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COMPULSORY HETEROSEXUALITY AND PSYCH/ATROPHY:
SOME THOUGHTS ON LESBIAN FEMINIST THEORY

By Betsy Ettore

Reference: ETTORE, B. (1985) "Compulsory Heterosexuality and Psych/Atrophy: Some Thoughts on Lesbian Feminist Theory" in Women's Studies International Forum. Volume: 8, Number: 5, pp. 421-428.

Introduction || A Lesbian Feminist View of Psychiatry and Compulsory Heterosexuality
Lesbianism and Psychiatry: Sapphic Meanings vs Psych/Atrophy || Discarding the 'Sexual' Label || Resisting Reversal
Erasing the Victim Role || Social Change not Individual Solutions || Psychic Deliverance and Amazonian Asylum
Conclusion: Finding A Reason? || References


Copyright (c) Betsy Ettore, 1985
Research Sociologist, Institute of Psychiatry, Addiction Research Unit


Synopsis

The patriarchal features of psychiatric practice have received scant attention by feminists today. This paper presents a critique of psychiatry and places this critique within lesbian feminist theory. Drawing on Mary Daly's ideas as elaborated in her 'ovular' work Gyn/Ecology (1979), the methodology I use is an unearthing of feminist meanings and an exposition of feminist practices which are necessary to understand the role of Psych/Atrophy vis-à-vis lesbianism today. I argue that for lesbians, as for all women, self-healing is a feminist process which exists in opposition to psychiatry's functioning as the primary male, social injunction to heal souls. With a view to challenging this psychiatric conception of healing souls, we are able to create five specific strategies which direct Lesbian energy to a more creative view of ourselves as women. Discarding the sexual label (1); resisting 'reversal' (2); erasing the Victim Role (3); working towards social change and not individual solutions (4) and delivering themselves through the 'Amazonian Asylum' (5), lesbians will help to work for lesbian liberation. These strategies will help them/us not only to create new images of themselves/ourselves as women, but also to challenge the heterosexist structure of society upon which psychiatric practice is based.

Introduction

In popular feminist folklore, there is an expression, 'A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle'. As an introduction to this paper and as an addition auction to this folklore, one might also say: 'Lesbianism without psychiatry is like a cat without a skateboard' or 'Lesbianism without psychiatry is like ontology without motor accidents'.

Lesbians and psychiatrists are as different as chalk and cheese and yet, both groups of individuals live in a society where the 'institutional and ideological domination of heterosexuality is a fundamental part of male supremacy'. (Bunch, 1978: p.180). For the majority, if not all psychiatrists, heterosexism, the institutional and ideological domination of heterosexuality as a fundamental part of male supremacy, is a necessary given, while for lesbian feminists, heterosexism with its functionaries, like psychiatrists who serve to eradicate the lesbian world and the lesbian way of thinking in that world is indeed problematic. In other words, if lesbians are feminists, their view of the heterosexist world is most probably totally different from - and furthermore opposed to - the view psychiatrists have of them, as lesbians, as well as the view psychiatrists have of the heterosexist world.

On the one hand, lesbian feminists would see themselves as women-identified, self-affirming and self-loving women. Lesbian feminists would assert that their primary identification with women gives them energy and that lesbians develop a positive sense of themselves by looking to other women for support rather than to men or (in relation to heterosexist structures) the family. On the other hand, psychiatrists would probably argue (whether consciously or unconsciously) that most 'normal' women (thus excluding lesbians) wouldn't be able to have that 'normal' level of self-love or self-affirmation. As Mary Daly suggests, to the extent that "They [psychiatrists] are successful, their female patients are paralysed by a lack of Self-Respect, for these doctors engender the debilitating disease of self-hatred" (Daly, 1979: p.230). Furthermore, psychiatrists see lesbianism as a 'disease entity'. They view lesbians as 'over sexed', 'wanting to be men', 'penis envious', 'unfeminine', etc.

