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Psychoanalysis, a gay spatial science?

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Psychoanalysis is primarily a praxis devoted to curing psychic distress. While human geographers are well acquainted with the theoretical insights of psychoanalysis, there are few spatial analyses of how its theories are put to work in its clinical methods, techniques and practices. The thesis of this paper is that an investigation of the intense spatialities in psychoanalytic sessions can further understandings of psychoanalytic theory and its relevance to critical geographic inquiry. I argue that the transferential forces of play, desire and affect in Donald Winnicott and Jacques Lacan's psychoanalytic treatment of analysands is a realization of, or at least comparable to what Friedrich Nietzsche called a 'gay science'. In proposing a historical precedent to psychoanalysis, I draw on a constellation of meanings associated with the category 'gay' in order to map some spatial nuances of psychoanalytic praxis. The paper focuses on the case studies of Winnicott's 're-mothering' of a male analysand and contemporary Lacanian analyses of hysterics and autistic children. In striving for clinical efficacy, these psychoanalyses utilize, on the one hand, the gaiety of joy, love, desire and mothering, and, on the other hand, the not-so-gay, yet therapeutic, forces of pain, aggressiveness, separation and mourning. The paper concludes by suggesting future directions for gay psycho-spatial analyses through a brief appraisal of the interdisciplinary social theoretical literature of the 'new Lacanians', in particular the work of Slavoj Zˇizˇek.

Keywords: Lacan; Nietzsche; Psychoanalysis; gay; science

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Geography, Miami University, Oxford, OH 45056, USA

Publication date: September 1, 2003

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