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The Birth of Pleasure

3.85  ·  Rating Details ·  204 Ratings  ·  35 Reviews
Carol Gilligan, whose classic In a Different Voice revolutionized the study of human psychology, now offers a brilliant, provocative book about love. Why is love so often associated with tragedy, she asks. Why are our experiences of pleasure so often shadowed by loss? And can we change these patterns?

Gilligan observes children at play and adult couples in therapy and disco
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published September 3rd 2002 by Knopf (first published 200)
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Debra Moffitt
Jun 20, 2011 Debra Moffitt rated it it was amazing
Gilligan describes something I've perceived in the dance of male/female relationships -- the emotional disconnect that takes place and the ways they've come about. I will re-read this book. My first impression is that "Pleasure" should actually read "joy" and be related to an inner state, an inner marriage and not the relationship with another. Once the inner marriage between the opposites takes place, this gives birth to joy and contentment. When two people who have done their inner work and re ...more
Mar 15, 2010 Ryna rated it really liked it
I must confess, this is not the kind of book that tops my reading list but after a very memorable meeting with Carol Gilligan herself I couldn't pass the opportunity to get a signed a copy of one of her publications.

The Birth of Pleasure captured my interest because of it's title but inside is a superb side by side analysis of her interviews with children and couples in crisis as well as literary work from the allegorical myth of Cupid and Psyche to Anne Frank's Diary to Proust, Tennessee Willia
i should really be liveblogging this. i just got to an extended (inset) quote of indigo girls lyrics. usually i am probably the best possible audience for something like that but i think the intro of "The Indigo Girls, two women who are among the many contemporary popular women singers..." jarred. apart from getting me to sing galileo to myself, i'm not sure the intended point, because it led without commentary into an extended recap of a dream carol gilligan had about her mother's life choices. ...more
Sep 19, 2008 Emily rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I saw this on the sale book table, looking very pink and whatnot, I thought "What's that dumb girly book going to be?" But when I saw that Carol Gilligan was the author, I had to pick it up. Carol Gilligan wrote In a Different Voice, which I read in my Development Psychology class in college. I haven't been really moved to dip back into psychology of this sort since but Gilligan has quite a lot of really important stuff to say in this book. I find myself wanting to tell people about it qui ...more
May 28, 2008 Bill rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
This is an excellent book on modern culture/psychology/male-female relationships. It takes the Psyche-Cupid myth as its core theme and uses modern psychology, literature, biology, sociology to try to understand why we are often so screwed up in our relationships with ourselves and with others. It has too much in it to cover in a short review, but here are a few memorable pieces:
- Anne Frank's diary has 3 versions, the one she wrote originally in her own voice, a version that she edited after hea
Lynn Vannucci
Jun 12, 2010 Lynn Vannucci rated it it was amazing
"My tongue suddenly flew above me then
Suddenly light and limitless
I turned my eyes toward it
astonished at its ambition
I never intended it to say that much!
But it sang, on and on
I put the diamond in my ear
Closed my eyes
And embraced the arias my tongue sang and sang
Above my head, free, unbound and tireless." Elizabeth Austen
Liyana Silver
Mar 13, 2017 Liyana Silver rated it it was amazing
Sumptuous journey through western mythology and psychology, fully redeeming our joy, pleasure, and embodied knowing as women. A must read.
Mark Darrah
Aug 23, 2015 Mark Darrah rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction
Carol Gilligan has written a fascinating book. Using a multifaceted approach, she examines the origins of dissociative trauma -- that psychological split within ourselves where we can know and not know, feel but not feel -- and its path to the suppression of pleasure and authenticity. Gilligan argues that the foundational myths of Western society are virtually all based on trauma, societal control, and violence. The author takes her readers on a journey through memory, literature, psychological ...more
Jul 25, 2010 Daniel rated it did not like it
Shelves: from-library
Mired amidst a virtual avalanche of incomprehensible feminist bullshit are bad poems, bad song lyrics, a badly re-tooled Oedipus, a soporific recitation of Psyche & Cupid, and (very occasionally) a genuine insight or two.

This book must exist simply to increase the number of books in the world: I can see no other purpose for it. The only possible reason to read such a meandering, faux-intellectual, threadbare bromide is for the sport of hunting down the seemingly accidental point, far too few
May 12, 2015 Marie rated it liked it
Fascinating, thought-provoking, though sometimes it felt a bit circular. I guess it makes sense that a therapist would keep repeating the main themes, to keep them fresh in the reader's (patient’s) mind.

