Tuesday, April 13th, 2004, 8:00 PM

Attachment and Sexuality

presenter: Morris Eagle, Ph.D.
discussant: Ethel Person, M.D.

This presentation will examine some aspects of the relation between attachment and sexuality through the lens of trying to understand the split between love and desire in men. It will be argued that this split is best understood, not in terms of universal incestuous wishes, but in terms of certain aspects of the inherent relation between the attachment and sexual systems. The split between love and desire can be meaningfully restated as a split between attachment and sexuality.

Attachment and sexuality are not only functionally separable systems, but are characterized by certain mutually antagonistic features. It is these antagonistic features that constitute a general basis for the split between love and desire and that present an integrative challenge to the individual. A major factor influencing individual differences in this integrative process is the individual’s attachment pattern, in particular his degree of success in shifting from parental figure to current partner as his attachment figure.

Finally, successful mate selection in both animals and humans will be discussed as a ‘best fit’ compromise between the demands of the attachment and sexual systems. Although an incest taboo is highly relevant in understanding mate selection and the split between love and desire, there is no good evidence to support the universality of incestuous wishes. In effect, the paper presents a way of understanding certain phenomena that have typically been referred to as Oedipal from the vantage point of the relation between the attachment and sexual systems.