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Mitchell, J. (1996). 1 Sexuality and Psychoanalysis: Hysteria. Brit. J. Psychother., 12(4):473-479.

(1996). British Journal of Psychotherapy, 12(4):473-479

BJP Annual Lecture 1995

1 Sexuality and Psychoanalysis: Hysteria

Juliet Mitchell

Perversion and hysteria are two of the main dimensions of sexuality within psychoanalysis. In 1926 in Inhibitions, Symptoms and Anxiety, Freud, foreshadowing the development of object relations orientation in future psychoanalytic work, cautioned against losing sight of the importance of sexuality. Following the First World War and the formulation of a death drive in conflict with a life drive, there was a new emphasis on primal anxiety and on the helplessness of the human infant who is dependent for a long time on another person for the satisfaction of all its vital needs. Freud re-emphasized the sexual dimension of narcissism for the ego struggling with dependence, and stressed that it was not helplessness itself but the protosexual needs of the oral, anal and phallic drives that the human being needed to have satisfied by the other person. Despite this emphasis, sexuality did come to play a diminishing role in the later development of psychoanalytic theory. With one important, if time-limited, exception - the many discussions of female sexuality in the late 1920s to the mid- 1930s - sexuality largely evacuated the centre of the psychoanalytic arena. Recently, Andre Green has asked: ‘Whatever has happened to sexuality in psychoanalysis?’ and made a plea for its return.

Tonight Estela Welldon is going to talk about perversion and I am going to look at hysteria. Perversion and hysteria in Freud's early work were seen as two sides of the same coin, a sort of flip.

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