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Jul 2014 by PCI College

Bite-Sized Book Review 'Barriers to Loving: A Clinician's Perspective' by Stephen B. Levine

'Barriers to Loving: A Clinician's Perspective' by Stephen B. Levine is reviewed this week by Antoinette Stanbridge, PCI College Lecturer

Rarely has a book stirred so much controversy in the world of professional helping as Stephen B.Levine’s Barriers to Loving: A Clinician's Perspective.

Over the past decade or so, the helping professions have fluently increased comfort in discussing matters of a sexual nature, from arousal and disorders of desire to sexual addiction and back again. As clinicians we regularly come across the client who has fallen for a professional sex worker in the full knowledge that their relationship is but a fantasy; yet this fiction feeds a hunger, a deeper desire for more than a passing sexual episode with another human being. Clients come to us on a daily basis, having been diagnosed with depression after a failed relationship or loss. Many clinicians despair of pathologising these everyday occurrences which are part of the human condition and it is a topic of much passionate debate within the profession. Love, however, is taboo.

Levine’s book is centred on what he describes as being the conspiracy within the mental health profession; to talk about everything, except love. Knowledge about love is not different from knowledge in general. In any field, it is difficult to establish a fact and discern organising principles and, he asserts, science is only one way of establishing facts and deducing organising principles.

His background as clinical professor of psychiatry at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine (and author of Sex is Not Simple, Sexual Life: A Clinician’s Guide, Sexuality in Midlife; Demystifying Love: Plain Talk for the Mental Health Professional and senior editor of the Handbook of Clinical Sexuality for Mental Health Professionals) and as a recipient of the Society for Sex Therapy and Research’s Masters and Johnson’s Award for Lifetime Achievement, leaves him well placed to draw on the differences between sex and love, fact and fantasy. He has made a very radical step into this hitherto unchartered territory.
I highly recommend this book. It makes fascinating reading.

Antoinette Stanbridge (July 2014)
PCI College Faculty Lecturer

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