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Schwartz, C. (2001). Sexual Subjects: Lesbians, Gender And Psychoanalysis. By Adria E. Schwartz. New York: Routledge Press, 1998, 200 pp.. Psychoanal. Rev., 88(4):585-587.

(2001). Psychoanalytic Review, 88(4):585-587


Sexual Subjects: Lesbians, Gender And Psychoanalysis. By Adria E. Schwartz. New York: Routledge Press, 1998, 200 pp.

Review by:
Charlotte Schwartz, MSS, CSW

In Sexual Subjects, Adria Schwartz has presented a series of essentially political essays on lesbians, gender, and psychoanalysis. She is a good writer, but, unfortunately, her claim that this books deals with lesbian sexuality within a psychoanalytic frame of reference is overstated. Schwartz's admixture of declaratory statements and theoretical hypotheses represents the dicta of post modern feminism without, however, an in-depth psychodynamic theory.

The first paper, titled “Resistance,” accuses society in general and the psychoanalytic establishment specifically of rejecting and pathologizing lesbianism. One cannot quarrel with this claim, nor escape her accusation that many analysts have been responsible for intensifying the internal conflicts and self-abnegation of lesbians. She reminds us that it took twenty years for the American Psychoanalytic Association to accept the American Psychiatric Association's position that homosexuality is not a pathological condition. Her accusations against psychoanalysts both past and present are a distressing reminder of our prejudice and rigidity.

Schwartz continues this critique in relation to what she views as the patriarchal and phallocentric aspects of psychoanalytic theory. She states that within the “spectrum of women resisters, there is a refusal of phallic primacy that has to do not solely with desire, but, also with issues of agency, subjectivity, and their worldly manifestation in the form of power” (p. 3). Later she indicates that “the spirit in which I discuss resistance carries within it the seeds of de(con) struction for any identity that fixes a parameter of sex/gender in place” (p. 5). These examples highlight the manifesto-like quality of her book rather than the creation of a psychologically informed theory regarding human development that reflects internal psychic structure interacting with the social structure.


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