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Restuccia, F.L. (1998). Response to Lynne Layton. Gender and Psychoanalysis, 3(2):171-174.

(1998). Gender and Psychoanalysis, 3(2):171-174

Response to Lynne Layton Related Papers

Frances L. Restuccia, Ph.D.

The first long paragraph of Lynne Layton's response to my article, “Conjurings: Mourning and Abjection in Story of O and Return to the Château,” for the most part characterizes my analysis of these texts accurately and fairly. It is true that, while my essay raises the question of a resistant strategy within female masochism, I am preoccupied with “understanding the psychic needs that masochism fulfills for a female subject,” or, we should say, deject. Layton pinpoints my focus: the trauma that accounts for O's pain and for her strategy of securing pleasure in pain.

But once Jessica Benjamin enters the picture, trouble ensues: Crucial distinctions between my analysis of O and Benjamin's get blurred. I am gratified that Layton perceives my discovery of the source of O's trauma in an abandoning mother as “an important move.” Layton makes a valid point in suggesting that feminist work has overcompensated for blaming the mother: The time has come, she proposes, when we should be able to interrogate the mother's role in the patriarchal family without falling into mother bashing or mother sanctification. Nevertheless, my article is simply not interested (as Layton, at one point, presumes it is) in a “more generalizable trauma that results from the cultural demand to separate from the mother in order to accede to subjectivity.” Possibly Layton attributes this concern to me because she assumes it belongs to Kristeva, whose ideas about abjection in Powers of Horror (1982) suffuse my piece.

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