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Parsons, M. (2000). Sexuality And Perversion A Hundred Years On: Discovering What Freud Discovered. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 81(1):37-49.

(2000). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 81(1):37-49

Sexuality And Perversion A Hundred Years On: Discovering What Freud Discovered

Michael Parsons

The author considers how Freud's original formulation of the sexual drive may be understood in contemporary terms. Parallels between psychoanalysis, art history and the social and natural sciences underline the idea of sexuality as a construct that can be revisited. The nature of sexuality depends on how its irreducible biological basis is interpreted by a particular society at a particular time. The importance of revisiting is illustrated by Klein's concept of a position, which revisits the theoretical construct of a developmental stage. Freud's own construction of sexuality is based on his view of drive as comprising source, aim and object. Freud, in the Darwinian climate of his time, considered the object in terms of whether it served the fulfilment of the aim, but his paradigm can today be understood more broadly than Freud himself was able to. A discussion of perversion shows that psychoanalysis has moved from seeing it as defensive against instinctual derivatives to seeing it as defensive against object-relatedness. This reflects a shift in the analytic conceptualisation of sexuality in general. Freud's paradigm for the sexual drive can be reconceived in terms of source, aim and quality of relatedness to object. Such a view of sexuality also has implications for gender issues, for the comparison of male and female perversion, and for the relation between sexuality and love.

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