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Saketopoulou, A. (2014). To Suffer Pleasure: The Shattering of the Ego as the Psychic Labor of Perverse Sexuality. Studies in Gender and Sexuality, 15(4):254-268.

(2014). Studies in Gender and Sexuality, 15(4):254-268

To Suffer Pleasure: The Shattering of the Ego as the Psychic Labor of Perverse Sexuality

Avgi Saketopoulou, Psy.D.

In this article I advance an alternative exegesis of perverse sexuality that permits an analyst to regard it not from within a state of alarm but with the capacity to recognize perversity’s generative potential. Pleasure and pain are often approached as independent experiences that become soldered together under the aegis of trauma or pathology. In this essay, I argue that pleasure and pain are developmentally coextensive phenomena. I rely on Laplanche’s theory of infantile sexuality to suggest that the sexualization of suffering is developmentally installed in sexuality’s very ontology. Although frequently and reflexively conceptualized in psychoanalysis as a demise of the sexual function, perversity can be, I propose, oftentimes sexuality’s aspiration. Through its interembodied transgressiveness, perversion recruits the body’s materiality to perform meaningful psychic labor: to facilitate the transformation of intergenerational debts we have inherited from others in the form of enigmatic parental and cultural implants into a relationship to oneself.

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