Psychoanalytic Takes on the Cinema
Discussion of the film XXY(2007)
Director: Lucia Puenzo
After a chance encounter on the street, a woman tried to encourage a pregnant domestic abuse victim to see help.
Discussant: Helen DeVinney, PsyD
Date: April 26th, 2024
Time: 4:00 pm – 5:30 pm
This presentation will consider how Lucia Puenzo’s XXY imagines a world where an intersex child, Alex, is allowed to exist without a need to constantly take up definition and legibility in order to be legitimate. With the family in Uruguay in a kind of social retreat, Alex simply exists, as opposed to her existence being presented as an inherent burden or dilemma. The film carefully subverts the male gaze to offer Alex a subjectivity independent of the viewer’s gratification and curiosity. The film also provides an opportunity to consider how the autonomy of an intersex child can be supported or stymied by their parents’ ability to tolerate uncertainty and to challenge their own gender anxiety. The film presents an opportunity to consider how psychoanalysis can also uphold or challenge the male gaze, confront or collude with anxieties regarding the categories and stability of gender, and encourage liberation or compliance when working with intersex patients and/or their parents/caregivers.
Discussant: Helen DeVinney, PsyD (she/her) was writing her dissertation in English when she realized that practicing psychoanalytically-informed psychology would allow her to better blend critical theory, self-inquiry, and social justice as a lived practice. She completed both her Psy.D. and postdoctoral training at The George Washington University’s Professional Psychology Program before joining its core faculty. She has written and presented on the intersections of psychoanalysis and issues of gender, sexuality, race, and ability, and she maintains a strong academic and clinical interest in the lived sequelae of what is termed trauma, as well as linking trauma explicitly to systems of oppression. helen has a private practice in Washington, DC, where she is active in exploring with patients the roles of coloniality, cultural norms and identity when considering what is termed abnormal or pathological or symptomatic, particularly as it relates to challenging the white cishet ableist imperialist patriarchy.