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Moss, D. (2019). Free Speech, Love Speech, Hate Speech, and Neutrality: In and Out of the Consulting Room. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 67(2):313-327.

(2019). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 67(2):313-327


Free Speech, Love Speech, Hate Speech, and Neutrality: In and Out of the Consulting Room

Donald Moss

My patient, a thirty-five-year-old man from the Midwest, new to New York: “Okay. It's summer. I was just waiting outside for the session. All these women with yoga clothes on. Perfect butts. You don't get those butts by accident. What do they want from me? I'm not safe anywhere. I'm beleaguered. I'm reduced. I see them and suddenly I'm no ego, just wanting. That one and that one and that one. No matter, twelve years old, twenty-two, fifty-two. It's not decent. I can understand the Taliban. Sitting out there, I had my Taliban moment. Just cover up, why don't you? Why don't all of us, men, women, all of us, just cover the fuck up. Leave me alone. Let me be. I don't want to be this way. I can't stand it. I see them and I want it all. I don't want to want what I want. Father, forgive me.”

For a hundred and twenty-five years and more, we analysts have done our best to deal with “love speech” like this—its too much-ness, its power to overwhelm, to paralyze and to reduce both its speakers and its listeners, to drive us all crazy, to turn tenderness into cruelty, desire into violence, yearning into flight. (One could reasonably call love speech “erotic speech,” but for purposes of contrast and clarity here, “love speech” seems to me the more apposite term.)

Love speech is transmitted in the voice of the first-person singular, “I” my patient says, and means it. In spite of what he calls his “Taliban moment,” he makes it clear that it is not all men, but instead he and he alone here who is suffering.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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