The time has come for psychiatrists' misconceptions about women, particularly lesbians, and for anti-feminist psychiatric practice to end. Littlewood and Lipsedge (1982) point out that a recent survey on psychiatrists in Great Britain reveals that psychiatrists regard themselves as more radical than other doctors, especially in the areas of religion and politics. Why don't psychiatrists take this 'self-assumed radicalism' into the area of lesbianism? The answer is most probably not that psychiatrists are unable to change their attitudes towards lesbians but that they don't want to change. Psychiatrists won't change their attitudes because assuming a feminist or radical definition of lesbianism would challenge the whole patriarchal, heterosexist, clinical world from which their power emerges. Psychiatrists have a vested interest in helping to maintain conflicting social images and social definitions between what is 'normal' and what is 'pathological'. The maintenance of the conflict around these issues is the heart of the psychiatric profession - it is how it beats! For instance it is in psychiatrists' interest to have the power to say not only what is 'normal woman' or who is a 'pathological' or 'deviant' woman but also what is normal sex for both men and women. Psychiatrists have the moral responsibility to control certain forms of social weakness, ie; mental illness, and apparent causes for social vulnerability, ie; depression, neurosis, etc. This responsibility more often than not extends to women help-seekers. The Black Health Workers and Patients Group tells us that psychiatrists as 'the guardians of morals' established wide ranging theories about women, for example concerning 'their small brains and aptitude for hysteria' (The Black Health Workers and Patients Group, 1983: p.53). Within this oppressive view, lesbians were seen to be 'moral degenerates' (Fassler, 1979: p.239).

One of the strengths lesbians have in relation to psychiatry is that historically, the lesbian world existed long before the profession of psychiatry ever began. Over the last years, feminist writers have been gradually unearthing a rich lesbian heritage. As more lesbians become aware of their unique heritage, they are able to discover, what Mary Daly calls, 'the Sister Self', the original intuition of integrity. As Lesbians truly search for their 'Sister Selves', they find that 'Remembering is the Remedy' (Daly, 1979: p.338) and that psychiatrists have never been and are not necessary for lesbian liberation.

A Lesbian Feminist View of Psychiatry and Compulsory Heterosexuality

The purpose of this paper is to present a lesbian feminist critique of psychiatry. It could be called a meta-patriarchal journeying into a field which 'confronts old molds/models of question-asking by being itself an other way of thinking/speaking' (Daly, 1979: p.xiii).

Before journeying on, let us ask ourselves the question: 'What is lesbian feminist theory?' In my view feminist theory is a contemporary political theory which extends the traditional feminist analysis of sexual politics to an analysis of sexuality itself, as it is structured into our society today. Furthermore, lesbian feminist theory as a critique of male supremacy and heterosexism is 'a perspective, analysis and commitment that can be embraced by anyone gay or straight, female or male, etc'. (Bunch, 1978: p.180-181). Two areas in the development of lesbian theory are of particular importance:
(1) that the initial ideas of lesbian feminist theory can be found in early radical feminist writing.
(2) that the current basis of lesbian feminist theory is represented by what is termed the 'Compulsory Heterosexual Perspective.'

Firstly, early radical thinking is the belief that patriarchy is the primary system of power relations which not only reflects but also structures human life as we know it and experience it today. Adrienne Rich gives us a clear picture of the roots of the radical feminist critique of patriarchy when she says: 'For the first time in history a pervasive recognition is developing that the patriarchal system cannot answer for itself; that it is not inevitable, that it is transitory; and that the cross-cultural, global determination of women by men can no longer be either denied or defended. When we acknowledge this, we tear open the relationship at the core of all power-relationships, a tangle of lust, violence, possession, fear, conscious longing, unconscious hostility, sentiment: the sexual understructure of social and political forms. For the first time we are in a position to look around at the kingdom of the Fathers and take its measure. What we see is the one system which recorded civilization has never actively challenged and which has been so universal as to seem a law of nature'. (Rich, 1976: p.39). For Rich, as for many feminists, patriarchy is experienced as the sexual understructure of all social and political forms in society. Patriarchy saturates all of human life. Within this view, biology and socialisation become the source of sexual oppression.

Secondly, the current strain of lesbian feminist theory, the ‘Compulsory Heterosexuality Perspective', has a critical focus on the institution and ideology of heterosexuality itself. This perspective grew from dissatisfaction with the somewhat limiting, one dimensional analysis of radical feminism and this perspective is outlined in the work of Charlotte Bunch (1978) and the article, 'Compulsory heterosexuality and the lesbian existence' by Adrienne Rich (1979).

