The lability and liability of female ‘borderline’ sexuality: a feminist Foucauldian discourse analysis of Thompson et al’s (2017) ‘Sexuality and sexual health among female youth with borderline personality disorder pathology’

Fellows, Nina K. (2023). The lability and liability of female ‘borderline’ sexuality: a feminist Foucauldian discourse analysis of Thompson et al’s (2017) ‘Sexuality and sexual health among female youth with borderline personality disorder pathology’. Journal of Psychosocial Studies (Early access).

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1332/147867321x16872536791817

Abstract

The purpose of this discourse study is to deconstruct how a journal article published in Early Intervention in Psychiatry, ‘Sexuality and sexual health among female youth with borderline personality disorder pathology’ (Thompson et al, 2017), constructs the sexuality of young women diagnosed with ‘borderline personality disorder’. The methodology used was Foucauldian discourse analysis, following Hook’s (2001) recommendation to re-situate a text within its socio-political location and among its material correlates, as well as analysing its intra-textual discursive features. The process of analysis involved repeated close readings of the text by Thompson et al (2017), with a focus on binary oppositions within the text, and the power/knowledge nexus in which it is situated. The analysis identified three key discourses at work in the text: the discourse of the academy, the discourse of dichotomy, and the discourse of ‘borderline’ sexuality, which contains a conceptually unstable paradox concerning female ‘borderline’ sexual agency. The consequences of these findings, their historical context, and implications for practice and classification are discussed.

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