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Levaque, C. (2017). Margaret Atwood and Assisted Reproduction: From Fantasy to Reality. Psychoanal. Inq., 37(8):525-529.

(2017). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 37(8):525-529

Margaret Atwood and Assisted Reproduction: From Fantasy to Reality

Carole Levaque, BSc, MA

This article raises the bewildering impact of artificial reproduction techniques (ART) for analysts, for the family, for the couple, and for their children. It explores a number of concerns, some of which include: the dissociation of sex from reproduction; the relative absence of the usual time limits that people have traditionally taken into consideration to conceive; questions about generation and age; the risk of perceiving oneself as omnipotent; the need to renovate the story of how one came to be; the impact of ART on the way the primal scene and the Oedipal complex are worked through when there is no longer only a triangle, but more people involved in procreation; the children’s identity (Who are my real parents?) and the impact on the identity of the women involved in participating in the procreation such as the egg donor or surrogate. It also addresses the impact of ART on the analyst who has to deal with situations for which he or she is not prepared either personally or professionally. It begins by exploring Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel, The Handmaid’s Tale, and its present day relevance to ART. Atwood’s vision was prescient. The similarity between the lives and experiences of her Handmaids and that of today’s commercial surrogates in India is often striking. It also presents some ways in which literature and media are predicting the challenges that ART will bring in the future. It explores how what was fiction a few decades ago has become reality and how what we presently think of as fiction will perhaps be a reality in the not-so-distant future. The second part of the article presents a clinical vignette in which a couple presents with infertility in the wife, whose infertility was the consequence of chemotherapy treatment she received as a young adult. She decided to look for a donor in a European country and succeeded at getting pregnant. However, though successful, the pregnancy proved to be extremely difficult. When a second pregnancy was desired, the same donor provided with her ova. To avoid the complications of the first pregnancies, the couple accepted the wife’s sister’s offer to carry the pregnancy. Their daughters are now two and four years old.

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