In an article entitled, 'Lesbian feminist theory', Katherine Arnup presents a clear synthesis of the ideas behind the compulsory heterosexuality perspective. She says: "The heterosexism perspective challenges the entire notion of choice in the area of sexuality. No longer can we talk about lesbianism as if it were the innate sexual orientation of a small number of women. Neither can we talk about heterosexuality as if it were the normal mode of relating. Rather we must see heterosexuality itself as a political institution which has been maintained through a whole cluster of forces within which women have been convinced that marriage and a sexual orientation towards men are inevitable if unsatisfying or oppressive components of their lives." (Arnup, 1983: p.54). Charlotte Bunch reflects a similar analysis when she states: "All of society's institutions are based on the assumption that every woman either is or wants to be bonded to a man both economically and emotionally and that she depend on the idea that heterosexuality is both the only and natural and superior form of human sexuality" (Bunch, 1978; p.180).

The concept of compulsory heterosexuality has broad implications for feminist theory because it enables all women to explore the pressures under which we all function in our day to day lives. It helps us to examine the forces which operate to determine our sexuality. Let us continue on our journey by, first, clarifying the feminist definitions of lesbianism and psychiatry and then by moving on to a discussion of the implications of these definition in contemporary society.

Lesbianism and Psychiatry: Sapphic meanings vs Psych/Atrophy

For feminists, the words lesbianism and psychiatry need to be re-defined in non-traditional ways in the light of our experiences as women. The word 'lesbianism' rather than relating to a strictly sexual meaning, refers to an all-encompassing view of women as women-identified or as women creating their Female Selves. Lesbianism is, in reality, a ‘social vehicle' for women; a feminist process whereby women gather a greater sense of self/sensual awareness through the process of self-healing or self-affirmation. The actual root meaning of the word, 'Lesbian', comes from the Greek word 'Lesbios', meaning 'one of the island of Lesbos' and the English Oxford Dictionary also includes the meaning ‘from the home of Sappho'. Sappho was a well-known Greek poetess who lived during the 3rd century B.C. on the island of Lesbos in the Aegean Sea. Historically, Sappho has been seen as a lesbian who herself advocated lesbianism as a way of life for women. Whether or not this is true, Sappho set up a sexually-segregated community of women on Lesbos and she, furthermore, helped to stir these women's imaginations to a heightened awareness of their sensuality. One feminist writer, Judith P. Hallett, argues that an understanding of Sappho and her work has to be seen within the historical context from which she emerged. Hallett says: "That Sappho's verses were basically intended as public, rather than personal, statements, that they aimed at instilling sensual awareness and sexual self-esteem in young women, and that even those written in the first person may not express her own feelings seem more obvious if we consider other examples of poetry from a similar social and cultural milieu written in a generation prior to hers". (Hallett, 1976: p.461). It appears that Sappho's influence had more to do with stirring women's sensuality than with advocating traditional lesbian practice and it is a great pity that this influence has been obscured in history. Blanche Wiesen Cook whose work focuses on the cultural tradition of intense female bonding, provides us with a possible reason for the obscuring of Sappho's real influence. She says: "'Entirely obscured from view were the many networks, both contemporary and historical, of egalitarian and nurturing friendships among creative and publicly active women. Like the historical denial of women's history generally the historical denial of the vast range of women loving women has not been an accident. In a hostile world in which women are not supposed to survive except in relation with and in service to men, entire communities of women were simply erased. History tends to bury what it seeks to reject." (Wiesen Cook, 1979: p.720). In other words although history bestowed a certain level of notoriety upon Sappho, it falsely reports that she was an advocator of traditional lesbianism rather than a stirrer of women's feminist potential. Perhaps, the creation of a women's community in the 3rd century B.C. was an all too threatening recognition for the male world. Nevertheless, as lesbianism becomes defined as a ‘choice women make in response to a sexist society' (Weitz, 1984), or as women creating their Female Selves traditional definitions mat disappear and perhaps, all women will see that what we need is not only an end to lesbian oppression but also the freedom of choice for all women.

Within a feminist analysis, the term, 'psychiatry' is 'Amazingly Deceptive' in relation to women. Psychiatry comes from a coupling of the Greek words, psyche and iatros, which literally mean, 'soul healer'. Since feminist theory asserts that only women can heal themselves, the idea of psychiatrists as being soul healers is meaningless. As Mary Daly states: "The reign of healing is within the Self, within the Selves seen by the Self and seeing the Self. The remedy is not to turn back but to become the healing environment". (Daly, 1978: p.339).

