Library Talk: Circumcision

Dr. Leon Brenner and Dr. Jordan Osserman on Psychoanalysis and Circumcision


Dr. Jordan Osserman’s book, Circumcision on the Couch: The Cultural, Psychological, and Gendered Dimensions of the World’s Oldest Surgery (2021), engages with the long debate surrounding circumcision in the world of psychoanalysis and without. Dr. Osserman examines how the removal of the foreskin-has become a site upon which vital questions of gender, race, religion, sexuality, and psychic life are negotiated. While most contemporary work on the subject is concerned with whether circumcision is right or wrong, safe or harmful, Dr. Osserman takes as its starting point that the significance of male circumcision exceeds anatomical and juridical considerations. Deploying a feminist Lacanian framework, while drawing from a wide range of archival sources and critical thought, Dr. Osserman asks: How can psychoanalysis help us shed light on the ideologies, discourses, and fantasies surrounding circumcision and the impassioned stances for and against it? And how might the history of circumcision, in turn, allow us to re-assess and clarify how we understand the split (or “snipped”) subject of psychoanalysis?

In the International Psychoanalytic University’s Library Talk, Dr. Leon Brenner will engage in a discussion with Dr. Osserman on the topic of his book also taking questions from the audience.

The discussion will take place on Zoom on 12 May at 8 pm. Please register using the form below. You will receive the zoom link afterwards.

Students and lecturers of the IPU are invited to participate and can also submit questions in advance: leon(at) Other interested guests are welcome to join as well.

Jordan Osserman, PhD is a Lecturer in the Department of Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies at the University of Essex, UK, and a clinical trainee with the Site for Contemporary Psychoanalysis, London. His research interests include the medical humanities, psychoanalysis, left wing politics and gender and sexuality studies. His current research involves a psychosocial study of the role of time in the work of clinicians at the UK's only publicly funded health service for young people considering gender transition. Jordan's writing has appeared in Radical Philosophy, The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, Viewpoint, and Tribune Magazine.

Dr. Leon S. Brenner is a psychoanalytic theorist and psychological counselor from Berlin and is currently a research fellow at the International Psychoanalytic University Berlin and the Hans Kilian und Lotte Köhler Centrum (KKC) at the Ruhr University Bochum. Brenner’s work draws from the Freudian and Lacanian traditions of psychoanalysis, and his interest lies in the understanding of the relationship between culture and psychopathology. His book The Autistic Subject: On the Threshold of Language, is a bestseller in psychology in Palgrave/Springer publishing in 2021. He is a founder of Lacanian Affinities Berlin and Unconscious Berlin.