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Hook, D. (2018). Transgender Psychoanalysis: A Lacanian Perspective on Sexual Difference By Patricia Gherovici. Routledge, 198pp., $52.95, 2017. DIVISION/Rev., 18:14-15.

(2018). DIVISION/Review, 18:14-15

Transgender Psychoanalysis: A Lacanian Perspective on Sexual Difference By Patricia Gherovici. Routledge, 198pp., $52.95, 2017

Review by:
Derek Hook

It is unfortunate that much of institutionalized clinical psychoanalysis, particularly perhaps in the more medicalized US context, has lent itself to a pathologization of “non-normative” or so-called “deviant” sexualities. Patricia Gherovici's distinctive political and Lacanian engagement with what is perhaps the most urgent debate in psychoanalysis today-that of sex/gender change, as brought to the fore by the trans movement-does not shy away from this lamentable history. It is something of an irony that a mode of clinical and theoretical practice developed on the basis of Freud's texts (inclusive of his Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality, 1905/1953) should be either somewhat detached from, or worse yet, pathologizing of, “minority” sexualities. As Gherovici shows, Freud himself was far keener to collaborate with experts of sexology in the development of psychoanalysis than were many of his colleagues, and he certainly demurred from the homophobia that many later psychoanalytic institutions sadly came to exemplify.

The polymorphous perversity that Freud posits as underlying sexuality itself, along with his suggestion, echoed and amplified by Lacan, that drive is by definition skewed, deviant, “non-normative” (even, might we say: “queer”), should mean that the concept of sexual abnormality has no place in psychoanalysis. We could take this argument further: in having gravitated towards the conservative, particularly with respect to current debates on trans identity, psychoanalysis has-in effect-ceased to be psychoanalysis at all, at least in the sense of being a discipline attuned to the non-normative and unconscious dimensions of sexuality.

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