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Golden Condom    by Jeanne Safer order for
Golden Condom
by Jeanne Safer
Order:  USA  Can
Picador, 2016 (2016)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Carrol Wolverton

A Psychoanalytic Memoir with a Suspect Title ...

My husband asked me after reading the title if I was reading pornography. 'No,' I told him. 'It's a memoir written by a psychotherapist.' How unlike him, I thought, who bid his girlfriends a prompt goodbye if he learned of another man. One told him she was returning to her other boyfriend who was coming home from military service, but they would go on their current date that night. 'No, we're not,' he told her. 'Goodbye.'

By contrast, this author took some fifty years to understand and come to terms with a lopsided early love, the namesake of the golden condom. She understands now after many years of therapy, research, and introspection the source of the problem, her parenting. Such is the case with many people. Early influences shape our lives, she tells us.

Along the way, she details historical long conflicts experienced by Freud, Jung, and many others, including Sydney Smith who spoke of the Golden Fantasy a better label.

Included are personal betrayals by friends and colleagues as well as lovers. Why do these occur? My husband dismissed such people. She does not; she analyzes them from the perspective of experience and history. She also ponders why some people cannot love fully, cannot share of themselves, and cannot return love.

She concludes it's sometimes personal flaws or issues, and sometimes it's just plain envy and jealousy. Why would a friend turn on you after many years of friendship? It happens. I would add that it may be someone guarding his or her own job or presumed position who sees you as a threat. Things are not always what they seem or what is stated. The author analyzes such situations through the perspective of analytic history and discusses how therapies have changed over time. She even moved once to stay close to a valued therapist and mentor and had a client once move to stay in therapy with her. This may seem strange from someone with a Freudian background, but it is not per her telling.

It took her until into her thirties to connect with a mutual soul mate who loves her for herself. Many people after being hurt become too guarded to ever fully reach out and often unconsciously reject good prospects for future mates. She did this herself until analyzed awareness and conscious effort changed her behaviors. Sadly, too many people spend their lives alone needlessly. She makes an excellent case for the benefits of a good therapist and, even though being one, benefited from the help from other professionals.

She is to be congratulated for detailing so thoroughly her very personal journey. Therapists are people, also, and I suspect many enmesh themselves in the field to self-study as much as to help others. A deep self-revealing memoir pours out here. Her conclusion is that all love, even failed love, is still valuable experience. We always carry a spark of eternal desire felt for a rejected lover. It's not all bad. Despite the length of time involved, such experiences cement our humanity to one another.

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