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Overview of Psychoanalytic History and Theory

November 5, 2018 @ 8:00 pm - 9:15 pm

|Recurring Event (See all)

An event every week that begins at 8:00 pm on Monday, happening 8 times

Adult Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy (APP)
2018-19, 1st Block — Mondays, 8:00-9:15pm
Scot Gibson, MD

View Syllabus

Sexuality and Queer Theory

Lemma, A. (2013). The body one has and the body one is: Understanding the transsexual’s need to be seen. International Journal of Psychoanalysis 94:277-292.

Alessandra Lemma (biography) is a fantastic writer and thinker on gender, sexuality, and psychoanalysis, and this article is no exception. Her extremely thoughtful and sensitive presentation of her transsexual patient’s struggles with embodiment really brings the concept alive. It’s yet another example of how a thoughtful, curious approach to non-normative trends in human experience can illuminate important concepts in all human experience. Here, her work to understand this particular transsexual person’s struggles and vicissitudes with embodiment and with being seen by another can open up the concepts of embodiment and exhibition for all cases. To quote: “The plight of the transsexual exposes in possibly the most extreme manner the developmental challenge we all have to negotiate and to which we all find compromise solutions, namely how to transform the body one has into the body one is, or, to use a Winnicottian (1970) term, how to ‘personalize’ it.”

Corbett, K. (1993). The Mystery of Homosexuality. Psychoanal. Psychol., 10:345-357.

Corbett wrote important, groundbreaking articles on homosexuality during a time when the field was changing from “gay as pathology” to “gay as normal variation.” Academics and activists had been critiquing psychoanalytic theories of sex, gender, and sexuality for decades, but what was different about Corbett and other authors from this period (like Kenneth Lewes, Mark Blechner, Ralph Roughton, Muriel Dimen, Adrienne Harris) is that they critiqued psychoanalytic theory from withinpsychoanalysis, by bringing in new viewpoints, and showing how a better understanding of sex, gender, and sexuality would enrich psychoanalysis as a whole. Corbett here theorizes the intersection of sexuality and gender in male homosexuality as a new type of masculine/paternal identification which must incorporate both active identification with the father and passive longing for the father, as opposed to older theories which postulated a solely passive/feminine/maternal identification and thus left analysts mystified at any signs of masculinity in homosexual men.

Optional Reading

Herzog, D., (2015) What happened to psychoanalysis in the wake of the sexual revolution?, ch. 1 in Sexualities, Contemporary Psychoanalytic Perspectives, eds A. Lemma and P.E. Lynch, pp19-40.

Herzog (biography) does a nice job here of going over some of the history of sexuality within psychoanalysis. Note her description of how psychoanalysts changed their theories to keep from having to acknowledge their own biases and conflicts — if we were putting psychoanalysis itself “on the couch”, we could consider this “defensive” use of theory as a form of analytic resistance.

Chodorow, N.J. (1992). Heterosexuality as a Compromise Formation: Reflections on the Psychoanalytic Theory of Sexual Development. Psychoanalysis and Contemporary Thought, 15:267-304.

This article is an examination of the way in which historical biases against homosexuality and other non-normative sexualities kept many basic concepts in psychoanalysis (such as “heterosexuality”) under-theorized. As Chodorow says in her abstract: “Subjecting our accounts of heterosexuality to scrutiny gives us a greater sense of its contours and of the questions we still need to ask in order to understand heterosexuality as well as we understand other sexualities.”


November 5, 2018
8:00 pm - 9:15 pm


(206) 328-5315


4020 E Madison St, #230
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(206) 328-5315