Sexuality and Sensuality Across the Divide of Shame

Joseph D. Lichtenberg, MD


This program was presented on Saturday, December 6, 2008 9:00am – 12:30pm National 4-H Conference Center, 7100 Connecticut Ave., Chevy Chase, MD 20815


Historically, sexuality was such a prominent topic within psychoanalytic thinking and writing that sexual drive and psychoanalytic were almost synonymous. Theoretical shifts toward a more relational sensibility, slowly pushed sexuality into the background. Joseph D. LichtenbergÂ’s ground-breaking ideas about sexuality and sensuality offer a revised perspective that provides insight into contemporary psychoanalytic thought and brings sexuality back into the foreground.

Using his model of the sensual-sexual motivational system, Lichtenberg will present ideas that integrate attachment theory, intersubjectivity and sexual development. He will illuminate why he refers to the central role of shame as organizing and distinguishing what becomes experienced as either sensuality or sexuality.

A revised view of the Oedipal period and the important developments that take place in childhood, adolescence and in adult love will also be presented. Lichtenberg will use clinical material to illustrate his ideas. There will be an opportunity for those in attendance to ask questions.

The participants at this conference will be able to:

  • Describe the distinction between sensuality and sexuality
  • Describe the role of shame in the development and organization of the sensual-sexual motivational system
  • Describe the interface between the attachment motivational system and the sensual-sexual motivational system in romantic love

Joseph D. Lichtenberg, MD is a practicing psychoanalyst in Washington, DC. He has written numerous articles about psychoses, psychosomatic illnesses, literature and creativity, psychoanalytic theory, attachment theory and research, and the technique of psychotherapy and psychoanalysis. He is the Editor-in-Chief of Psychoanalytic Inquiry and the Psychoanalytic Inquiry book series. He is Co-Founder and Director Emeritus of the Institute of Contemporary Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis in Washington, DC. He is the author of Psychoanalysis and Infant Research, The Talking Cure, Psychoanalysis and Motivation, and with Frank Lachmann and James Fosshage, The Clinical Exchange, and A Spirit of Inquiry. His most recent books are Craft and Spirit: A Guide for the Exploratory Psychotherapies and Sensuality and Sexuality Across the Divide of Shame.