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Malone, K.R. (1997). Working Through the Question of the Phallus to the Other Side: Commentary on Bracha Lichtenberg-Ettinger's Paper. Psychoanal. Dial., 7(3):407-422.

(1997). Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 7(3):407-422

Working Through the Question of the Phallus to the Other Side: Commentary on Bracha Lichtenberg-Ettinger's Paper Related Papers

Kareen Ror Malone, Ph.D.

The work of Bracha Lichtenberg-Ettinger implicates psychoanalysis as a political, clinical, and aesthetic project and draws theoretically from each of these domains. As part of her challenge to psychoanalysis, Lichtenberg-Ettinger questions the Lacanian and Freudian preoccupation with the phallus. She queries the degree to which the psychical amplification of the phallus remains blindly tied to the penis and a masculine incarnation. She supplements this phallogocentric positioning with the concept of a matrixial subjectivity grounded in the intrauterine coexistence of mother and child. The womb and its possibilities indicate another relationship between the I and the non-I based on forms of relating that do not revolve around the dichotomy of exclusion and merger. As part of her critique of phallogocentrism, the author repudiates the absoluteness of a phallic presence versus castrated absence and the binaries in conceptualization to which this configuration leads.

The following commentary is deeply in sympathy with this project and appreciates the great reach of Lichtenberg-Ettinger project. Her project requires great care, however, as it tries to redefine formations of subjectivity through the Real of bodily difference. Further, it is not fully clear how matrixial subjectivity is situated with respect to certain questions raised by the phallus. More specifically, if the phallus represents a moment that structures one's relationship to speaking and to repression, a clearer articulation of the place of these moments in a matrixial subjectivity might create a more productive dialogue with the most innovative aspects of Lacanian psychoanalysis.

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