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Mating in Captivity [Kindle Edition]

Esther Perel
4.5 von 5 Sternen  Alle Rezensionen anzeigen (2 Kundenrezensionen)

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From Publishers Weekly

Developed originally from an article she wrote on "erotic intelligence," psychotherapist Perel's first book sets forth a thesis for today's couples that is as revelatory as it is straightforward. Languishing desire in a relationship actually results from all the factors people look for in love and marriage: grounding, meaning, continuity. Partnerships are supposed to provide "a bulwark against the vicissitudes of modern life," Perel notes, and in one person we turn for all the emotional connections that the greater society (church, community, family) can no longer provide. Habit and certainty kill desire, yet how to live comfortably with the elements of unpredictability and risk that are necessary for healthy eroticism? Perel supports her nicely accessible work with case studies of couples both heterosexual and gay, spanning all ages, with kids and without, in an attempt to cure what ails their sex life. Some of the proposals Perel recommends for rekindling eroticism involve cultivating separateness (e.g., autonomy) in a relationship rather than closeness (entrapment); exploring dynamics of power and control (i.e., submission, spanking); and learning to surrender to a "sexual ruthlessness" that liberates us from shame and guilt. In short, Perel sanctions fantasy and play and offers the estranged modern couple a unique richness of experience. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


'An elegant sociological study, complete with erudite literary and anthropological references' Daily Telegraph 'Reads like a cross between the works of Jacques Lacan and French Women Don't Get Fat' The New Yorker 'At precisely the same moment that you're being shocked by her, you're also acknowledging the validity of her ideas. Perel's ideas are like the chorus of a really good pop song - instantly familiar because they resonate deeply. It's all rather terrifying in its intuitiveness and its pure rightness' Observer


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4 von 4 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen Watch the TED talk to know if this is for you. 30. April 2013
Format:Taschenbuch|Verifizierter Kauf
I found out about the author and this book via TED talks. I recommend watching it, before buying the book, just so you know whether or not this is for you.

Esther Perel talks about the power of imagination, disguise and words in connection with sex and desire. She confirms the old "Distance makes the heart grow fonder" by suggesting to create emotional distance in order to stay interesting and desirable for the partner. Most of what she writes is common sense - in my opinion.

Still, most couple will probably find something that will work for them. What might be true for everyone is opening up, being honest. Not just with your partner, but also with yourself. Don't sweep your feelings and fantasies under the carpet of everyday interaction.

Why 4 stars instead of 5?
After reading the book one might think that sex is the number one priority of every human being. I really hope the human race is not that hedonistic. After all, there are still other aspects of life.
War diese Rezension für Sie hilfreich?
Format:Kindle Edition|Verifizierter Kauf
Esther Perel's book does a good job of turning some fundamental ideas about relationships and relationship success on their head. I became aware of her via a TED talk that she gave recently about infidelity. Great talk, and that led me to buy this book. Her advice advocates that two people in a relationship must be allowed to maintain their autonomy and a bit of mystery BOTH if they want to be individually satisfied and if they want to continue to find each other attractive. She also gives many examples of patients from all different walks of life and all different ages so I can imagine that this book would be interesting to a very large audience. Really a must read for anyone who has been married / in a long-term relationship for more than 2 years and finds themselves moving away from the " head over heels in love" stage and into the "mature love" stage. She really clues you in to how relationships can happily exist long-term, and her answers are not necessarily those that I expected.
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Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf (beta) 4.4 von 5 Sternen  332 Rezensionen
494 von 543 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
3.0 von 5 Sternen Interesting, but disagreed with one part 10. Oktober 2008
Von Elisabeth - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Taschenbuch|Verifizierter Kauf
Because the author's ideas are provocative, this won't be an easy read. It wasn't for me, but an interesting read nonetheless. The author challenged all my beliefs about love and how relationships really work and I liked being challenged. She made me think in ways I had never before.

For example, her discussion on how desire needs distance -- but intimacy needs closeness -- and how these two conflict with each other in long-term relationships is dead on! But the author believes -- and I agree -- that it's possible to achieve both even if it seems impossible. She explains how this is possible without cornering you into believing only one method is the right way. There is no right way. Instead she shows how couples have managed to achieve this in their own way and discusses the pros and cons of each.

I also appreciated her discussion on how sexual fantasies differ from everyday fantasies. If you fantasize about the perfect job or the perfect mate, it's because you want these things to happen in reality. However, if you have a sexual fantasy about being raped, it doesn't mean that you want this to happen in reality. There's an element to your fantasy that is your true desire and in your sexual fantasies, you are in complete control about how this plays out.

So if I liked this book so much, why only 3 stars instead of 5? It's because there's a part where the author agrees with a client that it's respectful to withhold telling the truth about an affair. I've heard this argument before and I strongly disagree. I think it's disrespectful to decide for someone else (who's not your child) what they can and cannot handle. Withholding the truth is not about respect, it's about fear. If you told the truth, that person could leave you or retaliate in another way. Withholding the truth from them strips them of their choices in order to gain an unfair advantage over them. Lying to someone in order to keep them bound to you is not only selfish and controlling, it's also manipulative. It's just manipulation reframed in a positive way. And a surprising argument coming from an author who earlier argued against possessiveness. So, while I did enjoy the rest of this book, this part left me cold.

