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O'Connor, N. (2001). Theorizing Lesbian Desires: Challenges to Psychoanalyses: Lesbian Lives: Psychoanalytic Narratives Old and New by Maggie Magee and Diana C. Miller. (Hillsdale NJ: The Analytic Press, 1997, 407 pp.)Sexual Subjects: Lesbians, Gender, and Psychoanalysis by Adria E. Schwartz. (New York: Routledge Press, 1998, 199 pp.). Psychoanal. Dial., 11(1):145-150.

(2001). Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 11(1):145-150

Theorizing Lesbian Desires: Challenges to Psychoanalyses: Lesbian Lives: Psychoanalytic Narratives Old and New by Maggie Magee and Diana C. Miller. (Hillsdale NJ: The Analytic Press, 1997, 407 pp.)Sexual Subjects: Lesbians, Gender, and Psychoanalysis by Adria E. Schwartz. (New York: Routledge Press, 1998, 199 pp.) Related Papers

Review by:
Noreen O'Connor, Ph.D.

Lesbian Lives and Sexual Subjects are creative celebrations of relational psychoanalysis. The authors share the critique that psychoanalysis as a modernist theory does not adequately theorize lesbian desires. Magee and Miller challenge psychoanalytic dichotomies of, for example, conscious-unconscious, active-passive, masculine-feminine, and homosexual-heterosexual. Arguing against psychoanalysis as a search for the etiology of the patient's lesbianism, they emphasize the crucial importance of attending to patients' own descriptions. They are thus faithful to the phenomenological method as well as drawing on deconstructive and genealogical strategies in their challenge to binary closures in theoretical constructions of gender and sexuality. Schwartz, drawing on Butler, provides a postmodernist critique of psychoanalysis, arguing for an increased plurality of perspectives. She presents interesting insights into the notion of generativity and its traditional identification with mothering. Her work is an important challenge to psychoanalysis as a totalizing narrative. However, there is an uneasy tension between her appreciation of postmodern theorists and her appreciation of object relations theorists with their concepts of self and representation. Both books emerge from a spirit of critical psychoanalysis and highlight the importance of psychoanalysis's engaging with other disciplines, including philosophy, literature, and the social sciences.

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