Andrea CelenzaErotic Revelations: Clinical Applications and Perverse Scenarios

Routledge, 2014

by Anne Wennerstrand on November 10, 2015

Andrea Celenza

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[NB:Please be forewarned, there is some brief audio difficulty at the beginning of the interview.  It does clear up quickly, so please do listen through.] We are drawn to what is hidden. We are excited by what is mysterious whether we find it beautiful or repellant. Erotic experience is all about this urge. Sexuality, both in its defensive function and as an intrinsic part of being human, defines the ways in which we engage in the psychoanalytic situation. However, it can be very difficult – even taboo – for analysts to admit having erotic feelings towards a patient, and it can be equally thorny handling erotic transference when it arises in a treatment. In Erotic Revelations: Clinical Applications and Perverse Scenarios (Routledge, 2014), Andrea Celenza discusses the importance of reclaiming sexuality as one of the many realms that are of central concern to our patients as she simultaneously observes the pervasive "desexualization" of the psychoanalytic field. She asserts that erotic transference and countertransference (of various manifestations) should be explored in every thorough analysis and she means to bring sex squarely back into psychoanalytic theorizing.

Celenza offers careful consideration of the use and perils of embodied erotic countertransference as well as dilemmas surrounding self-disclosure, guilty pleasure and the "slippery slope" towards sexual boundary transgression (the subject of her earlier writing.) Celenza and I discuss writing about patients, mutuality, asymmetry, embodiment, re-eroticization, multiplicity and contradictory gender considerations proposing ways in which the binary (e.g., "feminine" and "masculine") poses constraints that may be transcended. Finally, Celenza reclaims the term "perversion" as a mode of relating vs. a descriptor of behavior thereby restoring its usefulness in the psychoanalytic lexicon. Among other points, she posits that perverse scenarios are attempts to construct a one-person fantasy/universe thereby defending against dangerous subjectivities (either within one's self or in the other.)

Dr. Andrea Celenza, is a Training and Supervising Analyst at the Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute, Faculty at the Massachusetts Institute for Psychoanalysis and an Assistant Clinical Professor at Harvard Medical School.  She is in private practice in Lexington, Massachusetts and is a proud and avid soccer player.

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