Non-Jungian clinicians may well feel at home with Gordon’s description of her actual clinical work with patients, because it is close to and exemplifies general psychoanalytic method and practice.

However, her vision is rooted in analytical psychology, and this has led her to explore the possible origin, meaning and function of the psychopathological syndrome of masochism in some of her patients. As with Freud, Klein and some other analysts, this search has led Gordon back to the thesis that there exists an original death drive—also interpreted by Erich Neumann, for example, as a ‘wish for a weak ego to dissolve in the self, or by the Kleinian analyst Betty Joseph’s suggestion that masochism may be based on the infant’s belief that the price to be paid for the love of the parents is the surrender of personal separateness and individuality. But, unlike most psychoanalysts, 238her Jungian understanding leads her to link the death drive to themes like ‘death and rebirth’ and the symbolic meanings of death.

Guided by the material from her patients, by a review of the rituals and body postures in the various religions, and by themes discernible in literary works such as D. H. Lawrence’s short story, ‘The Woman Who Rode Away’, she proposes that there is a universal, archetypal drive in humans to surrender and to worship something beyond personal being, and that masochism is the negative, the shadow side of this archetypal drive. She argues that such a pathological or perverted form can be said to exist if the need for pain is self chosen and is an end in itself, instead of just an inescapable part of a larger goal or task.

Gordon also discusses the clinical implications and consequences in analytic work, while pathological masochism predominates, in terms of transference, countertransference, the negative therapeutic reaction, and the ineffectiveness of interpretation.