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Blechner, M.J. (1998). Sexuality in the age of AIDS. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 79:1007-1008.

(1998). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 79:1007-1008

Sexuality in the age of AIDS

Mark J. Blechner

Dear Sir,

It was painful to read the account of the panel on ‘Sexuality in the age of AIDS’ (Otero & Escardó, 1998). The panel was evidence of multiple scotomata among the participating psychoanalysts. There was ignorance of the psychoanalytic literature on AIDS and HIV (e.g. Isay, 1989; Aronson, 1996; Blechner, 1993a, 1997), none of which was mentioned. The panel participants tended to ascribe the illness to the other, the ‘not-me’ and to describe the purported psychopathology of those with the illness. When AIDS first appeared, when there was a lack of knowledge and much inchoate fear, this pattern of disavowal was common, but it is not acceptable among professionals fifteen years into the epidemic. As further evidence of disavowal and denial, the panel made no mention of psychoanalysts who have died of AIDS and of the many relatives and friends of psychoanalysts who have been lost to the illness. In addition, the obsessive focus on homosexuals at this panel was misguided. Internationally, more cases of HIV infection are spread through heterosexual than homosexual contact, and in the United States, heterosexual women are the group with the fastest rise in the rate of HIV infection (HIV Center, 1991).

While the problem of poor relations between gay men and lesbians with psychoanalysis was mentioned, there seemed to be little self-awareness of the homophobia and anti-homosexual hatred among the participants in the panel. Rather than focus on the purported psychotic aspects of homosexuals, as did some of the panel members, the next Congress of the International Psychoanalytical Association ought to have a panel that addresses the problem of bigotry among psychoanalysts—the destructive and often delusional fear and hatred of gay men and lesbians.

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