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Saketopoulou, A. (2019). The Draw to Overwhelm: Consent, Risk, and the Retranslation of Enigma. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 67(1):133-167.

(2019). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 67(1):133-167

The Draw to Overwhelm: Consent, Risk, and the Retranslation of Enigma Related Papers

Avgi Saketopoulou

The concept of affirmative consent presumes a subject who is fully transparent to herself and who can anticipate the precise effects of her assent. This essay proposes limit consent, a concept that offers us different ways to think about the sexual—and about the analytic encounter. Limit consent involves a more nuanced negotiation of limits and becomes possible when the subject makes herself passible (Lyotard 1988) to an other—a condition that is neither active nor passive. Processes described in depth here suggest that passibility has ties to the rousing of infantile sexuality (Freud) and to the subject's normative perversity (Laplanche). When the psychic economy of the infantile sexual is followed to its apex, a particular kind of state is produced that I call overwhelm—a word that is used here as a noun. Overwhelm is a state of dysregulation that can be confused with, but is not the same as, repetition compulsion. Overwhelm entails risk, and under some circumstances it may open up space toward significant psychic transformations. A detailed clinical example illustrates how overwhelm may make itself known in the clinical encounter, and how it can infiltrate the transference/countertransference. Specific technical suggestions are made regarding analytic work with overwhelm.

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