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Morris, B.A. (2017). We've Always Been Borderline: Understanding Borderline Personality Disorder as the Site of Radical Subjectivity. Free Associations, 18(2):51-64.

(2017). Free Associations, 18(2):51-64

We've Always Been Borderline: Understanding Borderline Personality Disorder as the Site of Radical Subjectivity

Bethany A. Morris


It has been argued that the unconscious is the site for revolutionary potential and that neoliberal subjectivity must be challenged at the level of unconscious desire (Skott-Myhre, 2014). In taking this perspective, a consideration must be given to those subjects which have an unconscious surplus, or an excess that is unable to be captured by late-stage capitalism or neoliberal discourses. French psychoanalyst, Jacques Lacan, offers a conceptualization of the feminine as outside of the phallic Symbolic register, which philosophers Deleuze and Guattari borrow and explore its utility in moving towards a radical subjectivity, which they refer to as becoming-woman. From this perspective, subjugated feminine positions in history can be understood as being ‘dangerous’ in their ability to undermine or overthrow the status quo.

I argue that the 21st century manifestation of this subject is the woman as Borderline, suggesting that biopolitics, psychoanalysis, and medical discourses have captured the feminine in a particular way as to produce this subject. Borderline Personality Disorder and the subjects it refers to, which hence force will be referred to as the Borderline subject, can then be explored for resonances and surpluses that are not quite captured within the diagnostic and scientific paradigm. It can then be argued that this surplus is best understood as the erotic, or eroticism, and can be uncovered across a selection of subjugated women throughout history as being that which disturbs the Symbolic status quo.

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