Unskewered: The anti-Oedipal gothic of Patrick McGrath

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In Patrick McGrath’s gothic fiction there are ‘psychoanalysts everywhere’, and therapy itself generates horror. From early gleeful parodies of Freudianism such as ‘The Skewer’ (1988), McGrath’s fiction would develop a sustained attack on psychotherapy and psychiatry, as well as the broader field of psychoanalytic theory and practice. Horror is revealed not only behind the walls of the asylum, but also, and especially, in a mistaken diagnosis and perspective on mental anomaly. McGrath’s attacks on psychoanalysis can be aligned with the anti-Oedipal project of Gilles Deleuze and FĂ©lix Guattari. In this article I contend that novels such as Asylum and Spider have affinities with the concept of schizoanalysis, and that this offers a creative method of thinking through horror after Freud. Via McGrath’s fascinatingly ‘mad’ characters and his richly textured style, the act of reading itself induces virtual derangement.

Keywords: Deleuze and Guattari; Freud; anti-Oedipus; asylums; gothic; schizoanalysis

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1386/host.3.2.263_1

Affiliations: Manchester Metropolitan University

Publication date: September 26, 2012

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  • Horror Studies intends to serve the international academic community in the humanities and specifically those scholars interested in horror. Exclusively examining horror, this journal will provide interested professionals with an opportunity to read outstanding scholarship from a variety of disciplinary perspectives, including work conceived as interdisciplinary. By expanding the conversation to include specialists concerned with diverse historical periods, varied geography, and a wide variety of expressive media, this journal will inform and stimulate anyone interested in a wider and deeper understanding of horror
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