Otherwise, I think this is a very interesting and provocative book.
388 von 430 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Amazing: a couples therapist finds the sex in sex 22. September 2006
Von Jesse Kornbluth - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
Everyone knows that familiarity breeds contempt. Especially if familiarity comes with a wedding ring attached. A book about sex in marriage --- now there's a thin book!

But here comes Esther Perel to suggest that we --- men and women alike --- have it wrong. Good sex doesn't have to end when the hormones cool. Lust doesn't have to devolve into companionship. You can be a mom and a sex kitten. And as for "intimacy" the bedroom, a little goes a long way.

Who is this wild woman? A therapist in New York who's been working with couples and families for two decades. Belgian-born, to Holocaust survivors. Married (to her original husband). Two kids. Speaks eight languages --- including common sense.

Not for Perel a how-to book of ridiculous exercises you can practice to rekindle the passion you once knew. If she had her way, you'd never consult a manual again. You might, however, write a dirty letter about all the hot things you'd like to do to your partner --- or that you'd like done to you. Or maybe you should start two e-mail accounts just for the sexual dialogue between you and your mate.

But she's the mother of your child!

But he's the guy who only gets his kicks from online porn!

Perel has heard all that. Many times. She's not fooled --- underneath those smart New York rationalizations are hearts that still want to believe in hot sex with someone you know. The problem, she says, lie in the unspoken assumptions of most marriages.

Like: To love is to merge. Wrong. Merging is what happens when you see the Other as your security. That's death to sex. Good sex requires a spark. A spark requires a gap. Cross the gap, feel the sizzle. No gap? The best you can hope for is a cuddle.

"There is no such thing as 'safe sex,'" she writes. Sex requires mystery, excitement, uncertainty. Which means not knowing everything about your partner. You find that threatening? You'd find it less so if you stopped equating intimacy with sex.

Here's a radical thought: don't do everything together. Cultivate your own set of friends. Create differences, not affinities. "Ruthlessness is a way to achieve closeness" --- ponder that for a while. Monogamy? Great if you can honor it. But it is, statistics show, "a ship sinking faster than anyone can bail it out."

Infidelity is a symptom of deeper problems in the relationship? Many believe that. Perel doesn't. She finds life...complicated. She hates the verb "have" when used in relationships --- for her, no one "has" anyone. Relationships are negotiations, not assumptions. You can get crazy with someone you've lived with and known well --- if your "rules" allow that.

Eroticism, she says, is "sexuality transformed by the imagination." So, start dreaming. There's a big payoff: "Nurturing eroticism in the house is an act of open defiance."

I live in a city of therapists and in a neighborhood where they are at their most dense. I have done couples therapy; socially, I know several sex-and-couples therapists. All women. All buttoned-up --- their sexuality is not just unseen or tamped down, it's under lock-and-key. So it's a great relief to read Esther Perel. No question about it --- she's hot.
98 von 106 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
3.0 von 5 Sternen Mating in Captivity: A Book Only for Those Who Have Otherwise Functioning Marriages 23. Januar 2012
Von C. Slocum - Veröffentlicht auf
Esther Perel's Mating in Captivity is a book for helping marriages that are going well in every way but sexuality. The author wisely notes that the expectations of modern marriages are such that one's spouse is to fulfill one in every way. She posits that good sex and companionship exist on a continuum of tradeoffs between closeness and distances. The strength of this book is that it is thought-provoking. The challenge of this book is that its ideas are the author's, backed up by her experiences with her clients alone, with a narrow focus on a single topic.

Being a graduate student in sociology, I will admit a bias for the likes of John Gottman's work in part because it's based on social science research. Perel's research is not - its subjects are her clients, and selected accordingly. Another reviewer writes that Perel uses the word "perhaps" very often - she does. This book is full of speculation and opinion. Clinician based research means that her ideas work well for her clients - as far as she knows - but anyone who has sought a therapist knows that it can be very difficult to find a therapist that one works well with. Would she be a good match for you? Maybe, maybe not.

Her writing is good, and there are a couple "aha!" moments in the book. She discusses how sex is viewed in contradictory terms, and that women in particular struggle with the baggage of being "good" and being sexy. She argues that lovers need to rediscover the creativity that led them to pursue their spouses in the first place, and to think of them more as lovers and less like the wife or husband-role with the cultural baggage that comes with this. In the introduction, Perel writes that she uses the word "marriage" to refer to "all long-term emotional commitments". Despite that, it seems that the majority of her cases are married. She also says that she writes of same-sex partnerships, but they have a token presence at best. She does not comment about the race or class of her clients.

