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Patricia McCarthy – The Impossibility of the Sexual Act (Some thoughts on Perversion and Obsessional Neurosis)

 

THE LETTER 15 (Spring 1999) pages 51-60

 

Introduction

 

This does not sound like a title that makes sense, and clearly it doesn’t make sense at the level of what we, ordinarily, take the sexual act to be, that is, at the social or human level. However at the level of the subject, the sexual act is silence. There is a syncopation of signifiers when it comes to dealing with what is involved in sex. To syncopate a word is to shorten it by dropping out an interior letter or syllable, for instance the word ‘never’ becoming ‘ne’er’. The structural syncopation in meaning at the level of the unconscious, is already a consequence of a logic that sets the subject up. Can such a lofty theorisation have clinical relevance? To define the subject in terms of the difficulty of the sexual act is, hopefully, to allow us pinpoint more clearly, where on the path of difficulty, the neurotic or perverse subject places himself. Over all of this, the status of the analytic act hangs suspended …

The Impossibility of the Sexual Act (Some thoughts on Perversion and Obsessional

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