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Corbett, K. (2001). Nontraditional Family Romance. Psychoanal Q., 70(3):599-624.

(2001). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 70(3):599-624

Nontraditional Family Romance

Ken Corbett, Ph.D.

Family stories lie at the heart of psychoanalytic developmental theory and psychoanalytic clinical technique, but whose family? Increasingly, lesbian and gay families, multiparent families, and single-parent families are relying on modern reproductive technologies to form families. The contemplation of these nontraditional families and the vicissitudes of contemporary reproduction lead to an unknowing of what families are, including the ways in which psychoanalysts configure the family within developmental theory.

This article focuses on the stories that families tell in order to account for their formation—stories that include narratives about parental union, parental sexuality, and conception. The author addresses three constructs that inform family stories and that require rethinking in light of the category crises posed by and for the nontraditional family: (1) normative logic, (2) family reverie and the construction of a family romance, and (3) the primal scene. These constructs are examined in tandem with detailed clinical material taken from the psychotherapy of a seven-year-old boy and his two mothers.

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