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Celenza, A. (2006). Sexual Boundary Violations in the Office: When is a Couch Just a Couch?. Psychoanal. Dial., 16(1):113-128.

(2006). Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 16(1):113-128

Sexual Boundary Violations in the Office: When is a Couch Just a Couch?

Andrea Celenza, Ph.D.

This paper considers the role of the concrete aspects of the psychoanalytic situation, that is, the couch and the office, in setting the stage for sexualized boundary violations. Just as perverse sexual acts hinge on the use of some concrete thing or ritual for sexual pleasure, props of the psychoanalytic situation can be fetishized. The couch is one such prop that can become a degraded icon of psychoanalysis. In sexualized boundary violations, the concrete aspects of the psychoanalytic setting can lose their power to evoke layered images and multiple potential modes of relating, and become instead coopted into a degraded, objectified perverse scenario.

The two main types of sexualized boundary violations are described. These are formulated as two types of perverse scenarios, direct or displaced; the unconscious drama in the mind of the transgressor is illustrated in each instance. The extent to which these perverse scenarios do or do not make use of the concrete aspects of the psychoanalytic situation is elaborated. Parallels to different types of perversions are drawn, as in the use of the couch (the preeminent psychoanalytic icon) as a fetish to degrade and corrupt the profession.

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