“Withdrawal” and Virtus Dormitiva: Misfortunes of Aetiology in Psychoanalysis

What Gender Does to Psychoanalysis
By Thamy Ayouch

In order to approach “homosexualities”, many psychoanalysts often take up the notion of withdrawal, introduced by Freud in his text on “The Case of Homosexuality in a Young Woman”. This notion is then used, more by post-Freudians than by Freud, as a principle of explanation and classification of “homosexualities”, apprehended in their relationship to the Oedipus. Hence, plural “homosexualities” are most usually considered as a defence against unassumable, singular heterosexuality. The notion of withdrawal then proves quite problematic, and raises a certain number of questions. To study the way it works in psychoanalytic texts, one could follow what Éric Fassin called “the inversion of the homosexual question”. The author analyses this notion as it appears in Freud’s text, and in some of his modern-day commentators’, in order to reflect on the use of aetiology in psychoanalysis and the fantasies of gender and sexuality that may determine it.

  • withdrawal
  • homosexualities”
  • aetiology
  • gender
  • psychoanalysis
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