Psychoanalysis and Queer Theory: as yet an “unrealised promise”?

Worthington, Anne (2013) Psychoanalysis and Queer Theory: as yet an “unrealised promise”? In: Queer Sexualities: Staking Out New Territories in Queer Studies. Critical Issues . Inter-disciplinary Press, Oxford, pp. 127-148. ISBN 9781848881556. [Book Section]


An engagement between psychoanalysis and queer theory would seem to offer a “certain promise”. Through a consideration of the work of queer theorists, psychoanalysts may come to think differently about their clinical practice, sex, sexuality, love, the body, ethics and identity. And the project of queer theory may be advanced by a reading of a psychoanalysis, which gives emphasis to the inherent instability of sexed subjectivity and proposes a theory of sexual difference not based on anatomical difference. Albeit from different standpoints, both disciplines foreground subjectivity, desire and sexuality. Therefore, it would seem fruitful to investigate the intersection of both fields, exploring what might be produced from their engagement.

My paper will elaborate the shared conceptual ground between queer theory and psychoanalysis on the topic of same sex desire between women. I adopt the term “female homosexual” to reflect a conformity that can be seen in the published clinical work of psycho-practitioners who have engaged with queer theory’s challenge to psychoanalysis with both Freud and those psychoanalysts who proposed revisions to his theories in the 1920s and 30s.

Through an analysis of contemporary (post-queer) published clinical case histories, I will examine the impact of the engagement between the queer theory and psychoanalysis on the clinic of female homosexuality, and suggest it may signal the eventual disappointment of that “certain promise”. Thus I address the potentiality of a more rigorous engagement with a psychoanalysis that is informed by Lacan’s “re-reading” of Freud and by which both melancholia and kink can be read as solutions to the problem of being human and by which prevalent notions of masculinity and femininity can be challenged and undermined.

Item Type: Book Section
Research Areas: A. > School of Science and Technology > Psychology > Centre for Psychoanalysis
A. > School of Science and Technology > Psychology
Item ID: 10075
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Depositing User: Anne Worthington
Date Deposited: 20 Mar 2013 16:02
Last Modified: 13 Oct 2016 14:26

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