IMAGES OF DESIRE: Finding Your Natural Sensual Self in Today's Image-Filled Society

Jaqueline Sussman, Author
Jaqueline Sussman, Author . Forge $23.95 (288p) ISBN 978-0-312-86911-3
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To erase the effects of childhood socialization, religious taboos, unattainable media images and other influences on adult sexuality that Sussman feels are repressive and constraining, she offers 40 exercises involving "eidetic imaging." These visualization techniques can also be used, she claims, to improve relationships. Though some of the exercises are potentially more helpful than others, each is presented as a key cure for a specific psychological or relationship problem. Contrary to Sussman's assertions, while visualization techniques are now commonly used, most experts view them as a tool, not a panacea, for recovery and self-improvement. Writing in 1970s pop psychology jargon (rife with words like "hangups," "uptight" and "baggage"), Sussman employs gender-based generalizations that are equally clichéd. She claims, for instance, that the physical symptoms of menopause (hot flashes, mood swings, insomnia, etc.) are caused solely by women's emotional resistance to aging. She also recommends pulling "the divine veil of mercy" over extramarital affairs (meaning that readers shouldn't tell their spouse about them)—failing to mention STDs and other possible complications. Just as dubiously, she prescribes "mercy sex" with a spouse when the passion in the marriage is gone, as an antidote to the relationship's problems. Though some of Sussman's visualizing techniques may be helpful, they are accompanied by what many readers may find to be questionable advice. (May)

Forecast:Advertising in Psychology Today may help sell a few books, but Sussman's unlikely to win a wide following for this flawed effort.

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