Research off the couch: Revisiting the transsexual conundrum

Lemma, Alessandra (2012) Research off the couch: Revisiting the transsexual conundrum. Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, 26 (4). pp. 263-281. ISSN 0266-8734

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Abstract/Book Review

This paper outlines the findings of a qualitative study involving interviews with eight transsexual individuals who had volunteered to take part in a television (TV) documentary about transsexuality. The participants were interviewed before taking part in the documentary and after its screening on national TV. The author proposes that for either biological and/or psychological reasons, some transsexual individuals experience early on a profound and disturbing incongruence at the level of the bodily self. In turn, this experience of incongruity is not contingently mirrored by primary attachment figures and remains unmentalized, thus disrupting self-coherence. In an attempt to restore self-coherence, the individual searches for the ‘right’ body that is anticipated to relieve the felt incongruity. The way this modified body relieves the incongruity is through the certainty it imparts that the image in the ‘mirror’ will match the subjective experience of the body. In this study, the experience of being mirrored through the group process during filming and the audience's response to the TV series, which was very positive, appeared to be associated with an attenuation in the urgency with which planned body modifications were being discussed post-TV screenings.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Attachment, Body Modification, Body Image, Mentalizing, Mirroring, Transsexuality
Subjects: Sex Psychology > Gender Identity
Department/People: Adult and Forensic Services
Depositing User: Ms Linda Dolben
Date Deposited: 31 Mar 2015 09:48
Last Modified: 09 Feb 2016 10:28
URI: http://repository.tavistockandportman.ac.uk/id/eprint/863

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