Relational Models of Gender and Sexuality




In this course, we will look at the work of European psychoanalyst Jean Laplanche, and the influence his work generated across the contemporary psychoanalytic landscape, to consider a postmodern approach to gender and sexuality. Straying from a close study of Freud’s writings on instincts and drives, Laplanche explicates a model of enigmatic seduction, unconscious transmission of messages, translation, and failures in translation to study the construction, rooted in the relational parent-infant matrix, of sex, gender, and sexuality. Following this, we will consider the difference between the norm and ubiquity of the implantation of parental messages into the child, and the pathology of intromission as excess and trauma. A major part of this course thus screens the psychoanalytic theory on normative as well as “perverse” and subversive sexualities. We will thus engage notions of the normal vs. the abnormal, wonder about what constitutes the sexual body, and consider how these issues manifest in the therapeutic space. While this course will greatly benefit those work with LGBT+ populations, it is also aimed at clinicians who are interested in exploring a psychoanalytic developmental model of gender and sexuality that is not constrained genetic and biologically-driven theory. We will see how Laplanche’s model is also an intersectional model that weaves into the construction of gendered and sexual subjectivity aspects of race, class, and culture. Thus, social constructions, inscriptions, attachment and the Other’s otherness are what make sexuality happen. To end, we will look at eroticism in the clinical space, paying particular attention to how our own Sexual unconscious may be implicated in the construction of certain transference-countertransference matrices.


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