Queer children and LGBT youth often continue to find in the psychotherapeutic setting and the clinical literature an ill-prepared and even aversive reception. Suicidality among such children draws especially sharp attention to the need for better alternatives to current treatment modalities—the focus here is chiefly on the relational area, with its emphasis on the coupling norm and attachment theory—and, more broadly, for the further comprehensive development of queer- and LGBT-affirmative psychoanalytic theory and practice. In advocating for at-risk queer children, I also argue that the queer child is a meaningful transferential figure for the improved life-chances of psychoanalysis itself and for the enhanced role of psychoanalytic theory and practice in the realm of social transformation.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
American Psychiatric Association (2013) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edn. Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Association. dsm.psychiatryonline.org, accessed 5 August 2014.
Anderson, Cooper 360 Degrees. (2011) The sissy boy experiment. CNN News. 7,8,9 June.
Benjamin, J. (1998) Shadow of the Other: Intersubjectivity and Gender in Psychoanalysis. New York: Routledge.
Berlant, L. (2007) Slow death: (Sovereignty, obesity, lateral agency). Critical Inquiry 33(4): 754–780.
Bersani, L. and Phillips, A. (2008) Intimacies. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
Borinsky, A. (2011) California love story. n+1 12: 143–155.
Brady, M. (2011) “Sometimes we are prejudiced against ourselves”: Internalized and external homophobia in the treatment of an adolescent boy. Contemporary Psychoanalysis 47(4): 458–479.
Bromberg, P. (2011) The Shadow of the Tsunami and the Growth of the Relational Mind. New York, NY: Routledge.
Cavitch, M. (2013) Irregulars. Contemporary Psychoanalysis 49(3): 410–419.
Cheuvront, J. (2010) Life-long coupled relationships and psychoanalysis: Reconsidering developmental milestones and measures of normality in clinical theory. International Journal of Psychoanalytic Self Psychology 5(1): 37–58.
Cohen-Kettenis, P.T., Owen, A., Kaijser, V.G., Bradley, S.J. and Zucker, K.J. (2003) Demographic characteristics, social competence, and behavior problems in children with gender identity disorder: A cross-national, cross-clinic comparative analysis. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology 31(1): 41–53.
Cole, G.W. (2005) Categories as symptoms: Conceptions of love in the psychoanalytic relationship. Psychoanalytic Quarterly 74(4): 977–987.
Corbett, K. (2001) More life: Centrality and marginality in human development. Psychoanalytic Dialogues 11(3): 313–335.
Corbett, K. (2009a) Boyhood femininity, gender identity disorder, masculine presuppositions, and the anxiety of regulation. Psychoanalytic Dialogues 19(4): 353–370.
Corbett, K. (2009b) Boyhoods: Rethinking Masculinities. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
Drescher, J. and Byne, W. (2012) Introduction to the special issue on “The treatment of gender dysphoric/gender variant children and adolescents”. Journal of Homosexuality 59(3): 295–300.
Ehrensaft, D. (2007) Raising girlyboys: A parent’s perspective. Studies in Gender and Sexuality 8(3): 269–302.
Ehrensaft, D. (2012) From gender identity disorder to gender identity creativity: True gender self child therapy. Journal of Homosexuality 59(3): 337–56.
Florio, G. (1998) Slaying spurs debate on hate crime. The Philadelphia Inquirer. 13 October A01.
Fonagy, P. (2009) Psychosexuality and psychoanalysis: An overview. In: P. Fonagy, R. Krause and M. Leuzinger-Bohleber (eds.) Identity, Gender, and Sexuality: 150 Years after Freud. London: International Psychoanalytic Association, pp. 1–19.
Foucault, M. (1977) Language, Counter-Memory, Practice: Selected Essays and Interviews. Translated by D. F. Bouchard and S. Simon. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
Freud, S. (1951) Letter to an American mother. American Journal of Psychiatry 107(10): 787.
Frosch, D. (2008) Death of a transgender woman is called a hate crime. The New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com, 2 August, accessed 28 February 2015.
Gelé, K. et al (2012) Emerging views on gender and sexuality: Celebrating twenty years of new perspectives on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans people. Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association 60(5): 949–967.
Goldner, V. (2011) Trans: Gender in free fall. Psychoanalytic Dialogues 21(2): 159–171.
Hardt, M. and Negri, A. (2009) Commonwealth. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Harris, A. (2005) Gender as Soft Assembly. Hillsdale, NJ: Analytic Press.
Hart, A. (2009) Analytic safety through the analyst’s availability as a subject. In: B. Willock, R. Curtis and L. Bohm (eds.) Taboo or Not Taboo? Forbidden Thoughts, Forbidden Acts in Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy. London: Karnac, pp. 267–289.
Isay, R. (2009) Being Homosexual: Gay Men and Their Development. New York, NY: Vintage Books.
Itaborahy, L.P. and Zhu, J. (2013) State-Sponsored homophobia, a world survey of laws: Criminalisation, protection and recognition of same-sex love. Brussels: International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA), http://www.refworld.org/docid/519b6c2f4.html, accessed 2 August 2014.
Karch, D.L., Logan, J., McDaniel, D.D., Floyd, C.F. and Vagi, K.J. (2013) Precipitating circumstances of suicide among youth aged 10-17 years by sex. Journal of Adolescent Health 53(1): S51–S53.
