Julia Kristeva refracts the impulse to hate (and our attempts to subvert, sublimate, and otherwise process it) through psychoanalysis and text, exploring worlds, women, religion, portraits, and the act of writing. Her inquiry spans themes, topics, and figures central to her writing, and her paths of discovery advance the theoretical innovations that are so characteristic of her thought. Kristeva rearticulates and extends her analysis of language, abjection, idealization, female sexuality, love, and forgiveness. She examines the "maladies of the soul," utilizing examples from her practice and the ailments of her patients, such as fatigue, irritability, and general malaise. She sources the Bible and texts by Marguerite Duras, St. Teresa of Avila, Roland Barthes, Simone de Beauvoir, and Georgia O'Keefe. Balancing political calamity and individual pathology, she addresses internal and external catastrophes and global and personal injuries, confronting the nature of depression, obliviousness, fear, and the agony of being and nothingness.
Throughout Kristeva develops the notion that psychoanalysis is the key to serenity, with its processes of turning back, looking back, investigating the self, and refashioning psychical damage into something useful and beautiful. Constant questioning, Kristeva contends, is essential to achieving the coming to terms we all seek at the core of forgiveness.