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Stein, R. (2005). Why perversion? ‘False love’ and the perverse pact. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 86(3):775-799.

(2005). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 86(3):775-799

Why perversion? ‘False love’ and the perverse pact Language Translation

Ruth Stein

In this paper, the author works with the awareness that perversion is a socially, historically and theologically loaded term, at the same time as it may be the latest frontier in psychoanalysis, both clinically, and in relation to contemporary art and culture which emphasize the perverse. Positioning itself against tendencies to deny the existence of a category of ‘perversion’or, inversely, to abuse it for the power that accrues from the act of diagnosing, she also points to other liabilities in the history of the treatment of this term, such as the narrowing down of perversion to the exclusively sexual domain, or, alternatively, the overextension of it to polymorphously erotic practices that enhance sexual excitement. The paradoxes of perversion and the difficulties of distinguishing the perverse from the non-perverse are addressed. The case is also made that, in order to understand perversion, one must unlink it from the narrow notion of sexual practice and see what is involved on a deeper level—an approach initiated when psychoanalysis turned to perversion as a defense against psychotic anxieties, and began considering the necessary place of perversion in the transference-countertransference. Two features common to both sexual and non-sexual perverse relations are the seductive and bribing aspects of perversion, and its means-ends reversal. Perversion is a haven for the disguising of hatred and suspicion as excitement and (false) love. Displaced child and beating father, entitled child and seductive mother, are both prototypes of psychoanalytic reflection on parents who excite, deceive and corrupt their children and establish perverse pacts with them. The notion of the perverse pact is foregrounded in Alice's analysis, where first the resurrection and then the dismantling of such a pact were effected through various analytic means.

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