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Ontology and Perversion | Rowman & Littlefield International

Diagnostic Assessment p. Roudinesco follows the example of Freud, who would remind his friend the pastor Pfi ster that one has to call things by their names. Roudinesco does not hesitate to plunge into the catalogue of perverse eroticism, from the homicidal madness of the guardians of Auschwitz to the more entertaining aberrations of zoophilia.

She asserts that an explicit description is the best antidote to the imaginary glue in which perverts hope to catch our imaginations. The point is to reach a transcendental point of view and to ask, as Kant did, what are the conditions of possibility of such practices.


If one begins at the beginning, we fi nd narratives; Roudinesco focuses at fi rst on two types of perversions that have been documented in history: the excesses of Christian mysticism and the crimes of homicidal sadists. In the middle ages, one fi nds characters like Catherina of Siena, who loved to suck the pus of cancerous breasts, or Marguerite Mary Alacoque, still revered in Ireland, who would eat the feces left by dysenteric men in a hospice.

Such practices were justifi ed if they brought about an ecstatic merging with the suffering body of Christ. The second half of the diptych coming from roughly the same period is condensed by the case history of Gilles de Rais, who was burned at the stake. The army general who had saved France several times was exposed as a sodomite who had tortured and killed more than three hundred children and young men whom he had seduced.

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This is just one part of this general chronicle of historical perversions. Such historiography is fully documented by legal and psychiatric extracts.

Understanding Perversion in Clinical Practice: Structure and Strategy in the Psyche

The broad historical sketch is made more vivid by close-ups. Freud wanted to elaborate a theory of the deepest springs of our being leading to unconscious knowledge at the cusp of our bodies and our speech. After having been entertained or awed by the historical narrative of extreme practices, we are ready to follow Roudinesco when she intervenes forcefully in recent debates. The term fl aunts its neutrality, limits its scope to observable behavior, and never touches upon issues of subjectivity.

Transsexualism and zoophilia also appear as acceptable, if not recommended to all. On the other hand, Roudinesco gives a positive portrait of Robert Stoller, a pioneer for gender theory and queer theory.


For her brand of Lacanian psychoanalysis as well as for Freud, homosexuality is not defi ned as a perversion. Above all, Roudinesco insists that we should stick to the concept and retain all its theoretical valence and purchase. Otherwise, passing by the way of structuralism in psychoanalysis, via Lacan, it was possible to consider some predicaments that have designed this when psychoanalyst seek generate subject and structure. In that sense, despite the distinction drawn between assembly and structural identities, something else takes the clinical stage as the key in the clinic of perversions.

Palavras-chave : perversion; structure; assembly; other; subject.

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