chapter  11
11 Pages

The Oedipus complex and perverse care-provision

A case history
ByOwen Dempsey

The care-provider may be incited by anticipatory care to depersonalise the patient thereby releasing any inhibitions from caring even when such care causes harm to the other. This may destabilise her or his subjectivity leading him or her to make his or her own law and to intervene for intervention’s sake in a perverse psychic structure.

Lacan’s ideas about the Oedipus complex and sexuation are used to describe the formation of individual’s very first, inaugural childhood subjectivity as resulting in a particular kind of relationship to symbolic social power.

Lacan’s theory of perversion is then used to show how this initial subjectivity formation can sometimes be disrupted and lead to the development of a perverse form of subjectivity.

A case history is described of an individual care-provider: this is based on a UK based breast surgeon who was imprisoned for twenty years in 2017 because of his transgressive care practices. This case, and its elaboration using Lacan’s theory of the Oedipus complex, supports the argument that anticipatory care incites perverse subjectivities in care-providers and perverse care provision.

This provides an example of the destabilising perversion constantly demanded by capitalism and identifies the personal potential dangers for, and exploitation by capitalism of, the desire of professional care-providers.