Academic journal article Contemporary Psychoanalytic Studies

Five: Releases and Returns: Sex and the (Provincial) City

Academic journal article Contemporary Psychoanalytic Studies

Five: Releases and Returns: Sex and the (Provincial) City

Article excerpt

The last sessions have left me concerned about the depth of the emotional problems that are emerging. I consult with a local colleague, a psychologist, before seeing the city again. Her impressions match mine, and she adds a strongly voiced opinion that repression of sexuality is what drives the city psyche. The previous sessions have made it clear that the city must reconnect with her sexual self; and I decide to explore this more, wondering if here, in the realm of everyday sexuality, the city will find an escape from such rampant repression. She certainly has contact with ideas very other to traditional norms; might sexuality and the means for managing it provide a fertile area in which to uncover signs of revolt? When the city returns to my office, I hurry through the usual chatter about the chilly weather and immediately begin the session. I begin by asking her how she manages the pressures to be ideal and what strategies she might use to relieve some of these tensions. I am surprised and hopeful when she pulls out multiple texts. We seem to have moved out of the silence.

We are fast approaching the necessary crisis. We will talk about one more series of texts before I offer the city my own displacements, transferences, and interpretations to consider. Previous sessions have repeatedly drawn attention to the city's tendency to domesticate, silence, purify, and repress. The last session, however, showed the city reaching the limits of her ability to contain all of this tension and signaled that the necessary route back to psychic health should take her through the feminine body. Today, I finally broach the topic of sexuality. Psychoanalysis, of course, is based on the notion that sexuality matters and is intimately connected to thinking and participation in the symbolic order. Whether repressed or expressed, understandings about the self as a sexual being, shaped in early childhood experiences, affect the adult life that results. I therefore ask how this modern city negotiates her traditional upbringing in the face of change. As I discuss the city's sexually themed texts for signs of how this negotiation plays out (and for what I hope will be signs of transgression and release), I notice that she has turned to writing in foreign languages. I wonder how language, place, and sexuality will come together here.

During this phase of work I undertook analytic supervision with a female analyst who worked with both men and women ranging from professionals to poor victims of domestic violence to upper-class youth at a conservative private school staffed in large part by nuns. When I asked her what she thought the city's most common psychological problems seemed to be, based on her own cross-section of experiences, she thought only a moment before replying that, in her opinion, the city was most affected by a deep fear of sexuality, male and female.26

She attributed this to the prominent role of the Church in people's daily lives, Catholic guilt, and parental and societal pressure on young people, all of which combine to construct sexuality as something to be repressed. If Guanajuato has any desire of her own, she said, it is to maintain the image of herself as virginal, pure, perfect, that is, free of sexuality. This fits everything that has been emerging in the sessions thus far. It also fits my view that the city plays a traditional maternal role for her others, a role inscribed in Catholic discourse that denies the female subject desire (or that would make desire into a transgression). Inarguably, the city's rejection of the naked FIC poster and her making of Don Quijote into a virginal icon reinforce this.

Equally true is the Catholic Church's stronghold in the state of Guanajuato. While 90 percent of the country is still Catholic (AguayoQuezada, 2002, p. 66), in other places the influence of the Church has suffered a generation-long decline related to the Church's inflexible views on birth control, divorce, and homosexuality, on the one hand, and the incursion of many new Christian religions, on the other. …

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