Sexual Difference: Masculinity and Psychoanalysis

Sexual Difference: Masculinity and Psychoanalysis

Sexual Difference: Masculinity and Psychoanalysis

Sexual Difference: Masculinity and Psychoanalysis

Synopsis

Sexual Difference is a critical exploration of psychoanalytic theories of sexual difference.In particular it explores the way in which masculinity is expressed in theory and practice.Developing from the unsettling impact of these issues on the author's own professional practice, Stephen Frosh examines how the very language and structure of psychoanalysis are loaded with assumptions about gender.Employing both Kleinian and Lacanian theoretical perspectives this book critically examines these approacheds to sexial difference.In addition, it discusses the application of these issues in the practice of treating sexual violence and in cases of child secual abuse.Sexual Difference will be of value to all trainees and professionals in psychotherapy, psychoanalysis, psychology and social work, as well as all those with an interest in `masculinity', `femininity' and their effects.

Excerpt

Sexual difference is a subject which will not go away. the questions it poses are always present, hovering over and in us-how are we the same as one another and how are we different? in what ways are we characteristic of our sex and to what extent can we transgress its boundaries? How can we relate constructively to the problematic categories 'masculine' and 'feminine'? These are categories that seem to determine the perspectives we use to understand ourselves and others, yet they are also lacking in concreteness, making them the source of sweeping generalisations which then always carry profound exceptions. a common formulation of this kind might read, 'Men are…Women are…But this particular man or woman is more like this, not like that, has both sides within.' What can we say or do that might challenge the received wisdom of what is appropriate to being masculine or feminine, whilst also recognising the way people's experiences of themselves are bound up with deeply felt but often implicit notions of what their gender should and does mean?

I have come to writing about sexual difference a long way round, through the route of academic study and clinical psychological practice. in many respects, I have tried to avoid it, as it is so complicated and embarrassing when compared with the realities of my everyday life as a man. But if I am going to write at all, I have to do something with it, going further than my previous dips into the water of psychoanalytic feminism and psychological gender theory (Frosh, 1987a, 1989). Gradually, I have come to see the ubiquity and unavoidability of the questions surrounding sexual difference in my own everyday experience, in my work, and in writing. There seems never to be a moment at which it disappears, there is nothing that can call itself 'gender neutral'; always there is a position or set of experiences which is 'same as mine' and another which is 'other' with which I have to deal, a subject which will not go away.

In 1988, I published, jointly with a female psychiatrist, a book on child sexual abuse (Glaser and Frosh, 1988). For me, the experience of work with sexually abused children was a deeply troubling watershed in my professional life. I was working as a psychologist with children and

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