that it is love that takes us out of our sense of separateness and creates the desire to bridge the gulf between oneself and the Other – not so that two fuse or merge into one but so that two become two whole beings who cherish and delight in each other in love and friendship. Why is it so difficult to achieve this? Why the desire to merge, to fuse, to cannibalise or annihilate the Otherness of the other? The middle section of the book explores all of the possible obstacles – the dysfunctions – that must be overcome to achieve authentic relationship.  And she illustrates this section richly with case material from her own practice.

The short last section has a meditative tone, as she returns to the philosophical themes of the first part.

Judith’s book is a work of wisdom that holds out a vision – that of the possibility of authentic relationship. To reach this goal is a struggle and this struggle is an essential part of our journey towards becoming our adult selves – what C.G. Jung called the journey of Individuation.

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