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Speculating on sexual subjectivity: on the application and misapplication of postmodern discourse on the psychology of sexuality

Balick, Aaron (2011) 'Speculating on sexual subjectivity: on the application and misapplication of postmodern discourse on the psychology of sexuality.' Psychology and Sexuality, 2 (1). pp. 16-28. ISSN 1941-9899

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Postmodernism, particularly within the social sciences, has served a useful purpose in subverting notions of truth, and because of this, models of positivistic linear psychological development alongside concepts of identity within psychotherapy have come under great scrutiny and deconstruction. Importantly, postmodernism interrogates the dynamics of power, calling into question the relationship between therapist and client by challenging the notion of therapist authority in relation to their clients. With regard to queer theory in particular, previous notions of gender and sexual categories have been deemed thoroughly unhinged from essentialist modes in exchange for wholly socially constructed ones; identities based on gender and sexuality are thereby seen as specifying and limiting. Many queer theorists encourage a postmodern perspective within psychotherapy where identities are subverted and undermined in the name of freeing individuals and society at large – ‘fluidity’ is seen as the developmentally desired position. Psychotherapists, however, must ask whether the paradigm of fluidity and the deconstruction of identities are simply replacing one powerful discourse with another. Furthermore, should a discourse that comes from a philosophical/political background (one that is a-clinical) inform therapeutic practice? How psychotherapeutic practice and theory can take on the insights of queer theory while at the same time honour the phenomenological experience of clients, which frequently adheres to strong notions of gender and sexual identity, will be of great importance. Queer insights cannot be applied to psychotherapy in toto. A relational approach to rework postmodern theory in relation to the practice of psychotherapy is needed: one that reassesses the relationship of post-Foucaultian gender theorising in relation to an understanding that gender and sexual identities in addition to being specifying can also be personally and politically liberating.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: relational psychoanalysis; queer theory; postmodernism; psychotherapy; fluidity; gender theory; sexuality; identity; Foucault
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies, Department of
SWORD Depositor: Elements
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 13 Jan 2012 13:15
Last Modified: 06 Jan 2022 14:35

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