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Clinical Encounters in Sexuality: Psychoanalytic Practice and Queer Theory

eds. Noreen Giffney and Eve Watson

Published onNov 08, 2021
Clinical Encounters in Sexuality: Psychoanalytic Practice and Queer Theory
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Clinical Encounters in Sexuality: Psychoanalytic Practice and Queer Theory

Edited by Noreen Giffney and Eve Watson

  • ISBN: 978-0-9985318-5-4

  • Paperback, 5×8 in., B/W, 494pp.

  • Publication date: March 7, 2017

  • Price: $27

  • BISAC: PSY026000, SOC064000

  • Thema: JBSJ, JMAF

  • Categories: Queer Studies, Psychoanalysis

In this terrific book, the psychoanalysts and the queer theorists—who are sometimes the same person, but usually not—are less in “conversation” about sexuality than they are pondering whether they have the same desires for sexuality. Is it perverse enough, is it dirty enough, is it ecstatic enough? Is it available to be “used” to cure as well as to make shattering bearable; to imagine as well as to capture truth? There is a lot of talking across each other in this book—sexual difference takes shape so many ways, as does the relation between structures and norms. But if interdisciplinarity is rarely achieved, there is also a lot of generous listening and imagining on both sides, about what it would be like to want cure and care where the object sexuality and its subject are only ever provisionally stable. It’s thrilling and frustrating to read this, and I am so glad I did. It will be great for teaching.

~ Lauren Berlant, University of Chicago

Clinical Encounters in Sexuality makes an intervention into the fields of clinical psychoanalysis and sexuality studies, in an effort to think about a range of issues relating to sexuality from a clinical psychoanalytic perspective. This book concentrates on a number of concepts, namely identity, desire, pleasure, perversion, ethics and discourse. The editors, Noreen Giffney and Eve Watson, have chosen queer theory, a sub-field of sexuality studies, as an interlocutor for the clinical contributors, because it is at the forefront of theoretical considerations of sexuality, as well as being both reliant upon and suspicious of psychoanalysis as a clinical practice and discourse. The book brings together a number of psychoanalytic schools of thought and clinical approaches, which are sometimes at odds with one another and thus tend not to engage in dialogue about divisive theoretical concepts and matters of clinical technique. Traditions represented here include: Freudian, Kleinian, Independent, Lacanian, Jungian, and Relational. The volume also stages, for the first time, a sustained clinical psychoanalytic engagement with queer theory. By virtue of its editorial design, this book aims to foster a self-reflective attitude in clinical readers about sexuality which historically has tended toward reification. The central questions we present to readers to think about are:

  1. What are the discourses of sexuality underpinning psychoanalysis, and how do they impact on clinical practice?

  2. In what ways does sexuality get played out for, and between, the psychoanalytic practitioner and the patient?

  3. How do social, cultural and historical attitudes towards sexuality impact on the transference and countertransference, consciously and unconsciously?

  4. Why is sexuality so prone to reification?

Divided into three sections, Clinical Encounters in Sexuality begins with six chapters on important themes in queer theory: identity, desire, perversion, pleasure, discourse and ethics. Section two includes fourteen responses to the chapters in section one by practising psychoanalysts and psychoanalytic psychotherapists from a number of traditions. They work with adults and/or children and adolescents. Section three features seven short commentaries on the nature of the encounters enacted by the book, by leading thinkers whose own clinical practice and/or theoretical work engages directly with both discourses: psychoanalytic and queer. The book is edited by two psychoanalytic practitioners — one Kleinian, one Freudian-Lacanian — who also have research expertise in sexuality studies. All pieces are new and have been commissioned.

This great collection of essays fills an important gap in the often contested relationship between psychoanalysis and queer theory. Clinical cases presented here illustrate how people struggle with questions about their sexual identity and how troubles related to desire, drive and jouissance attest that there is something inherently queer in human sexuality as such. For the first time we have a volume which opens a dialogue between different psychoanalytic schools and its perceptions of sexual identity. This book is essential reading for anyone who is dealing with the riddle of sexual difference. And who isn’t!” 

~ Renata Salecl, professor of psychology and psychoanalysis at Birkbeck, University of London, and senior researcher in criminology at the Faculty of Law in Ljubljana, Slovenia.

Noreen Giffney works as a psychoanalytic psychotherapist in Dublin, Ireland. She also provides supervision to clinical practitioners conducting research in the fields of psychoanalysis and psychotherapy. She is the convener of Psychoanalysis +, an interdisciplinary initiative that brings together clinical, academic and artistic approaches to, and applications of, psychoanalysis.

Eve Watson works in Dublin as a psychoanalytic practitioner, clinical supervisor and academic. She is involved in teaching and training in psychoanalysis, psychotherapy and teacher education. She writes on psychoanalysis, sexuality studies, critical psychology, poetics, film and critical theory.

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