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The Body, Sexuality, and Sexual Difference

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Freud’s discovery of psychoanalysis can be seen as a new discursive and conceptual arrangement which radically displaced the prevailing conceptual paradigms developed by the natural and historical sciences during the nineteenth century. These more familiar paradigms, however, continue to dominate the reception of psychoanalysis today, in the form of debates between those who see Freud’s legacy as anticipating arguments for the social and historical construction of sexuality, and those who see Freud and Lacan as maintaining a covert appeal to naturalism or essentialism, through their purportedly ahistorical and formalist arguments about sexuality. From a genealogical point of view, both these interpretations remain bound to the very paradigms that psychoanalysis was intended to displace. As a result, the conceptual distinctiveness of psychoanalysis tends to disappear in the very course of its reception. This problem can be seen in Freud himself, and Foucault was one of the first to diagnose this difficulty, in his work on Bataille and transgression.
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Keywords: Charcot; Foucault; Freud; body; history of psychoanalysis; organism; sexuality

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of English,State University of New York at Albany, Humanities 333 1400 Washington AvenueAlbany,NY 12222, USA

Publication date: 01 June 2012

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