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Kiersky, S.M. (2005). Revenge and Forgiveness in Psychoanalysis: Commentary on Stephen Wangh's “Revenge and Forgiveness in Laramie, Wyoming”. Psychoanal. Dial., 15(5):771-778.

(2005). Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 15(5):771-778

Revenge and Forgiveness in Psychoanalysis: Commentary on Stephen Wangh's “Revenge and Forgiveness in Laramie, Wyoming”

Sandra M. Kiersky, Ph.D.

Stephen Wangh's thoughtful essay on revenge and forgiveness in Laramie, Wyoming, raises a number of questions about the role of psychoanalytic theory in shaping as well as reflecting culture. The events that took place in Laramie cannot just be material for psychoanalysts to examine and interpret. Rather, Laramie is a mirror that forces usto reflect on ourselves and our own contribution to the killing of Matthew Shepherd because he was gay. Psychoanalysts have described gay men as immature, predatory, paranoid, narcissistic, sadistic, masochistic, and pitiable. As the major discourse on gender and sexuality in the Western world, we have been and remain an influential part of the larger context in which gay men become the targets of hatred disguised as moral outrage. Rigid gender prescriptions add to the problem by pathologizing some groups and idealizing others. Psychoanalysts need to acknowledge this homophobia and its consequences directly and begin to rethink theory along more intersubjective, less value-laden lines. Some parallels to the South African truth and reconciliation movement are suggested.

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