The Law of the Mother : An Essay on the Sexual Sinthome book cover
1st Edition

The Law of the Mother
An Essay on the Sexual Sinthome

ISBN 9781138351196
Published November 26, 2018 by Routledge
338 Pages

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Book Description

The law of the mother is made up of words charged with pleasure and suffering that leave their mark on us in early childhood. In this groundbreaking book, Geneviève Morel explores whether it is possible for the child to escape subjection from this maternal law and develop their own sexual identity.

Through clinical examples and critical commentary, the book illustrates the range and power of maternal influence on the child, and how this can generate different forms of sexual ambiguity. Using a Lacanian framework which revises the classical idea of the Oedipus complex, the book is not only a major contribution to gender studies but also an invaluable aid to the clinician dealing with questions of sexual identity. The book avoids many of the moral and political prejudices that paralyse twenty-first century society, be they related to legislation on marriage, parentage or adoption, the status of "mental health", or the limits to the supposed ownership of the human body.

Insightful and revealing, The Law of the Mother will be of great interest to Lacanian psychoanalysts, as well as to researchers in the fields of gender studies and sexuality.

Table of Contents



Chapter I: The law of the mother and the symptom that separates

Chapter II: A critique of the fundamental fantasy

Chapter III: Freudian constructions and Lacanian reductions

Chapter IV: The symptom abolishes the symbol

Chapter V: The young man without an ego

Chapter VI: Extensions of the symptom

Chapter VII: Psychoanalytic uses of the sinthome

Chapter VIII: Sinthome and sexual ambiguity

Chapter IX: Gide: masks and sinthome

Chapter X: Three cases of sexual ambiguity in men

Conclusion: The sinthome is sexual


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Geneviève Morel is a psychoanalyst practicing in Paris and Lille. She is a member of the Association Lilloise pour la Psychanalyse et son Histoire and of the group Savoirs et Clinique. Her previous books include Sexual Ambiguities (Routledge).