Monday, March 23, 2009

SEX CHANGES: Transformations in Society and Psychoanalysis, by Mark J. Blechner

Just released: A new book by Mark J. Blechner ( )
Transformations in Society and Psychoanalysis
New York and London: 
Routledge Press, 2009.

The last half-century has seen enormous changes in society’s  attitude toward sexuality. In the 1950s, homosexuals in the United States were routinely arrested; today, homosexual activity between consenting adults is legal in every state, with same-sex marriage legal in Massachusetts and Connecticut. In the 1950s, ambitious women were often seen as psychopathological and were told by psychoanalysts that they had penis envy that needed treatment; today, a woman has campaigned for President of the United States. In the 1950s, interracial marriage was illegal in many states. Today, the son of an interracial marriage is President.

Mark J. Blechner has lived and worked through these startling changes in society, and Sex Changes collects papers he has written over the last 45 years on sex, gender, and sexuality. Interspersed with these papers are reflections on the changes that have occurred during that time period, both within the scope of society at large as well as in his personal experiences inside and outside of the therapeutic setting. He shows how changes in society, changes in his life, and changes in his writing on sexuality - as well as changes within psychoanalysis itself - have affected one another.

One hundred years ago, psychoanalysis was at the cutting edge of new ideas about sex and gender, but in the latter half of the 20th Century, psychoanalysts were often seen as reactionary upholders of society’s prejudices. Sex Changes seeks to restore the place of psychoanalysis as the “once and future queer science,” and aims for a radical shift in psychoanalytic thinking about sexuality, gender, normalcy, prejudice, and the relationship of therapeutic aims and values.

Early Praise for Sex Changes
“Psychoanalysts are supposed to know about sex. Freud’s contributions, centered on sexuality and psychoanalysis, began as a progressive social movement that promised to liberate people’s sexuality. And yet, we psychotherapists and psychoanalysts do not know about sex, at least not nearly enough. Our training rarely includes a thorough study of the diversity of sexuality, and our ignorance limits and even interferes in our work and perpetuates bias and prejudice. With Sex Changes, Mark Blechner, in a brilliant transvaluation of the term perversion, proclaims himself a ‘professional pervert’ and challenges us to overcome our homo-ignorance and our sexual benightedness more broadly, to facilitate a return to psychoanalysis being once again a progressive and even revolutionary ‘queer science.’ He blends an intimate, deeply moving biographical account with a theoretically sophisticated, scholarly, jargon-free narrative. All practicing therapists should read this book – who knows where it will lead?”- Lewis Aron, Ph.D., Director, NYU Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis
“Blechner's impassioned plea for a more enlightened psychoanalysis of desire offers the reader an unusual opportunity: to track the emergence of an author's ideas in their personal, social, and psychoanalytic contexts. Consistently illuminating, this book is not to be missed.”

Part I: Psychoanalysis, Sexuality, and Prejudice.
Homosexuality and the Rorschach Test.
Psychoanalysis In and Out of the Closet.
The Experienceof Hating and Being Hated.
Homophobia in Psychoanalytic Writing and Practice: A Comment on Trop and Stolorow (1992) and Hanna (1992).
The Interaction of Societal Prejudice with Psychodiagnosis and Treatment Aims.
The Closeting of History.
Selective Inattention and Bigotry: A Discussion of the Film Trembling before G-d.

Part II: Sex, Gender, and the Good Life.
Maleness and Masculinity.
Disgust, Desire, and Fascination: Psychoanalytic, Cultural, Historical, and Neurobiological Perspectives.
Intimacy, Pleasure, Risk, and Safety.
Love, Sex, Romance, and Psychoanalytic Goals.
Polymorphous without Perversity: A Queer View of Desire.
Erotic and Anti-Erotic Transference.
The Political is Psychoanalytic: On Same-Sex Marriage.

For further information, go to

Reprinted with permission from Mark J. Blechner, Ph.D. 

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