Abstract

Abstract:

Once upon a time, in the 1970s and 1980s, perversion was still an untamed area ripe for psychoanalytic exploration. In exploring perversion, we were free to go beyond the constraints of classical theory about oedipal conflict and ponder where and how sexuality arose, developed, and was used by patients. Perversion, then and now, has been tainted by the sense of something bad, wrong, transgressive. Once we stopped defining perversion as behavior requisite for sexual functioning, we could begin to move toward what could be pleasurable in perversion, especially excitement. And then Laplancheans and Queer theorists would help us reclaim the perverse as valuable, and help us try to accept our patients' intense sexuality. Perverse excitement, rather than perversion, becomes our contemporary fascination. It becomes a way to engage another when ordinary calm caring is unimaginable. Infantile sexuality can be hijacked so as to stir up another when one feels uncared for, disregarded. Perverse excitement can be passed from generation to generation and experienced as something foreign, monstrous, unmanageable—a lust that has to be hidden behind barriers.

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