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O'Carroll, L. (2000). Freud and Klein on male homosexuality. Free Associations, 7(4):62-75.

(2000). Free Associations, 7(4):62-75

Freud and Klein on male homosexuality

Larry O'Carroll

The Present Article Explicates the assumptions Freud and Klein bring to their understanding of (male) homosexuality. Their work is discussed for the reason that it exemplifies the tension in psychoanalysis which exists on the psycho-developmental status of same-sex love.

O'Connor and Ryan (1993) and Lewes (1989) argue that a certain heterosexism informs psychoanalytic theory. Whilst this is certainly true of Klein, the matter is, we submit, far more complex with Freud. This is not to say that he accords parity of esteem to (male) homosexuality but to advise that, because his work does not form a seamless whole, it possesses conceptions required to question the notion that homosexuality is either ‘an arrest in development(Freud, 1935) or a pathologically defensive structure erected against primitive hatred of parental intercourse (Klein, 1928, 1932). Freud's work, then, is poorly understood when it is charged with a scandalous homophobia.

Why is it that homosexuality is a problem for Freud and Klein in a way heterosexuality is not? Perhaps it delimits a margin of the (un)acceptable which, if breached, would threaten their ways of making sense. There is surely something in that. As it is, we may ask: Have such ways anything to do with the necessity psychoanalysis faces in tying its ontogenetic tales to ‘cure’ simultaneously as it declares no master of knowledge exists? ‘The analyst, says Lacan, is the one supposed to know, but it is a false belief’. So writes Phillips (1993) of Lacan's view of the patient's desire. There is idolatry here, something the ‘patient’ needs forsake.

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