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Minonne, G. (2020). Commentary on Laufer. Psychoanal. Inq., 40(8):591-592.

(2020). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 40(8):591-592

Commentary on Laufer

Giovanni Minonne, Ph.D.

Laurie Laufer draws from the fundamental contribution of Foucault, from the work of contemporary queer theorists, and from Freud and Lacan, to show how sexuality and gender identity need to be conceived in historical ways, beyond a supposed universal binary and hetero-normative perspective. According to the author, a return to Foucault is necessary to promote a psychoanalytic practice and theory able to renew itself, instead of being reduced to dead language and “ahistorical, universal, timeless, and transcendent formulas” (p. 579). Laufer believes that psychoanalysis, in order to survive, needs to be part of a more general practice of political critique, part of a movement of “voluntary inservitude” and “deliberate indocility” toward the dominant political and social powers.

Laufer reminds us that psychoanalysis emerged as a discipline in the context of what Foucault called the “repressive hypothesis,” the assumption that sexuality is repressed and needs to be liberated. An alternative to this view of the relationship between sexuality and social norms and power, she argues, is a perspective in which sexuality is not treated as ahistorical nature that is oppressed and needs to be liberated, but as a historically conditioned bio-social practice that is constantly created.

Laufer notes how, in the 1920s and 1930s, the new discipline of psychanalysis acquired a kind of “political honor” through opposition to racism and fascism, and to the dominant pseudo-scientific claims of a “neuropsychiatry of degeneration” (p.

[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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