Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

A psychoanalytical exploration of feminine virginity: From Freud's taboo to Lacan's myth
by McKenna, Cecile Gouffrant, Psy.D., California Institute of Integral Studies, 2015, 135; 3712682
Abstract (Summary)

This theoretical study seeks to continue the work initiated by Freud in 1918 on the taboo of virginity by assessing (a) the place of virginity in Lacan's theory on femininity and (b) the question of whether virginity can be considered a myth in Lacanian terms. Feminine virginity is the object of this research, with a focus on heterosexual feminine virginity in contemporary U.S. culture. The approach selected is psychoanalytical and uses the theory of Jacques Lacan, a 20th-century French psychoanalyst. As Lacan never refers to virginity or to the Freudian taboo of virginity, his work offers a space for new research.

Virginity is presented in its historical context, followed by a recounting of the various proofs of virginity utilized—to demonstrate the lack of scientific accuracy. A review of current information disseminated in the U.S. media on the topic of virginity provides an account of two movements in fierce opposition. It is then proposed that virginity is a cultural concept, and the review of literature continues with an assessment of virginity in psychoanalysis. Freud's work on taboo and his article "The Virginity Taboo" (Freud, 1918/2006c) set the stage for a total of six psychoanalytical papers that address feminine virginity. The theoretical tools used for this research consist of Freud's greatest contribution, the unconscious, and his work on feminine sexuality. Lacan's psychoanalytical project is presented in its historical context, and concepts relevant to this study are defined. Further, an elaboration of the role and purpose of myths in psychoanalysis, with a review of the contributions from Freud, Lévi-Strauss, and Lacan, provides the basis for the discussion.

This research led to two major conclusions. First, virginity plays no role in sexual difference in Lacanian theory; to the contrary, it negates sexual difference. Second, virginity is a myth that refers to the impossible response to the Other's desire. Virginity belongs to the imaginary, inasmuch as it is a semblance placed over feminine jouissance in the failed attempt to inscribe the feminine all into the symbolic, under the phallic function.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Puhakka, Kaisa
Commitee: Nobus, Dany
School: California Institute of Integral Studies
Department: Clinical Psychology
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-B 76/11(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Cultural anthropology, Philosophy, Psychology
Keywords: Feminine virginity, Freud, Lacan, Myth, Psychoanalysis, Taboo
Publication Number: 3712682
ISBN: 978-1-321-89672-5
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