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Dailey, A. (2017). Violating Boundaries. Studies in Gender and Sexuality, 18(1):13-18.

(2017). Studies in Gender and Sexuality, 18(1):13-18

Violating Boundaries

Anne C. Dailey, J.D.

This essay begins by questioning the role that the word “boundary” plays when we say that a “sexual boundary violation” has occurred in an analytic treatment. Boundaries are bright lines drawn to separate lawful from unlawful, consensual from coerced, free from exploited, ownership from trespass, fantasy from reality. But the notion of boundaries fails in a profound and fateful way to capture the inescapable circulation of erotic transference and countertransference feelings in an analysis. Instead, this essay proposes that we look to the notion of sublimation for insights into the psychic dynamics of sexual behavior between analyst and analysand. It explores the ambivalence and mourning that surround the sublimation of desire. This discussion of sublimation sheds light on sexual violations in other types of professional relationships as well as recently adopted affirmative consent laws and policies on college campuses.

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