The author is European, and writes that "Americans think [something]" or "Americans often [do something]" in order to question taken-for-granted cultural beliefs. This rhetorical device can be useful in encouraging a reader to reconsider something that they know. An example of when this is helpful is when she discusses how motherhood is desexualized in America, or the contradiction between Puritanism and hedonism in chapter six. Occasionally it comes off as off-putting, as she'll insinuate that because other cultures have the better idea. An example of this is her discussion of infidelity in Chapter 10.

On page 186, she says, "To the American way of thinking, respect is bound up with honesty, and honesty is essential to personal responsibility. Hiding, dissimulation, and other forms of deception amount to disrespect. You lie only to those beneath you-children, constituents, employees. [paragraph break] In other cultures, respect is more likely to be expressed with gentle untruths that aim at preserving the partner's honor. ... Hence concealment not only maintains marital harmony, but also is a mark of respect." She then argues "informed by my own cultural influences, I defer to [client]'s decision to remain silent..."

The logical problem with this is that her client's partner is American, and informed by the American ideal of respect. This is downplayed, as the author seems to be reaching for a universal truth rather than meeting her clients in their cultural context. This is a case where opinion is valued over empirical truth - there is no data to support one or the other.

To encourage the erotic to reappear in relationships, Perel thinks couples should introduce insecurity and distance. This may be great for sex, but whether it is good for other parts of relationships is unexplored and remained an unanswered question for the rest of the book. Consequently, the advice she gives to her clients may not be useful to her readers. One example is that she encourages one woman to flirt with other men. It seems that her idea that distance will reignite eroticism is given exclusively in a context of relationships that are functioning with the exception of being sexually unfulfilled.

Mating in Captivity is worth reading, albeit with a grain of salt.
63 von 72 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
1.0 von 5 Sternen A One Page Book 18. März 2013
Von Katherine Cameron - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Taschenbuch|Verifizierter Kauf
I bought this book for myself and my mate of 45 years, after hearing the author on NPR. She sounded innovative and interesting in the interview. Sadly, the book is the opposite. This is a writer with one essential idea: intimacy and desire are at cross purposes with each other. In case you think this is a new idea, you have only to remember age-old quotes like "familiarity breeds contempt" to recall that this is a very OLD idea.

The author makes this one point over an over again, starting with the introduction, and then repeating herself, in slightly different words (or sometimes even the same words) throughout the book.

She makes a very spare number of specific recommendations to address the dilemma of intimacy and desire: (1) Don't assume you know everything about your partner, and cultivate a certain amount of mystery; (2) Don't expect desire to be "spontaneous" - it can be kindled just as well (or better) through forethought, scheduling and careful planning - just like a great meal or a long-ago date; (3) Sexual fantasy is ok; and (4) imaginary or real third parties add spice to relationships - a little jealousy is a good thing, and don't take your partner for granted.

OK. That's the book. If you want to read a lot of her chatty case studies, or hear her repeat herself over and over again, buy the book. The writer is in dire need of an editor. But then again, if she eliminated the repetition, the book could be reduced to one page, or even one paragraph, and there is no money in that kind of efficiency!
230 von 279 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
1.0 von 5 Sternen How to screw up your sex life 3. August 2010
Von Karen Ziminski - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Taschenbuch|Verifizierter Kauf
NY psychologist writes book on sex to gain attention for herself and her practice. No quantitative scientific research. Consists of some quotes from some books she's read, plus some anecdotes drawn from people she's talked to, plus a lot of speculation. Her favorite word seems to be "perhaps," as in "perhaps we are convinced that lustfulness conflicts with maternal duty."

There is nothing in this book that would really help a married couple whose sex life has faded. She suggests role play, like pretending the wife is a prostitute. Yawn. She also suggests pornography. In his book "In the Shadows of the Net," Patrick Carnes, with 25 years of experience in the field, warns that many people get so hooked on porn that they lose interest in their mates. Fantasy and porn not exciting enough? Perel suggests the discrete affair, open marriage, swingers clubs. No mention of the risk of herpes, hepatitis, AIDS, etc. And for every anecdote that she has on extra-marital sex helping a marriage, I dare say I have heard ten about its having the opposite effect. Not that I have any actual numbers, but then I'm not writing a book. Dr. Perel doesn't back up her pronouncements with any hard data.

On 9-24-10 at the annual conference of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, plenary speaker John Gottman, mentioning Esther Perel by name, said that her idea that emotional distance makes for better marital sex is contradictory to his findings. Now at the University of Washington, he has been doing research with married couples since 1980.

On 5-20-11 at the annual conference of the Massachusetts Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, I asked Terry Real whether too much intimacy could be boring, whether it was important to keep mystery in a marriage. He recognized that as Perel's idea and said that while he likes her as a person, he totally disagrees with that idea. He says intimacy is the great turn on, the pearl of great price.

Lori Brotto, a psychologist in Canada, is doing serious research on lack of desire, and is getting good results with treatments based on mindfulness, one thing in the moment. She has published articles, but no book yet.
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