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SCIENTIFIC MEETING – Lacan’s View of Perversions: A Perverse Theory?

SCIENTIFIC MEETING - Lacan's View of Perversions: A Perverse Theory?

Presenter: Sergio Benvenuto

Saturday, November 21, 2020: 10:00 am – 12:00 pm

TPS Scientific Meeting: Open to all.

** DISTANCE PARTICIPATION ONLY – This Scientific Meeting is available via Zoom meeting only. Preregistration is required. Please RSVP via email at Please note that registration closes 48 hours prior to the meeting date.

First of all, the concept of perversion (today’s paraphilia) needs to be questioned: does it still have any significance?  And what is the connection between such diverse sexual acts and desires as the attraction for a woman’s shoe or for a pre-pubescent child, the pleasure of being humiliated by a woman, flashing one’s penis to a female stranger, or killing a prostitute?  Is it basically just our moral judgment according to which these are not acceptable, “normal” or “healthy” erotic desires?  Is it simply a cultural question, of what our actual culture considers “normal sexuality”?
Yet Lacan finds a unity among the various perverse desires (some classified as criminal by the penal code, and others as simply non-criminal “libertine games”) through the Freudian concept of Verleugnung, disavowal, which Freud had used in particular in his analysis of fetishism. Benvenuto will show how this form of negation—disawoval – can be applied to all of today’s so-called paraphilic forms.
Lacan considers perverse subjectivity (even without perverse behaviours) as a specific subjective structure, which he distinguishes from the other two principal structures: the neurotic structure (based on Verdrängung, repression) and the psychotic one (based on Verwerfung, forclosure).
Benvenuto will provide some clinical examples of fetishistic masochism in which he makes use of the Lacanian notion of perversion in a broad sense—giving, in turn, a certain interpretation of perverse desires, along the lines of the Lacanian clinic.
To explore this further, please refer to Sergio Benvenuto, What are Perversions? (Karnak, 2016)

Learning Objectives:

At the end of the meeting participants will be able to:

  1. To clarify the current understanding of Perversion.
  2. What is the role of “moral judgement” in defining Perversions.
  3. To show Lacan’s perspevctive on “fetishitic masochism”.
Sergio Benvenuto

Sergio Benvenuto is a researcher in psychology and philosophy at the National Research Council (CNR) in Rome, Italy, and a psychoanalyst. He is editor of the European Journal of Psychoanalysis and member of the Editorial Board of American Imago and Psychoanalytic Discourse (PSYAD). His publications in English include, among others, In Freud’s Tracks (New York: Aronson, 2008) (with A. Molino), nominated for Gradiva Award. Another one is What are Perversions? (London: Karnac, 2016) and the most recent – Conversations with Lacan. Seven Lectures for Understanding Lacan (London: Routledge, 2020).

The Scientific Meetings are eligible for Section 1 CME credits (0.5 credits/hour).

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