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Intimacy as a threat to the self
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology.
2008 (English)Conference paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

In this paper I will discuss what could be understood as a dark side of intimacy. The theoretical understandings of intimacy often refer to experiences that are positive for the persons experiencing it. In social theories of intimacy, as found in Bauman (2003), Giddens (1992) and Beck & Beck-Gernsheim (1990), intimacy is understood as a way of relating to others including a mutual disclosure of oneself. In such a disclosing situation the persons involved experience themselves as being equal and honest, of giving and receiving, and as being close. While being intimate, the persons become more than merely themselves, in a sense they become one, expanding their singular selves into a joint union of we-ness.


Intimacy understood as “including others in ones sense of self” (Aron, 2003) intimacy implies a (positive) experience of letting someone else be a part of ones sense of self. But what happens to the sense of self, when including someone else, and simultaneously letting the other include me in their sense of self? This is the question discussed in this paper. A possibly dark side of intimacy can be understood as a sense (or a fear) of loosing oneself when being “swallowed” by someone or something bigger than oneself, as Solheim (2001) suggest in her text “intimacy and its discontents”. The crucial border between self and other, and the negative sense of we-ness will be discussed, as well as questions of reluctance of being more than oneself (I am I). In this discussion it will be impossible not to touch upon the question of to what extent it is even possible to include others in our selves, and if there is a possible distinction between the self and the sense of self.

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URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-121568OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-121568DiVA: diva2:305752
The Second Global Conference on Persons, Intimacy and Love, Salzburg, March 2008
Available from: 2010-03-25 Created: 2010-03-25 Last updated: 2010-12-27Bibliographically approved

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