In a similar vein of thought, Nor Hall emphasises how healing for women must always be sought in the wound itself. She suggests that the female void cannot be cured by conjunction with the male, but rather by internal conjunction, by an integration of its own parts, by a remembering or a putting back together of the mother daughter body (Hall, 1980: p.68).

Abandoning the term psychiatry, feminists may find it useful to use the word Psych/Atrophy as a more accurate term. In Psych/Atrophy we have a term which exposes how traditional psychiatry (and psychiatrists, traditionally, as what Daly would call, ‘mind gynaecologists') attempt to invade the Psyche or souls of women. Our new term for psychiatry, Psych/Atrophy comes from the Greek words, psyche and atrophia, meaning 'soul-atrophy' or 'not giving food to the soul'. Within a feminist framework, this root or radical definition of Psych/Atrophy provides us with a clearer understanding of how the profession of 'mind gynaecologists' or traditional psychiatrists operate in relation to women who search for their Female Selves and furthermore, how this profession obstructs, opposes and contradicts the feminist process of Self-Healing.

Thus far, this paper has been an excavation of the Unknown as well as exposition of the relevant areas of lesbian feminist theory. Let us journey on to some of the real conflicts between lesbians and psychiatrists. More specifically, to understand why and how lesbians are no longer psychiatric scapegoats but Revolting Hags (as Daly would suggest). Examining how lesbians are Revolting Hags vis-à-vis psychiatrists as 'soul starvers', I propose to examine five inter-related areas of lesbian feminist practice. They include: Discarding the 'sexual' label (1); Resisting Reversal (2); Erasing the Victim Role (3); Social Change not Individual Solutions (4); Psychic Deliverance and Amazonian Asylum (5).

1. Discarding the 'Sexual' Label

Many pre-feminist lesbians in search of an understanding of themselves sought out various psychological and psychiatric theories whether in their original or popularised versions. Very quickly, they discovered that lesbians (they) were 'the medical psychiatric scapegoats and that every homosexual act was a symptom of mental disease' (Szasz, 1971: p.272). Gradually lesbians discarded the 'disease' label imposed upon them by the psychiatric profession and they (lesbians) attempted to find a meaningful frame of reference for life in a hostile society. It is interesting to know that even today the International Classification of Diseases which is used as the primary means of justifying psychiatric diagnoses views lesbianism as a sexual deviation and disorder. Lesbianism is defined as a sexual deviation because 'it is an abnormal sexual inclination or behaviour… which does not serve approved social and biological purposes'. (World Health Organisation, 1977: p.196). For psychiatrists today, lesbianism is defined and diagnosed as a sexual disorder or a mental disease. In recent years, this view has been challenged by lesbian feminist theorists and they argue that there are probably more similarities between heterosexual women and lesbians than meet the eyes of psychiatrists. Indeed in lesbian works, such as Tanner's, The Lesbian Couple (1978), Wolf's, The Lesbian Community (1979), Klaich's Woman plus Woman, Krieger's The Mirror Dance (1983), Martin and Lyon's LesbianlWomen (1972), Abbott and Love's, Sappho was a Right on Woman (1972), Stewart-Park and Cassidy's We're Here (1977), as well as my own work Lesbians, Women and Society (1980), we see how within feminist theory, contemporary lesbians have shifted their definition of lesbianism from a sexually focused one to a women-focused one and placed it in a socio-political context.

As more lesbians challenge the traditional view of psychiatrists, they break down the false polarisation which exists between heterosexual women and lesbians. As Mary Daly suggests that Revolting Hags become 'disposed and enspirited they create themselves and new space: semantic, cognitive, symbolic, psychic and physical spaces' (Daly, 1979: p.340). In effect, lesbians have discarded the 'sexual' label pinned upon them by psychiatrists. This process of discarding the 'sexual' is really a strategy to combat male mystification through the false polarisation of women by dividing them (women) into heterosexual and lesbian 'sexual' categories.

2. Resisting Reversal

Reversal, like false polarisation, is another form of male mystification and psychiatrists as enactors (par excellence) of this male supremacy role tell s that they (lesbians) really 'want to be men'; not (as proven by the experiences of lesbians) that they are women and closely bound to women. This process of covering up the real 'nature' of lesbianism and reversing the phenomenon is discussed in Faderman's expose of the effects of Kraft-Ebing's work on the writings of Radclyffe Hall.

