• Sexuality: Existential Perspectives

Sexuality: Existential Perspectives

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ISBN 978 1 906254 70 4 (2014)
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Sexuality is a fascinating phenomenon. Familiar to us all, it pervades the personal, social and cultural areas of life; it also remains an elusive and confusing aspect of our existence. Within a range of disciplines, gender studies, psychology, psychoanalysis and sociology to name but a few, great strides have been made in enriching our understandings of sexuality and its wide variations of practice, identity, orientation and relationship forms, across context and across culture. The understandings that existential philosophy and psychotherapy can contribute have often been overlooked as they frequently languish one by one, in hard to access journals. Sexuality: Existential Perspectives changes all this. Leading voices in existential philosophy and psychotherapy provide clear insight into sexuality and its related manifestations, offering perspectives that warrant consideration both within and beyond the consulting room.

Foreword – Dr Elena Manafi

Introduction - Sexuality: Debates and controversies - Dr Martin Milton

Section 1: Existential perspectives on sexuality

Chapter 1 Being sexual: Reconfiguring human sexuality. Prof. Ernesto Spinelli

Chapter 2 Being-in-the-world sexually - Dr Hans W Cohn

Section 2: Drawing on the philosophers: Merleau-Ponty and Sartre

Chapter 3 Merleau-Ponty and existential sexuality – Dr Paul Smith-Pickard

Chapter 4 Sexual expression, authenticity and Bad Faith – Richard Pearce

Section 3: A gay essence?

Chapter 5 The freedom to be fixed: Can I be a homosexual please? – Dr Marc Medina

Section 4: Existential perspectives on affirmative therapy

Chapter 6 Gay affirmative therapy: A critique and some reflections on the value of an existential-phenomenological theory of sexual identity – Prof. Simon du Plock

Chapter 7 Gay affirmative therapy: Recognizing the power of the social world – Prof. Darren Langdridge

Section 5: Contemporary concerns

Chapter 8 Being sexual: Childhood and sexuality – Prof. Ernesto Spinelli

Chapter 9 Open non-monogamies: Drawing on de Beauvoir and Sartre to inform existential work with romantic relationships – Meg-John Barker

Chapter 10 Trans and existential-phenomenological practice – Christina Richards

Section 6: Sexuality and the consulting room

Chapter 11 A dangerous methodlessness: Sexuality in the therapeutic relationship – Marcia Gamsu

Chapter 12 Individual therapy and Foucault’s dark shimmer of sex – Dr Paul Smith-Pickard

Section 7: Existential contribution to specific modalities

Chapter 13 Existential group therapy: Hell is other people? – Christina Richards

Chapter 14 Existential sex therapy – Meg-John Barker

Chapter 15 ‘Three’s company, two’s a crowd’: Existential couple therapy – Prof. Simon du Plock

Chapter 16 Family therapy and sexuality: Liminal possibilities between systemic and existential approaches - Dr Alex Iantaffi

Epilogue – Dr Martin Milton

At a meeting of the Society for Existential Analysis in 1996, Prof. Ernesto Spinelli wryly commented that when dividing up the topics of interest, psychoanalysis had gotten sex and the existentialists had gotten death. He then went on to present his paper ‘Some Hurried Outlines ...’ (Spinelli, 1997). As Medina (this volume) reminds us, Spinelli wasn't the only one of this opinion. Medina quotes Smith-Pickard and Swynnerton (2005) as saying that the area had 'barely been explored' and notes that Cohn wrote that the topic was 'strangely neglected' (1997). People might be forgiven for thinking that this ‘split’ has been absolute but, as this book demonstrates, things have changed and more recently existential theorists and practitioners are offering a variety of perspectives to facilitate debate and assist us in clarifying and understanding human sexuality more fully.

Professor Martin Milton, from the Introduction, Sexuality: Existential Perspectives.

'A fascinating--and, at times, controversial--collection of chapters that significantly extends the boundaries of existential thought and therapeutic practice.  This is an invaluable resource for existential therapists, and for all counsellors and psychotherapists with an interest in the sexual choices, givens and dilemmas at the very core of human existence.' Mick Cooper, Professor of Counselling Psychology, University of Roehampton

'This book is lovely to read. Martin Milton has edited the work from a wonderful collection of existential authors and together they have provided a delightful read. Covering meanings, definitions, theories and practitioner experiences of working with, through and beyond sexuality, every chapter provides knowledge and depth exploring what happens when a therapist is confronted by a whole range of ideas and feeling about sexuality. All the contributors have worked extremely hard in putting together their thoughts and it is a testament to Martin to see how well he has co- ordinated their ideas and efforts into this needed book.' Dr Igi Moon, Chartered Psychologist in independent practice and Chair of the MoU Coalition Against Conversion Therapy

Martin Milton

Prof. Martin Milton is Professor of Counselling Psychology at Regents University London and also runs an independent practice in counselling psychology and psychotherapy. He is editor of Diagnosis and Beyond (PCCS Books, 2012) and Therapy and Beyond (Wiley-Blackwell, 2010) and has published in a range of academic journals. Martin is on the editorial board of  Counselling Psychology Review and Psychology of Sexualities Review.

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Martin Milton