Read at times more like lit crit than I expected - she uses a few particular fictional works as symbols of deeper human problems - Cupid and Psyche in particular, but also Twelfth Night and The English Patient. I liked thinking about psychology in fiction and how to incorporate themes of disassoc
Samara O'Shea
May 12, 2014 Samara O'Shea rated it really liked it
This book is a compelling read largely because of the language. Gilligan has a great turn of phrase. I also enjoyed it because the author discusses her therapy sessions with couples, and I'm studying to be a therapist. Of course, this might not interest everyone.

As for drawing a "new map of love," I felt it missed the mark. She certainly kept up the conversation about love and held her own. Alas, there were no truly new concepts presented.
Sep 15, 2007 Samson rated it really liked it
Carol Gilligan's ability to transition from idea to quote to support was absolutely amazing. This was a near seamless work that absolutely blew my mind. I can't remember half of what she said, but reading it revolutionized my perspectives on relationships and love. What is more important, Love or the Law? Truth or Relationship? Why is love so often a tragedy? A beautiful narrative that I recommend.
Jul 22, 2008 Jenny rated it really liked it
I can't believe I ate the whole thing! But really, a very timely book, considering my other recent reads (Against Love, A Room of One's Own). Gilligan pulls together work and ideas from multiple disciplines very effectively. It makes sense more now than I think it would have at any other time in my life.
I read this for a class with the author entitled Resisting Injustice. While I enjoyed what Gilligan calls her associative writing style and appreciated what she said about children's indoctrination into patriarchy, I didn't get a lot out of the book itself. I would have given it two stars but for the interesting conversation it provoked in class.
Nov 15, 2010 Amy rated it really liked it
Shelves: psychology
so far an intriguing and wonderful read...
Finished the book and was grateful to be exposed to carol gilligan and her thinking about women and their voice. this book takes her thoughts even further as she talks about both men and women's voices in relationship to love and each other. a lovely mix of psychology, poetry, literature, and myth.
Lynn Vannucci
Dec 10, 2006 Lynn Vannucci rated it it was amazing
"My tongue suddenly flew above me then
Suddenly light and limitless
I turned my eyes toward it
astonished at its ambition
I never intended it to say that much!
But it sang, on and on
I put the diamond in my ear
Closed my eyes
And embraced the arias my tongue sang and sang
Above my head, free, unbound and tireless." Elizabeth Austen
Aug 13, 2008 Jenna rated it really liked it
I love her use of mythology, fiction stories, non-fiction writings, and psychology studies (from the past and present). Instead of writing a text book, she uses these works to tell a story that reveals what the birth of pleasure can be.
It changed the way I look at the world.
Gilligan has some beautiful theoretical concepts related to the way trauma silences personal voice and agency, and the ways people can reclaim that through re-discovering "pleasure" in being. I'm hoping to apply her ideas to my research project.
May 17, 2013 Mya rated it did not like it
Shelves: xed-abandoned, z-2005
Written in 2005:
"Not sure whose review put this book on my list, but it was sooo bad I didn't make it past the first chapter (and it was a struggle to get that far). Lots of layered and loaded words which are never defined and an inability to write a clear sentence, let alone lay out a thesis."
Stace ginsburg
Jun 06, 2008 Stace ginsburg rated it really liked it
interesting perspective on love: and how boys & girls are conditioned differently w/ social conditions --but also rooted in such deep mythic themes & elements to 'split' from love. interesting perspective on developmental splitting, trauma, dissociation & love and pleasure.
Nov 14, 2007 Jennifer rated it liked it
Recommends it for: feminine theorists
A study of women's pursuit of love and pleasure via the mythology of Eros and Psyche. I think Anne Carson did it better (and more ruthlessly in terms of details) with Eros the Bittersweet.
Donald Powell
Oct 21, 2014 Donald Powell rated it liked it
Shelves: anthropology
Jan 20, 2010 Stephanie rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
another i couldn't finish.
Daniel Noventa
Aug 09, 2011 Daniel Noventa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was a fun little read. It mapped love with a mythical story of Venus and Cupid. The writer was creative in her incorporation of the story along with her own experiences in counseling sessions.
Nov 22, 2007 Miranda rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
This is one of my favorite authors. I've only written two authors fan letters and she is one of them. I recommend both her book highly.
Jan 30, 2009 Sue rated it it was amazing
"The power of love upsets the order of things." This new look at the psychology of love had me looking at Shakespears and Freud to come to a new understanding.
Apr 12, 2010 April rated it it was amazing
Amazing, beautiful, lyrical book that gives an alternative to the typical tragic love stories of western literature. Very interesting.
Aug 18, 2014 Tessa rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
An illuminating and potentially transformative book for women. (And men too!)
Dec 01, 2008 Katie marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gradschool
yes yes yes yes. a gift from frances, can't wait to get started. only two more weeks until break, yippee!
Aug 14, 2009 I-ki rated it really liked it
An interesting read and articulates concepts in ways that are understandable and resonates.
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