Terry Eagleton: “Arbitrary Definitions of Normality”

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“Equally serious is the complaint that psychoanalysis as a medical practice is a form of oppressive social control, labelling individuals and forcing them to conform to arbitrary definitions of ‘normality’. This charge is in fact more usually aimed against psychiatric medicine as a whole: as far as Freud’s own views on ‘normality’ are concerned, the accusation is largely misdirected. Freud’s work showed, scandalously, just how ‘plastic’ and variable in its choice of objects libido really is, how so-called sexual perversions form part of what passes as normal sexuality, and how heterosexuality is by no means a natural or self-evident fact. It is true that Freudian psychoanalysis does usually work with some concept of a sexual ‘norm’; but this is in no sense given by Nature.”

-Terry Eagleton, Literary Theory: An Introduction

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