Psychoanalysis and Homosexuality: the Relevance of Homophobia and Shame For All Sexualities — Lectures from the Tavistock Relationships Model

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Organised by:

Tavistock Relationships

13 October 2023

Time: 18:00 - 19:00

Price: £15

Location: online


Speaker: Leezah Hertzmann

Psychoanalysis has previously regarded same sex desire in adulthood as pathological, a deviation from the heterosexual “norm”. These homophobic attitudes and beliefs served to reinforce heteronormativity’s position as another form of “bedrock”. But in the last several decades, there has been a wider contemporary critique of classical psychoanalytic ideas about the developmental paths by which an individual becomes aware of their sexual orientation and gender identity.

We rely on theories to inform our formulations, but when we find these do not apply to the lived sexual experience of many for whom sexuality is more fluid, there is often a pressure to be “politically correct”. Consequently, clinicians can feel adrift, paralysed or silenced when encountering a patient whose values and relationship patterns are radically different from their own.

In this talk, the seventh in our online series Lectures from the Tavistock Relationships Model, Leezah Hertzmann will describe some contemporary developments in psychoanalytic thinking about sexuality from a post-heteronormative standpoint, including an exploration of how heteronormative bias has relegated lived sexual experience to the side-lines.

She will explore the role played by conscious and unconscious homophobia, the centrality of internalised homophobia, and the complexity of shame and its après coup nature. Whilst shame is a ubiquitous feeling and may not be relevant for all LGBTQI+ people, Leezah will discuss how there are elements of this struggle within all of us which can have an important bearing on both the analytic and supervisory relationships.

Advocating a more flexible encounter in the consulting room whilst maintaining the frame can potentially illuminate an understanding of all sexualities including heterosexuality. Case examples will be discussed and clinical challenges and dilemmas considered, and there will be the opportunity for attendees to ask questions.

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