By Elizabeth A. Wilson
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Additional resources for Gut Feminism
The young woman Â� Â�doesn’t look for one of those yellowish Â�bottles into which she could put the pills. Rather, she feels that their loneliness and claustrophobia would be alleviated by being in her stomach—as if she understands that her gut and the psychic world are allied. Might there be more than one kind of “interior life” being documented Â�here? Psychological and psychoanalytic and psychiatric theories of depression draw on cognitive distortion, unconscious motivation, or neurochemical imbalance; rarely do they talk about bodily action in such a direct way.
Put another way, we could say that the belly is psychically alive to the infant. The first mind we have is a stomach-Â�mind. 8 Quoting Clifford Scott (a fellow Kleinian), Isaacs (1948) notes that “the adult way of regarding the body and the mind as two separate sorts of experience can certainly not hold true of the infant’s world. It is easier for adults to observe the Â�actual sucking than to remember or understand what the experience of sucking is to the infant, for whom there is no dichotomy of body and mind, but a single, undifferentiated experience of sucking and phantasying” (86).
Rather, biological data often look much more like they are describing networks of affinity where organic entities build their natuÂ�ral capacities through mutual, and often asymmetrical, relations with each other (I will elaborate on this in the next chapter in a discussion of “amphimixis”). Much of the recent turn to neuroscience in the humanities and social sciences has been so unappealing, it seems to me, because it fails to question the conventional notion of biological authority; it simply seeks to harness a juridical biology to humanistic ends.