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Chapter Seven - Sexual Diversity in Cosmopolitan Perspective

Elisabeth Young-Bruehl Karnac Books ePub

CHAPTER SEVEN

Sexual diversity in cosmopolitan perspective

The globalisation of sexology and changes in its categories

In the last decade or so, the concept “sexual diversity” has shifted its meaning and compass in the European-American world, where the scientific study of sex—called sexology—began in earnest at the end of the nineteenth century. For most of the twentieth century, lay people and scientists alike subscribed to a model of human sexuality stipulating that human sexuality normally (and normatively) has little diversity in it. There are just two sexes, male and female; two genders, masculine and feminine, with corollary social roles; and two kinds of sexual preference, same-sex and opposite-sex. “Sexual diversity” was roughly equivalent to “sexual pathology” and that meant (above all else) “non-heterosexual preference”.

In the wake of the European-American second wave feminist movement and the gay liberation movement, the scientific study of sex became much more sophisticated and much less governed by prejudices against women and against homosexuals, so both the prejudices themselves and this Noah's Ark two-of-everything paradigm of sexuality could shift. Now, among progressive people around the world, homosexuality can be considered an ordinary, non-pathological type of sexuality; in the movement's political terms it is “different but equal”. The political situation has changed so dramatically that a 2006 petition entitled “For the Universal Decriminalization of Homosexuality” was launched in the hope of getting the United Nations to favour abrogating the anti-gay laws of the seventy-five countries in the world where homosexuality is still a crime.

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Chapter Nine - Psychobiography and Character Study: A Reflection

Elisabeth Young-Bruehl Karnac Books ePub

CHAPTER NINE

Psychobiography and character study: a reflection


 

Biography as a relational scene

The other day, a patient of mine, who is a psychoanalyst, came in and told me, excitedly, apprehensively, that she had just come from a session with a patient of hers who was furious with me. Her patient had been reading my biography of Anna Freud, and had concluded that I had wilfully concealed Anna Freud's lesbianism. “What do you think?” my patient demanded of me. “Is she right?” When I questioned her question, my patient and I went off in the direction of her attitude towards me at the moment, which was suspicion and fear for the fate of her usual idealisation of me: maybe, she was thinking, I was homophobic and I would reject her for her own lesbianism. The question of Anna Freud's alleged lesbianism receded from our work while we focused on the homophobia my patient feared in me, but my biography remained there, suspended in the matrix of our talk, having an episode in the life it has had since its first appearance back in 1988. Every biography could be a subject of biography. And a biography's life is, also, part of the afterlife of its subject—part of the subject's public self, or publicly created self.

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CHAPTER SEVENTEEN: Cometh the hour

Gillian Preston Karnac Books ePub

Brendan MacCarthy

When, in 1994, I wrote as President to Nina Coltart expressing the hope that she would reconsider her decision to resign from our Society, I ought to have known better. In her polite but firm reply, it was clear that the lady was not for turning. This brief exchange of letters epitomized Nina’s character— strong, lucid, and fearless. Having lost both parents in a wartime rail crash, as they were travelling to visit their two daughters, evacuated to Cornwall, it would not be unreasonable to think that Nina, then aged twelve, had a special awareness of what it was like to be alone. For all her extrovert manner, and her many friends and colleagues, she was always a very private person, always alone.

Her tragic childhood must have contributed to her forceful and highly independent style. Independent by nature and independent by group.

Nina managed her life in a very efficient way and, when crippling arthritis and intractable pain spoiled her enjoyment of her retiring years, she took control of her own death with no attempt to conceal what she had done. She was strongly averse to the cover-up, never one to turn a blind eye.

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CHAPTER THIRTY: The Grand Tour of New England

Gillian Preston Karnac Books ePub

“Pay here by American Express—’That’ll do nicely’—he actually said it. Can’t remember now how or why I got an A.E. Card, but it’s certainly useful abroad.”

8.46 pm Sat Nov 15. FABULOUS! Loving every minute of it!! Jan [Webster] came right to Concorde Lounge, and in it, and we had a real little party—champagne, delicious little sandwiches, very elegant. Concorde waiting quietly outside on its own place. Flights called, and off Jan went, and in I went. Seat 22A, by window, 22B empty so just put my legs and coat there. The pop group Duran Duran—3 strange but q. nice, but noisy, young men were just in front of me. I think one was high on cocaine—he threw himself about and shrieked with laughter—at one point he threw himself so hard against his seat back that he upset my orange juice—not on me! I poked his shoulder hard, and said WILL YOU STOP DOING THAT? He was very apologetic—but as Concord was ½ empty I moved back 2 rows to peace and quiet. Had another orange juice, and 3 darling canapés—a thick lush chunk of paté de foie w. a big truffle in it, on a tiny round of toast, a midget pastry boat with 4 tiny shrimps and mayonnaise on it, and a little whorled round sandwich of smoked salmon. Then elegant white cloth, tray and DINNER—by now, incidentally we are going at Mach 1.5 and soon at Mach 2, = twice the speed of sound, at 59,000 ft. We had a delicate, delicious serving of lobster, surrounded by (a) a few prawns, (b) some chopped onion, (c) some whipped mayonnaise in a scooped out half tomato, and (d) about a dessert spoonful of beluga caviare in half a hard boiled egg, yolk scooped out and chopped beside. !! With a beautifully tossed, dressed, small salad of lettuce, peppers, celery, walnuts and pineapple. Then steak or partridge, so I had partridge, 3 delicate breast slices rolled in bacon with crispy bacon bits stirred in with crispy hot cabbage, broccoli, carrots, and courgettes. I had 2 glasses of a nice chablis with all this. Then a fruit jelly with grapes, fresh orange, and fresh pineapple, then cheese and bics, coffee, and a tiny box of chocolates which I’ve saved. Liqueurs and champers flowing like water, and Duran Duran getting noisier, but I didn’t have any—had some more orange juice and coffee. I read the Times and the Spectator and started my K. Amis book—but only just. The flight took 3 hrs and 25 mins! We landed at JFK at 5.35, their time, and I had the Concorde Limousine Service downtown. And boy, do I mean Limousine! About 15 feet long—a whole room in the back, with a cocktail cabinet! and black glass. I hoped everyone thought it was the Queen at least.

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CHAPTER THIRTY-FIVE: The assessment of psychological-mindedness in the psychiatric interview

Gillian Preston Karnac Books ePub

In the last paragraph of his paper “A defect in training”, Yorke (1988) has a sentence which serves as an excellent link to the opening of this paper : “For all their importance, empathy and awareness of patients’ anxieties do not in themselves amount to psychological understanding” (p. 160). In his paper, he had made a plea for more psychoanalytical psychology to be included in a general postgraduate psychiatric training, and I am in complete agreement with his cogently argued case.

However, I want to concentrate on a particular aspect of this point. When an experienced psychoanalyst is carrying out a diagnostic consultation with a view to assessing a patient’s suitability for analysis or analytical psychotherapy, he is exercising his own skill and psychological-mindedness in this intensive exploration. The prospects of a successful treatment will be greatly enhanced if he finds the patient is “psychologically-minded”—whatever the presenting complaints, or however unpromising the superficial impression. Therefore, I would like to detail some of the qualities of this feature, with a view to offering some guidelines to colleagues who are still learning their technique. Because of the value of brief lists for the purpose of consigning to accessible memory, I shall lay out these points in an approximate order of discovery, rather than of importance, under two main headings. Nevertheless, it should be remembered that the whole may be larger than the sum of its parts.

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