December Author of the Month: Katie Gentile

Katie Gentile, author of The Business of Being Made, is our Routledge Mental Health Author of the Month for December! Read our exclusive interview and learn more about her fantastic new book!

The Business of Being Made is the first book to critically analyze assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs) from a transdisciplinary perspective integrating psychoanalytic and cultural theories. It is a ground-breaking collection exploring ARTs through diverse methods including interview research, clinical case studies, psychoanalytic based ethnography, and memoir. Gathering clinicians and researchers who specialize in this area, this book engages current research in psychoanalysis, sociology, anthropology, philosophy and debates in feminist, queer and cultural theory about affect, temporality, and bodies.

I began researching assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs) because I was troubled by how rapidly they had become a normal component of women’s health care. I found a number of interesting books and articles but almost all outside of psychoanalysis. I was stunned because it seemed to me psychoanalysis would have a great deal to say about ARTs. As I detail in the first chapters of the book, ARTs could be experienced as a perfect re-enactment of sexual abuse, yet there was little no discussion of this. ARTs are also a remarkable feat of selling hope. One rarely hears about repetitive failures and the dismal statistics. This affective maneuver cries out for psychoanalytic exploration. I also found it fascinating that psychoanalysis and psychotherapy articles rarely address male infertility, instead focusing interventions on the women. It seemed there was so much to explore around not just ARTs and the experience of them, but ARTs within the culture and within psychoanalysis. So my goal in writing and editing the book was to tell a story about ARTs that might convey the complexities of the process, and help clinicians and researchers remain remain critical and hopeful about the assistance these technologies offer and the ways they are distributed.

Despite their rising costs and stable and low success rates, ARTs are proliferating. So I wanted to write a book that critically analyzed ARTs from multiple perspectives, exploring the social constructions and personal experiences through cultural and psychoanalytic theories. Although this is an edited collection, the main thesis I expand upon in the book is that ARTs have become a complex form of playing with time, attempting to manufacture a hopeful future in the midst of growing global uncertainty. This theoretical stance about anxiety and time and denial/disavowal, frames the contributor chapters that include a psychoanalytic memoir of male infertility, clinical work with transgender, gay and lesbian patients creating new Oedipal constellations of family, research on the experiences of egg donors, a case study of successful but conflicted egg donation, the experiences of ongoing failures and how people decide to stop trying, and a psychoanalytic ethnography of a neonatal intensive care unit caring for many babies born from these technologies and the parents who arrive haggard from years of failed ART attempts only to hold on to tenuous life. These are all aspects of ARTs that are often left unanalyzed.

I wanted to convey the ambivalence of these technologies without simplifying their complicated consequences for the bodies of individuals, the family, cultures, and our planet.

Katie Gentile is Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies and Director of the Gender Studies Program at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. She is the author of Creating bodies: Eating disorders as self-destructive survival (Routledge), editor of the Genders and Sexualities in Minds and Cultures book series, also from Routledge, and co-editor of the journal Studies in Gender and Sexuality.

Katie Gentile's Website

The Business of Being Made

  • The Business of Being Made

    The temporalities of reproductive technologies, in psychoanalysis and culture

    Edited by Katie Gentile

    The Business of Being Made is the first book to critically analyze assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs) from a transdisciplinary perspective integrating psychoanalytic and cultural theories. It is a ground-breaking collection exploring ARTs through diverse methods including interview research,…

    Paperback – 2015-12-17
    Routledge
    Genders & Sexualities in Minds & Cultures

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