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Cairo, I. Canestri, J. (2005). Psychosexuality: The uses and abuses of excitement and its objects. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 86(1):167-170.

(2005). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 86(1):167-170

Psychosexuality: The uses and abuses of excitement and its objects

Reported by:
Irene Cairo

Moderator Jorge Canestri

This very timely panel began with Spezzano's paper, entitled ‘Near life experiences: Living off projected excitement’, which is based on his experience with certain types of patients (both female and male) who experience sexual excitement as threatening, and/or threatened within them, and thus attempt to maintain a degree of aliveness of experience by attributing the capacity for excitement to the sexual object. Offering several clinical vignettes, Spezzano challenges the view that would hold some of these patients are perverse. Describing specifically some fetishistic patients, Spezzano argues that for such patients specific items of clothing worn by women symbolize the excitement-evoking power of the woman's anatomical differences. For these patients Spezzano finds interpretations emphasizing the denial of anatomical differences, or collapse of generational differences, were not useful. Instead interpretations that have a transformative effect address how sexual fantasies have a core libidinal excitement, which originates in, is regulated by and flows into the self from the object.

The joint paper by Fonagy and Target was provocatively titled ‘Getting sex back into psychoanalysis’. Rooted in French psychoanalytic ideas, referring most specifically to Green's IPA Plenary ‘Does sex have anything to do with psychoanalysis?’, the authors confirm the reduced presence of sexuality in psychoanalytic papers. They offer a list of possible reasons for this: the connection with problematic drive theory, unconscious resistance arising in analysts themselves, the tendency in all analysts, including the Kleinians, to reduce psychosexuality to the earliest libidinal stages, increased borderline pathology (they believe sexual interpretations are unhelpful to these patients) and the incompatibility of object-relations theory based on mother- infant interaction and drive theory accounts, leading to a tendency to reduce sexual material to underlying relationship-based pathology.

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