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Lesbians and Psychoanalysis: Revolutions in Theory and Practice.

Edited by Judith M. Glassgold & Suzanne Iasenza. Toronto: Free Press, 1995. ISBN 002-8740068.

Reviewed by: Claude Guldner, Th.D., Director, Couple and Family Therapy Centre, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario.

Historically, psychoanalytic perspectives towards lesbianism have been, to say the least, uncharitable. Although the father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, is thought to have been somewhat sympathetic to gays and lesbians, the psychoanalytic community has, by and large, treated homosexuals as the victims of inhibited psychic development, unable to overcome their "neurosis". Given this history, Lesbians and Psychoanalysis. Revolutions in Theory and Practice represents a bold departure from the traditional psychoanalytic perspective towards lesbianism, and this helps to make it one of the most exciting books in the field of human sexuality that I have read in some time. The authors, who are lesbian psychoanalysts, researchers or theorists, embody a postmodern, social constructionist perspective that provides an alternative to the orthodoxy of traditional psychoanalysis. Chapter titles such as "Out of the closet and on to the couch", "How to have your phallus and be it too", "Coming out of the frame: Lesbian feminism and psychoanalytic theory", and "Queer reflections: Mirroring and the lesbian experience of self" reflect the general flavour of the writing.

The book is divided into three sections: "Past to present: Rethinking theory"; "Present concerns in clinical practice and training"; and "Into the future: Theory and practice", each containing seven or eight chapters. Throughout the book, each author is careful with her use of language, and defines how she is using the relevant terminology. This is helpful because too often, complex social science terminology and jargon is subject to multiple meanings, with one author using a term differently than another. As a sex therapist, I found the two chapters on homophobia in the supervision relationship particularly beneficial. Homophobia is an issue that is rarely addressed in the supervision literature. This book helps to address this shortcoming.

Although the particular focus of this book is lesbianism and psychoanalysis, it deserves an audience wider than analysts, therapists, and those interested specifically in lesbianism. While the book provides an overview of much of the current thinking on lesbianism and related issues, the authors generate many important insights and perspectives that may apply to a range of sexualities. It would be a shame if those suspicious or dismissive of the psychoanalytic tradition, particularly as it relates to sexual orientation, were to ignore this book. Rejecting the notion that homosexuality is a perversion, Lesbianism and Psychoanalysis represents a bold step forward for psychoanalysis.
COPYRIGHT 1997 SIECCAN, The Sex Information and Education Council of Canada
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1997 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Guldner, Claude
Publication:The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Mar 22, 1997
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