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Blum, A. Pfetzing, V. (1997). Assaults to the Self: The Trauma of Growing Up Gay. Gender and Psychoanalysis, 2(4):427-442.

(1997). Gender and Psychoanalysis, 2(4):427-442

Assaults to the Self: The Trauma of Growing Up Gay

Alan Blum, Ph.D. and Van Pfetzing, Ph.D.

Moving away from the historically dominant psychoanalytic position of homosexuality as psychopathological, and informed by the burgeoning field of gay studies, the authors propose a new direction. Specifically, what can psychoanalysis illuminate about growing up gay in a homophobic society, and the effects, internalizations of this, on the child that remain with him (her) as a gay adult? For the purposes of this study, the development of the boy, who will later become a gay man, is the primary focus. Relying on concepts originally introduced by Freud in “On the Psychical Mechanism of Hysterical Phenomena: Preliminary Communication(1893), we suggest that the gay man as a child is forced to manage, on his own, at a young age, a highly complex and enormously difficult situation, that meet all the criteria set out by Freud as traumatic. A dissociation results, with potent ramifications for the gay adolescent and gay man. A more contemporary discussion of the concepts of trauma and dissociation (Davies, 1996a, b) is brought in to broaden the discussion. A case example illustrating these ideas is presented.

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