Faderrnan tells us that Kraft-Ebing was a 19th century sexologist and psychiatrist whose work, Psychopathia Sexualis, published in 1882, put forward the idea that if a woman loves a woman, she must really be a man. These ideas had a profound effect upon Radclyffe Hall who was 'responsible for bringing the congenitalist theories to popular fiction and thereby disseminating them widely after they were no longer the most accepted theories among medical men' (Faderman, 1981: p.317). Although there are probably a minority of psychiatrists who would uphold the congenital invert theory today, many psychiatrists believe that lesbians want to be men (which is a variation on the congenital inversion theme). By mobilising their practice around these ideas, psychiatrists attempt to kill the Female Spirit or Female Selves in Lesbians. In addition, they play out their role of 'thought or mind police' (Heather, 1976: p.100) in relation to women. Lesbian feminist theory combats this 'mind policing' work of psychiatrists by seeing psychiatrists' moralising as a form of lesbian oppression and furthermore, by seeing 'lesbian oppression in many ways as emblematic of women's oppression' (Arnup, 1983: p.55). As Bunch tells us: "'We need to discover what lesbian consciousness means for any woman just as we struggle to understand what class or race consciousness means for women of any race or class". (Bunch, 1975: p.52).

3. Erasing the Victim Role

In their discussion of ethnic minorities and psychiatry in Great Britain, Littlewood and Lipsedge (both psychiatrists) make some telling comments about the origins of the psychiatric profession they say: "The modern psychiatrist is a descendant of the 19th Century mental asylum keeper… He was a paternalistic figure whose popular image has been described as both divine and satanic: divine because of his power over the sick and satanic because of his demonic knowledge" (Littlewood and Lipsedge, 1982: p.22).

These authors go on to say that the physical coercion of the pre-psychiatric hospital (which Scull calls museums of madness) was replaced by moral authority: the ideal psychiatrist was a 'father to his children'.

As we see, women right from the beginning of the psychiatric era have been at a disadvantage in relation to psychiatrists who were expected to be superior beings - either gods or devils. These ideas expose the real nature of psychiatry as Psych/Atrophy. Psych/Atrophy in practice is a male-instigated degradation of victims and, as Daly points out, 'within this type of degradation, there is a hidden paradigm, the Female as Other, as Victim', (Daly, 1979: p.332).

In an article entitled, 'The rapists - lesbians and psychiatrists', an anonymous lesbian feminist, writing in the feminist classic, Our Bodies, Ourselves (Boston Women's Health Book Collective, 1971: pp.63-65) described how she was placed in a Victim Role by psychiatrists. She states: "Doctors told me I was utterly dependent, had anxiety neurosis, was a borderline schizophrenic and had a poor prognosis." (Anonymous, 1971: p.64).

Recalling how she had been treated, she offers two main reasons for this negative treatment by psychiatrists: (a) she failed to conform to psychiatrist's idea of what a woman's life should be and (b) she believed more in herself than in their (psychiatrist's) theories about her.

In a similar way of thinking, Jill Johnston in Lesbian Nation discusses that the emphasis in psychiatry for lesbians is on 'conformity and adjustment rather than Liberation' (Johnston, 1973: p.189). By victimising lesbian women, psychiatry favours individual solutions rather than social change and by inhibiting this change, psychiatrists attempt to control and thwart lesbian consciousness among women.

4. Social Change not Individual Solutions

Earlier, in this paper, I have implied that by placing lesbians in the victim role as 'non-conformist', 'sick' and 'deviant women', psychiatrists inhibit social change for women and, in turn, for society at large. Psychiatrists are not only agents of the compulsory heterosexist order but also agents of social control. In this context it is interesting to note that in a recent editorial in the British Journal of Addiction it is stated that 'psychiatrists should be social change agents' (by another psychiatrist of professorial distinction) (Editorial, 1983: p.3). This type of thinking is totally 'out of sync' or out of 'Psyche' within lesbian feminist theory as well as within any critical social theory. Most psychiatrists have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo and the established social order which is patriarchal. Clearly, the purpose of any social control agent, such as a psychiatrist, is to stabilise the kind of society which now exists and thus prevent it from changing. Heather describes how psychiatry contributes to this effort in three particular ways:
'(a) Psychiatry serves the industrial machine by repairing its broken parts and putting them back, literally, into working order. In wartime, psychiatry's task is to get the shell-shocked back to the front line; in peace time it has the analogous task of returning the producer/consumer to the work bench, the kitchen sink and the supermarket.
(b) Psychiatry reinforces the increasingly restricted range of human possibilities demanded by society by legislating what is normal, sane, allowable behaviour and what is not.
(c) Psychiatry serves the function of disguising the casualties of a harsh competitive and callous social system by portraying them as consequences of individual psychopathology.' (Heather, 1976: p.101).

