The Dislodgement of the Person

Geertje Mak

in Doubting Sex

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780719086908
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781702628 | DOI:
The Dislodgement of the Person

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This chapter demonstrates how enactments of doubting sex and sexual function under bedside medicine differed from those under the new medical regime. A general overview of how and by whom hermaphroditism was disclosed illustrates a fundamental shift in medical practice which entailed a completely different enactment of hermaphroditism itself. It also describes the dislodgement of the person in clinical encounters. The issue of temporarily silencing the body through anaesthesia, surgery and dissection is then addressed. The new enactments of sex in cases of hermaphroditism caused a detachment from lay enactments of sex as the palpation of internal organs had little to do with the outward appearance of someone's sex. Physicians routinely gained access to their internal bodies through palpation, auscultation and the insertion of instruments and fingers into bodily openings, where anaesthetics proved to be of great help in overcoming the accompanying shame and pain.

Keywords: hermaphroditism; doubting sex; sexual function; anaesthesia; surgery; dissection

Chapter.  9479 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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