Sex, Paranoia, and Modern Masculinity

By Kenneth Paradis

Subjects: Psychoanalysis
Series: SUNY series in Psychoanalysis and Culture
Paperback : 9780791469347, 238 pages, January 2008
Hardcover : 9780791469330, 238 pages, November 2006

Alternative formats available from:

Table of contents

Introduction: Paranoia and the sex of modern individuality
1. Modern narratives of paranoia
2. Freudian metapsychology and the sex of paranoia
3. Paranoia as Popular Heroism: Hard-boiled Moral Masculinity
4. Sex, Subjectivity and Male-to-Female Transsexual Autobiography

How modern conceptions of paranoia became associated with excessive or unregulated masculinity.


Sex, Paranoia, and Modern Masculinity explores how twentieth-century conceptions of paranoia became associated with the excessive or unregulated exercise of masculine intellectual tendencies. Through an extended analysis of Freudian metapsychology, Kenneth Paradis illustrates how paranoid ideation has been especially connected to the figure of the male body under threat of genital mutilation or emasculation. In this context, he also considers how both midcentury detective fiction (especially the work of Raymond Chandler) and contemporaneous autobiographies of male-to-female transsexuals negotiate the terms of this gendered understanding of psychopathology, thus articulating their own notions of moral value, individual autonomy, and effective agency.

Kenneth Paradis is Assistant Professor of English and Contemporary Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University in Brantford, Ontario.


"I like very much how this book explores the deeper roots of paranoia and how those deeper roots are shown to be complicit in the building of narratives in the modern age—narratives with not only psychological and sexual implications but gendered implications as well. Paradis's insightful exploration of sexuality and paranoia says much about our own condition in the present moment. " — Todd F. Davis, author of Kurt Vonnegut's Crusade; or, How a Postmodern Harlequin Preached a New Kind of Humanism

"This book demonstrates the interrelatedness of several genres and styles of paranoid discourse: detective fiction, autobiography, memoir, case study, film, and novel. The author weaves these sometimes disparate genres into a multifaceted set of readings that offer an intelligent analysis of paranoid narratives. " — Mark S. Roberts, coeditor of High Culture: Reflections on Addiction and Modernity