As we can see, to imply that psychiatrists are social change agents rather than agents of social control is not only misleading but also a distortion of their real social function. Within lesbian feminist theory, psychiatrists could never be viewed as social change agents and if so, only when compulsory heterosexuality and male supremacy is totally eliminated from society. At that time, there would be neither a need for the type of mind control which psychiatrists attempt to enact or the need for a rigid 'hanging on' to the established social order. Both of these needs characterise psychiatrists current role in society.

5. Psychic Deliverance and Amazonian Asylum

From the above discussion, we have seen that within a lesbian feminist framework psychiatrists fail in their role as 'soul healers' and that, in effect, they have been conniving to repress and depress Female Being and are indeed perpetuating Psych/Atrophy.

To the degree that lesbians have been possessed by the spirit of patriarchy, they have been slowly expiring psychically. It is not surprising that lesbians may become 'dispirited' that is 'depressed, downcast, lacking independent vigor and forcefulness' (Daly, 1979: p.340) in the face of Psych/Atrophy.

Lesbians not only need to heal themselves but also to deliver themselves from the debilitating images which, although officially mostly outdated today live on in people's minds and have a profound psychic effect. One of these images is the image of 'Evil', which as Faderman points out, was perpetuated by the non-aesthete writers of the 19th century such as Adolphe Belot, Alphonse Daudet, Emile Zola, Catulle Mendes and Guy de Maupassant (Faderman. 1981: pp.277-294).

That literary figures colluded with the early psychiatric profession to associate lesbianism with vice and unmitigated evil gave strength to that definition and to those images which have their vestiges in the contemporary world of pornography.

Lesbians as Victims of Psych/Atrophy could find real asylum neither in psychiatric asylums nor in patriarchal society hostile to their needs. The current response to psychiatry has been an active resistance to psychiatry's negative images of women. For all women, both lesbian and heterosexual, this response has been a self-healing and self-affirming process which is based on self-love and not the internalisation of self-hate. Lesbian Feminist Theory enables many lesbians to experience what I would term, the Fury of the Rage, as a real Amazonian Asylum. This type of Asylum of resistance and rage has been built up over centuries of being locked up, mis-labeled, burned as witches and having one's Spirit possessed and dissected by the psychiatric profession or their precursors. Once the rage is experienced, lesbians are no longer powerless, they create their own Asylum and they actively challenge the heterosexist structure and practices of society.

Conclusion: Finding A Reason?

My purpose in writing this paper has been to redefine or to re-search the concepts of lesbianism and psychiatry within lesbian feminist theory and to present these concepts within a lesbian feminist critique of Psych/Atrophy. I have examined the roots of lesbian feminist theory in an attempt to understand how compulsory heterosexuality (the view that heterosexuality is both the only natural and superior form of human behaviour for men and women) establishes the foundation for a lesbian feminist critique. Also, I have proposed to view lesbian feminist practice in relation to psychiatry and in relation to five strategies which relate to how Psych/Atrophy mystifies the experience of all women as Victim or the Other.

In conclusion, I would like to share a quote I found in Virginia Woolf's Moments of Being. In this moving verse, Woolf describes her recollections of one of many intense experiences in her life when she sees, in a profound sense, a flower bed near to her front door.

‘When I said about the flower, "That is the whole", I felt that I had made a discovery that I had put away in my mind something that I should go back to, to turn over and explore. It strikes me now that this was a profound difference. It was the difference in the first place between despair and satisfaction this difference I think arose from the fact that I was quite unable to deal with the pain of discovering that people hurt each other; that a man I had seen had killed himself. The sense of horror held me powerless. But in the case of the flower I found a reason; and was thus able to deal with the sensation. I was not powerless. I was conscious - if only at a distance that I should in time explain it.' (Woolf, 1976: p.83).
Over time, many lesbians have come to realise that they/we are not powerless but conscious. Whether or not the lives of particular lesbians have merged with the creation of unreason, we have found a reason. 1 think it is time psychiatrists accept this reason.

References

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