Inaccessible Masturbation, Impossible Mourning: Collective Melancholia, the Prohibition on Female Sexual Subjects in India, and Masturbation Fantasy as a Zone of the Strange

Psychoanal Rev. 2015 Dec;102(6):803-26. doi: 10.1521/prev.2015.102.6.803.


This paper explores a subjective experience-and identification-that a cohort of Indian women identifies as "home." This experience of "home" provides an attachment to a collective melancholia that keeps in place a prohibited female sexual subjectivity. The paper provides a brief historical overview of the prohibition of female sexual subjectivity and erotic agency in India. Following this, it discusses women's masturbation fantasies that illustrate the toggle between women's permitted and prohibited identifications. A clinical case example is presented to illustrate the hopelessness and mourning inherent in the psychoanalytic journey into subjectivity, a journey involving a departure from a shared cultural history.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Depressive Disorder / psychology*
  • Fantasy*
  • Female
  • Grief*
  • Humans
  • India
  • Masturbation / psychology*
  • Sexual Behavior / psychology