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Maguire, M. (2005). The Website ‘Girl’: Contemporary Theories about Male ‘Femininity’. Brit. J. Psychother., 22(1):3-20.

(2005). British Journal of Psychotherapy, 22(1):3-20


The Website ‘Girl’: Contemporary Theories about Male ‘Femininity’

Marie Maguire

I explore a bisexual male patient's need to differentiate highly problematic ‘feminine’ identifications - originating in childhood sexual abuse and impingement by men as well as women - from identifications with more admired aspects of his mother. My main focus is on the patient's sexual identity - the personal meaning he gave to being male - rather than on his bisexuality - his desire for both sexes. In psychoanalytic literature powerful opposite-sex identifications are usually associated either with psychotic confusion or celebrated as a source of psychic strength. The co-existence of problematic and highly valued cross-sex identifications is rarely discussed. I also look at how this patient re-negotiated his identity through the transference relationship with a female psychotherapist, given that his ‘masculinity’ derived mainly from childhood experiences of ‘stealing’ his mother's phallic power. Through a wide-ranging theoretical review I conclude that we need to draw together opposing psychoanalytic perspectives about maternal and paternal power, opening up new ways of thinking about triangular relationships in the transference.

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