Khan, M. (1963) The concept of cumulative trauma. Psychoanalytic Study of the Child 18: 286–306.
Kiersky, S. (2005) Revenge and forgiveness in psychoanalysis: Commentary on Stephen Wangh’s “revenge and forgiveness in Laramie, Wyoming”. Psychoanalytic Dialogues 15(5): 771–778.
King, M.L. Jr. (1958, 1986) The power of nonviolence. In: J.M. Washington (ed.) A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr. New York, NY: HarperCollins, pp. 12–15.
King, M. (2011) The queer relationship between psychoanalysts and their gay and lesbian patients. Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy 25(4): 308–318.
Kupers, T. (2009) The turn away from social activism in psychoanalysis. Journal of the American Academy of Psychoanalysis and Dynamic Psychiatry 37(4): 581–586.
Lacan, J. (1992) The paradox of jouissance. In: J.-A. Miller (ed.) The Ethics of Psychoanalysis, 1959-1960: The Seminar of Jacques Lacan, Book VII. Translated by D.Porter. New York, NY: Norton, pp. 163–240.
Lewes, K. (2003) Homosexuality, homophobia, and gay-friendly psychoanalysis. In: D. Moss (ed.) Hating in the First Person Plural: Psychoanalytic Essays on Racism, Homophobia, Misogyny, and Terror. New York, NY: Other Press, pp. 161–195.
Mitchell, S. (2002) Can Love Last? The Fate of Romance Over Time. New York, NY: W. W. Norton.
Nelson, A. (2001) Vigil held to remember slain gay teen-ager. Lincoln Journal Star. 7 September, p. B1.
Orbach, S. (2002) The Impossibility of Sex: Stories of the Intimate Relationship Between Therapist and Patient. New York: Touchstone.
Rose, J. (1982) Introduction 2. In: J. Mitchell and J. Rose (eds.) Feminine Sexuality: Jacques Lacan and the École Freudienne. New York: Norton, pp. 27–57.
Rutter, M., Kreppner, J. and Sonuga-Barke, E. (2009) Attachment insecurity, disinhibited attachment, and attachment disorders: Where do research findings leave the concepts? Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 50(5): 529–543.
Saketopoulou, A. (2011a) Queer children, new objects; the place of futurity in Loewald’s thinking. DIVISION/Review: A Quarterly Psychoanalytic Forum 1: 38–39.
Saketopoulou, A. (2011b) Minding the gap: Intersections between gender, race, and class in work with gender variant children. Psychoanalytic Dialogues 21(2): 192–209.
Saketopoulou, A. (2014a) Mourning the body as bedrock: Developmental considerations in treating transsexual patients analytically. Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association 65(5): 773–806.
Saketopoulou, A. (2014b) Perversion’s aspiration. Paper presented at Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis, New York University, NYC, 21 November.
Salamon, G. (2010) Assuming a Body: Transgender and Rhetorics of Materiality. New York: Columbia University Press.
Samuels, A. (2010) Shadows of the therapy relationship. European Journal of Psychotherapy and Counselling 12(3): 207–215.
Schwartz, D. (2012) Listening to children imagining gender: Observing the inflation of an idea. Journal of Homosexuality 59(3): 460–479.
Sedgwick, E. (1991) How to bring your kids up gay. Social Text 29: 18–27.
Smith, E. (2014) Jessica Dutro murder trial: motive for Tigard killing was 4-year-old’s perceived homosexuality, prosecutors say. The Oregonian, 27 March, http://www.oregonlive.com, accessed 25 February 2015.
Smothers, R. (2003) Man charged with bias crime for girl’s killing in Newark. The New York Times, 25 November, p. B8.
Spitzer, R.L. (2003) Can some gay men and lesbians change their sexual orientation? 200 participants reporting a change from homosexual to heterosexual orientation. Archives of Sexual Behavior 32(5): 403–417.
Stern, D. (1997) Unformulated Experience: From Dissociation to Imagination in Psychoanalysis. Hillsdale, NJ: Analytic Press.
Stockton, K. (2009) The Queer Child; or, Growing Sideways in the Twentieth Century. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.
Surdin, A. (2008) Gay youth’s slaying spurs call for tolerance. The Washington Post, 29 March, p. A02.
Tan, S. (2011) Teenager struggled with bullying before taking his life. Buffalo News, 20 September, p. B1.
Waidzunas, T. (2011) Young, gay, and suicidal: Dynamic nominalism and the process of defining a social problem with statistics. Science, Technology and Human Values. Prepublished March 23, doi:10.1177/0162243911402363.
Wronge, Y.S. and Reang, P. (2002) Suspects in boy’s killing will face hate crime charge. Contra Costa Times. 19 October A12.
Zucker, K. and Spitzer, R. (2005) Was the gender identity disorder of childhood diagnosis introduced into DSM-III as a backdoor maneuver to replace homosexuality? A historical note. Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy 31(1): 31–42.
Many thanks to Lauren Berlant, J. P. Cheuvront, Diana Fuss, Robert Grossmark, Lynne Layton, Heather Love, Maggie Robbins, Mari Ruti, Avgi Saketopoulou, and Dawn Skorczewski for their generous and transformative readings of various drafts.
About this article
Cite this article
Cavitch, M. “Do you love me?”: The question of the queer child of psychoanalysis. Psychoanal Cult Soc 21, 256–274 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1057/pcs.2015.22