Miscommunication in The Psychoanalysis of Edward the Dyke

The miscommunication is seen in many different ways in The Psychoanalysis of Edward the Dyke by Judy Grahn, but I think the most significant moment of this miscommunication between Edward and Dr. Knox is seen on page 30.

First, I should explain what I mean by miscommunication in this context. Throughout this short piece of writing, it is evident that Edward and Dr. Knox are not on the same page in any respect during this meeting. Dr. Knox continually does not listen to Edward when she tries to explain how she feels or what she believes her identity to be. It should be stressed that the miscommunication is not the fault of Edward but Dr. Knox in this context because it is clear that he could really care less about how Edward feels, as seen at the end of the story when he draws a picture of his bank. He is only really in this for the money. 

The miscommunication in this piece stems from the idea that Dr. Knox isn’t listening to Edward even though she explains her worries and problems. This unwillingness to listen to Edward connects to the larger concept of people in the LGBTQ community in the past and now, unfortunately not always being heard, specifically by the medical community, even when they are expressing the issues they are having while trying to embody who they believe they authentically are. 

Grahn uses many different words and examples in this story to emphasize the miscommunication between Edward and Dr. Knox. However, I would argue that on page 30, when Edward starts to say words that seemingly don’t connect to what Dr. Knox is saying, it emphasizes this conflict significantly. 

Dr. Knox states, “‘This oral eroticism of yours is defiantly rooted in Penis Envy, which showed when you deliberately castrated your date by publicly embarrassing him.'” 

Edward responds by moaning, “‘But strawberries. But lemon cream pie.'”

This same pattern continues with Dr. Knox accusing Edward and Edward responding with random words. By choosing these seemingly random words that don’t really make sense, Grahn indicates that what Edward is saying to try and defend herself against these allegations just doesn’t make any sense to Dr. Knox because he isn’t listening to her. No matter what she says, even if it made sense in this context, he still wouldn’t listen to her. Grahn appears to be indicating that even if she says random words, Dr. Knox will always not listen to her or really try to help her. 

This whole interaction on page 30 circles back to the idea of LGBTQ people not being listened to or understood by the medical community. Grahn uses this story to indicate the frustration and humiliation that occurs for many people in the LGBTQ community when dealing with medical professionals. By illuminating this miscommunication in the story, Grahn is calling out the medical community for all of the things they have done to hurt the LGBTQ community. She does it funnily and heartbreakingly at the same time, almost as though to indicate just how ridiculous it is that she has to be writing this kind of story in the first place.

5 thoughts on “Miscommunication in The Psychoanalysis of Edward the Dyke”

  1. That’s a really good observation. I wrote my post partially focused on this poem as well, but I’ll admit I didn’t really notice why she was responding with random words at first. It’s a really clever and morbidly humorous way to show us that it doesn’t matter what Edward is saying, because Dr. Knox isn’t listening. It speaks to the prejudices and harmful stereotypes of the medical profession, and how those pre-conceived notions of identity can be harmful to LGBT people who are often just looking to these medical professionals for help.

  2. I agree wholeheartedly with your blog post! It doesn’t matter what Edward is saying; the doctor cares less about her individuality and more about monetarily exploiting her after providing no help. I also think that the relationship between Edward and the doctor mirrors the relationship between queer people and heteronormative society. Even though heteronormative, societal values are at fault for oppressing the LGBT community, the blame is always pushed onto queer existence. Therefore it doesn’t matter what Edward says because “treatments” the doctor uses are punishments for existing.

  3. When I read this section, I didn’t fully understand why their conversation was so disconnected. I think you explained well that it’s because the doctor is not listening so there was no point to respond truthfully. It seems that the doctor created his own narrative about who Edward is and refuses to listen. It reminded me of page 51 of Susan Stryker’s writing where it discusses how medical practitioners/institutions have a power to determine who was “normal or pathological”. He already labeled Edward as an “other” so there was no point in listening to her. Here, the doctor is treating the person as a body rather than an actual person. It’s so frustrating and upsetting.

  4. Hi! I really love your comments on this passage. The dialogue was extremely awkward, so much so that it seemed comical. Unfortunately the satirical nature really does draw attention to medical professionals lack of understanding of the LGBTQ community, as you stated in your post. While this story brings the issue to light it begs the questions as to why they behave like this? What is the psychological root of this outright denial? I think that Grahn makes the point that there is no reason for them to reject the LGBTQ community through this ridiculous story because it makes as much sense as their prejudice.

  5. Hi Sophie!
    I really loved your rendition of Grahn’s “The Psychoanalysis of Edward the Dyke” and the idea that the doctor, quite frankly, could care less about Edward’s feelings. In particular, I really loved your take on the fact that the “random” words Edward was saying was actually ‘nonsense’ that the doctor was hearing, because, he was not even listening to him. My first impression while reading Grahn’s piece itself, regarding the words Edward was saying, was that Edward was purposely not making sense. However, after reading your piece, I now realize that those words of “strawberries” and “lemons” could actually be synonymous to the lack of attentiveness the doctor has towards Edward. Awesome job:)

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