Born in Belgium; married Jack Saul (a psychotherapist), c. 1985; children: two sons. Education: Hebrew University of Jerusalem, B.A. (educational psychology), B.A. (French language and literature), both 1979; Lesley College, M.A., 1982.
Licensed marriage and family therapist, trainer, and consultant. Ministry of Education, Jerusalem, Israel, supervisor of group facility, 1977-78; Israel Museum Youth Wing, Children's Theater, Jerusalem, Israel, performer, teacher, and writer, 1979-81; Consultant to Israeli agencies, Jerusalem, Israel. Trainer in group dynamics, cross-cultural communications, and urban renewal, 1980-81; Crosswalk Theater, Children's Museum, Boston, MA. Coleader of family theatre project, 1982; Massachusetts Mental Health Center, Boston. Staff clinician and expressive therapist, 1982-83; Center on Ethnicity, Behavior and Communication, New York, NY, project director and training consultant, 1983-89; private psychotherapy practice, New York, NY. 1984—; 92nd Street Y, New York, NY, faculty member and supervisor, 1984—; Jewish Board of Family and Children's Services, New York, NY, training consultant and group facilitator, 1985-90; Shorefront Y, Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, NY, consultant, 1985-87; Lowell Institute, New York, NY, family therapist and supervisor, 1987-88; New York University Medical Center, New York, NY, clinical instructor, 1990—; Norwegian Institute for the Expressive Arts Therapies, Oslo, Norway, faculty member, 1991—; ITAP International, Princeton, NJ, international consultant, 1992-96; Swedish Institute for the Expressive Arts Therapies, Stockholm, Sweden, faculty member, 1994-97; Open Society Institute, New York, NY, faculty member, 1997-98; Minuchin Center for the Family, New York, NY, guest faculty member, 1997—; International Trauma Studies Program affiliated with Columbia University, New York, NY, faculty member, 2000—; Fisher-Bernstein Institute for Leadership Development, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA, senior fellow, 2002-04. Also coproducer and director of Minority on Minority: Blacks and Jews, New York, NY, 1986; host of Downtown Salon group forum, New York, NY. Has appeared on numerous television and radio shows.
American Family Therapy Academy, Society for Sex Therapy and Research.
Mating in Captivity: Reconciling the Erotic and the Domestic, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2006.
Contributor to anthologies and books, including Couples on the Fault Line, edited by P. Papp, Guilford Press (New York, NY), 1999, and Best Erotic Writings 2004; contributor to periodicals, including the Self, Utne Reader, Psychotherapy Networker, and Tikkun.
In her book Mating in Captivity: Reconciling the Erotic and the Domestic, psychotherapist and marriage counselor Esther Perel expands on an article she wrote about "erotic intelligence" to discuss waning eroticism and sexual desire within marriage. According to the author, more and more couples look to fulfill all of the emotional needs within their marriages, relying less on outside social institutions such as the church and community. "We still want what we used to have: security, respectability, reproduction, social status, companionship," Perel told Craig Morgan Teicher in an interview in Publishers Weekly. "And now we want confidants, best friends and passionate lovers to boot." Using case studies that involve both gay and heterosexual couples, the author discusses how to keep the erotic sparks between companions despite the fact that habit and certainty can often diminish desire. The author also explores issues such as how our cultural propensity for equality, candor, and togetherness can actually be a hindrance to erotic desire both for women and men. As a result, Perel proposes that political incorrectness is a basic component of sexual desire, which, according to the author, often thrives on power plays and couples keeping a certain amount of emotional space between themselves. Referring to the book as "nicely accessible," a Publishers Weekly contributor went on to write that the author "sanctions fantasy and play and offers the estranged modern couple a unique richness of experience."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Atlantic Monthly, December, 2006, Cristina Nehring, "Of Sex and Marriage: Stop It, You're Killing My Libido," p. 124.
Maclean's, October 23, 2006, "‘Everyone Who Works with Couples Knows It's Just as Often the Man Who Witholds Sex, or Isn't Interested.’ Author and Therapist Esther Perel Talks to Kate Fillion about Desire, Separateness, and How Intimacy Can Kill Eroticism," p. 20.
New Yorker, July 24, 2006, Lauren Collins, "Dr. Esther," p. 25.
Publishers Weekly, June 26, 2006, review of Mating in Captivity: Reconciling the Erotic and the Domestic, p. 42; July 31, 2006, Craig Morgan Teicher, "PW Talks with Esther Perel: Hot Monogamy," p. 64.
Vogue, September, 2006, Rebecca Johnson, "Rules of Attraction; What Does Therapist Esther Perel Prescribe for Couples with a Sagging Sex Life," p. 590.
Esther Perel Home Page,http://www.estherperel.com (July 15, 2007).
International Trauma Studies Program,http://itspnyc.org/ (July 15, 2007), profile of author.