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Elise, D. (2002). Being Bad on the Side: Commentary on Paper by Eric Sherman. Psychoanal. Dial., 12(4):667-673.

(2002). Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 12(4):667-673

Being Bad on the Side: Commentary on Paper by Eric Sherman Related Papers

Dianne Elise, Ph.D.

Sherman underscores the tenacity of phobic avoidance of homoeroticism, especially between men. Homophobia and anxieties related to gender identity are prevalent. I agree with Sherman that the feeling of being psychically penetrated can represent a particular threat to men. Sherman's use of the image of opening Pandora's box reveals a fear of a vulnerable, “vaginal” opening in men. In defense, rigidly “professional” relationships may prevail. This clinical scenario often repeats an early developmental dynamic with the father; erotic desire between males has a deep genetic history of dissociation and denial. Psychoanalytic theorists have had difficulty approaching this topic of passions for the same sex.

Thinking further about elements that might entrench this dread and avoidance, I focus on the image of “being bad on the side,” with its potential meaning with regard to the primal scene. Homoeroticism might unconsciously register as a form of “cheating” on the heterosexual, reproductive couple—not sanctioned, tabooed, “cursed,” and thus particularly tantalizing and frightening. Analytic understanding of male development allows for the recognition of an especially strong sense of both attraction and danger for the male pairing—a “Laius curse.”

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