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Worthington, A. (2013). Perversion: A Lacanian Psychoanalytic Approach to the Subject by Stephanie Swales. Published by Routledge, New York and London, 2012; 264 pp; £26.99 paperback.. Brit. J. Psychother., 29(3):413-415.

(2013). British Journal of Psychotherapy, 29(3):413-415

Perversion: A Lacanian Psychoanalytic Approach to the Subject by Stephanie Swales. Published by Routledge, New York and London, 2012; 264 pp; £26.99 paperback.

Review by:
Anne Worthington

Perversion is a central constituent of Freud's work. If we took him at his word, perversion would need no explanation because, for Freud, the sexual drive is neither unified nor aimed at genital copulation and reproduction (Freud, 1905, p. 191). Polymorphous perversity is the root of sex and sexuality. As oft repeated in the Three Essays, it is ‘normality’ that is in need of psychoanalytic investigation. Nevertheless, its insistence into some adults' lives means that perversion - whether defined as a practice, a criminal act, a clinical category, a pathology, or an expression of human suffering - has been subject to enquiry from psychoanalysts, psychotherapists, criminologists, philosophers, queer theorists and cultural critics, amongst others. Swales's timely publication will be of interest to these researchers, but also to all who have questions about the current popular preoccupation with paedophilia. And despite the speciality and particularity suggested by the title, Swales provides a welcome accessible introduction to Lacan's teachings and so will appeal to those less familiar with his approach to clinical work. Nevertheless, her close reading of what Lacan said about perversion, with an emphasis on his later work (1964-81), along with her two comprehensive clinical case histories that illustrate differential diagnosis - perversion and neurosis - makes this book much more than an introductory text.

Perversion is one of Lacan's three ontological diagnostic structures that describe how the subject resolves the difficulties of being human. How do we understand, make meaning - what is our relation to knowledge? How do we enjoy or, to put it another way, how is the body's libido anchored? (Leader, 2011, pp. 66-7).

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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