Sexual excitement is as individual as a fingerprint and as complex as a psychological life-history, For most people it is a melodrama composed of the past and present, building on tensions of risk, mystery, illusion, hostility, and revenge. Consciously or unconsciously, we relive our earliest experiences and become aroused when we can turn the traumas of early life into the triumph of sexual pleasure.
Through the story of Belle, a young woman in psychoanalysis, Professor Robert Stoller advances the theory that sexual excitement, from the most aberrant to the relatively normal, is related to hostility, the desire to harm. At the center of Belle’s character is a key erotic fantasy that contains in symbolic language, her sexual autobiography. In fantasy, Belle rewrites the story of her life, exacting mastery over and revenge on the important figures who caused her pain in the distant past. Her adult erotic pleasure is a literal, though hidden and ritualized, victory over the inevitable defeats of childhood.
Robert J. Stoller, M.D., is a psychoanalyst and professor of psychiatry at UCLA. He is a member of the American Psychoanalytic Association, and has been studying the development of gender identity for many years. His previous books include Sex and… More about Robert J. Stoller, M.D.
“Everyone concerned with the contradictions in human behavior knows what an important role sexuality plays in the lives of normal, perverse, and neurotic individuals. With all our knowledge about the vicissitudes of erotic behavior, however, there has been a huge gap in our understanding of the essential ingredients of sexual excitement. Dr. Robert Stoller fills that gap. His breakthrough in Sexual Excitement renders all of us who are seriously interested in human behavior a tremendous service. At last we have a book which makes all the components of eroticism come alive.” —Ralph R. Greenson, M.D.
Critics called Perversion “An elegant and subtle disquisition upon the essential ‘meaning’ of the sexual perversions . . . its author is that rare bird, a distinguished scientific authority who seems to revel and pleasure in the uses of language.” —The New Republic “A superb book on an apparently bizarre subject . . . subtle yet crystal clear, written with intellectual honesty.” —Kirkus Reviews