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Butler, J. (1995). Melancholy Gender—Refused Identification. Psychoanal. Dial., 5(2):165-180.

(1995). Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 5(2):165-180

Melancholy Gender—Refused Identification Related Papers

Judith Butler, Ph.D.

Freud's discussion of melancholy in “Mourning and Melancholia” includes an account of identification as the incorporation of the lost object. This essay first seeks to establish a relation between that incorporative identification and the formation of “the bodily ego.” It then seeks to situate this melancholic condition of the bodily ego in terms of the “loss” of the same-sexed object under prevalent conditions of compulsory heterosexuality. This “loss” might be better understood on the model of foreclosure, suggesting that it is a loss resolved into a melancholic identification and hence central to the formation of same-sex gender identification. This account of the melancholic consequences of a disavowed homosexual attachment is then situated in terms of contemporary conditions of grief over the loss by aids of so many gay men. The suggestion here is that the cultural “unreality” of that “loss” may be attributable to the foreclosed status of homosexual love as that which “never was” and “never was lost.”

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