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Miller, S. (2016). Disgust, Horror and the Danish Girl: emotional responses to the transgendered. IJP Open, 3:80.

(2016). IJP Open, 3:80

Disgust, Horror and the Danish Girl: emotional responses to the transgendered

Susan Miller

This paper discusses the core structure of two common emotions--disgust and horror--with briefer consideration of a third emotion, fascination. The author posits that all three emotions respond to the idea of gender change. The writer examines the history of ideas about disgust and--building on her own and others' earlier work--formulates a notion of "life uncontained" as critical to elicitation of disgust. When such unpackaged life sits at the threshold of body or being and threatens to attach to or invade a person, it often will be aggressively labeled and rejected in disgust. Horror reflects the experience of one's self or one's critical environment as profoundly altered in a way that raises deep concern about personal safety and security. Unlike disgust, horror is not condemnatory and is not deeply concerned with self-regard, but is concerned, instead, with physical and psychic survival. Both disgust and horror toward the transgendered underscore their "intercategorical" status which challenges the familiar male-female binary, their signification of psychic and bodily damage and their role as representations of lost gender wholeness and gender potential. The author briefly considers fascinated responses to uncharacteristic gender status and relates fascination to disgust

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