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Barale, F. Ferruta, A. (1997). But Is Paris Really Burning?. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 78:373-378.

(1997). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 78:373-378

But Is Paris Really Burning?

Francesco Barale and Anna Ferruta

... lost in Time, lost in Space and Meaning ...
... I’m going home ...

(The Rocky Horror Picture Show)

Many consider that since Freud's time not only the psychoanalytic conception of sexuality and of its role in mental life has changed (Mitchell, 1988) but also that sexuality itself is in the throes of rapid transformation in western metropolitan cultures (Giddens, 1992).

This transformation, which is often portrayed with some exaggeration as an epochmaking change, is in fact a contradictory phenomenon, which, while having distinct strata dating from different periods—in some cases quite out of phase with superficial changes in customs—has its foundations in the bedrock of ‘human nature’, which can be ‘deconstructed’ only up to a point: after all, a man will never be able to give birth or a woman to fecundate. However, change there is, and it gives rise to widespread turbulence.

This turbulence is perhaps encapsulated in the following extract from an analytic session with a young male patient, F, who always has at least two sexual relationships at a time, either with men and women or with men only. One relationship is of a ‘totalising’ nature, whereas the lateral ones offer a safety net to prevent him from being swallowed up.

P: There are some things I don't tell you, or forget to tell you. I answered an advertisement in a paper that gave a voicemail box for sexual encounters; well, today the guy phoned me and I’m going to see him .

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