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FuckologyCritical Essays on John Money's Diagnostic Concepts$
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Lisa Downing, Iain Morland, and Nikki Sullivan

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780226186580

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226186757.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 18 February 2020

Cybernetic Sexology

Cybernetic Sexology

Chapter:
(p.101) Chapter 4 Cybernetic Sexology
Source:
Fuckology
Author(s):

Iain Morland

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226186757.003.0004

Authored by Iain Morland, this chapter engages with John Money’s claim to think cybernetically about sex, gender, and sexuality. Using a cybernetic vocabulary, Money claimed to offer a more scientific and up-to-date sexology than hitherto possible. Evaluating the context and rhetoric of his claims, the chapter explains how Money used cybernetics — the study of communication and control, conceived during 1940s military research — to distance sexology from both psychoanalytic and biological studies. Further, it shows how cybernetic theory shaped Money’s treatment recommendations for individuals with ambiguous genitalia: he drew both explicitly and indirectly on cybernetic thinkers such as mathematician Norbert Wiener and psychiatrist Ross Ashby. However, the chapter also critiques a formative error made by Money in his application of cybernetics to sexology. Cybernetics theorized dynamic systems that can adapt, not merely repeat. It was therefore irreconcilable with the irrevocable establishment of gender in infancy that was axiomatic for Money. Consequently, the chapter argues that Money’s model of gender was closer to a psychoanalytic view of unconscious determinism than a cybernetic theory.

Keywords:   cybernetics, gender, intersex, John Money, Konrad Lorenz, Norbert Wiener, psychoanalysis, Ross Ashby

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