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Fast, I. (1999). Reply to Commentary. Psychoanal. Dial., 9(5):675-682.
(1999). Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 9(5):675-682
Reply to Commentary
Irene Fast, Ph.D.
IT IS A GREAT PLEASURE TO HAVE ADRIENNE HARRIS THINK ABOUT AND comment on my own thinking. Many thanks to her. She emphasizes (rightly, I think) the unresolved complexities in our thinking about sex and gender issues, and the importance, therefore, of attending carefully to the views of those taking positions against the mainstream—such as intersex and transgender groups—while also examining with great care evidence purporting to support one or another controversial position, as illustrated in the John/Joan case.
Harris is correct in her view that I have wanted to place developments in core gender identity in a strongly relational context. It is a relational context I first elaborated as event theory, a conception that, to my considerable pleasure, Harris values. In this conception of gender, however, it seems to Harris that I leave event theory behind. I have no intention of doing that.
In fact, the notion of I-schemes and of a dynamic I-self (and sense of identity) builds directly on event theory. The notion that the dynamic aspects of our psychic structures are composed of personally motivated schemes of interaction is fundamental to event theory. These schemes are composed of all the aspects of an interaction: bodily, mental, perceptual, cognitive, emotional, self and other. Initially all these aspects are inchoate in the global scheme—for example, a scheme of nursing, mutual gaze, or, a little later, peekaboo. Development occurs as the multitude of scheme aspects is articulated in processes of integration and differentiation.
In a recent book, Selving: A Relational Theory of Self Organization (1998), I elaborate the the ways we might understand event schemes as constituting our dynamic I-selves, our personal ways of understanding our experience and acting in our worlds. The present paper explores a further aspect of such schemes—the ways they might be implicated in gender developments of early life.
This paper raises the possibility that, from the beginning of life, our I-Schemes (event schemes) are gendered.
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