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79 - Gender Identity: Literally False, Metaphorically True with Dr. Bret Alderman
Episode 7921st July 2022 • Gender: A Wider Lens Podcast • Stella O'Malley & Sasha Ayad
00:00:00 01:07:00

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Bret Alderman is a writer and life coach who works with gender-questioning teens and their parents. He received his Ph.D. in Depth Psychology from the Pacifica Graduate Institute in 2012. His book Symptom, Symbol, and the Other of Language: A Jungian Interpretation of the Linguistic Turn, is an attempt to understand postmodernism, specifically its intense preoccupation with language, from a perspective informed by the work of Carl Jung. This work, in turn, has led him to an interest in Queer Theory and its relation to earlier, first-generation postmodernist thinkers.

Bret’s insight into postmodernist and poststructuralist thinking provides a rich platform on

which to get to grips with gender ideology. In this fascinating discussion, he explains the “linguistic turn” and the Jungian concepts such as ideological possession and other important archetypes. Perhaps most importantly, Bret tells us why a statement can be literally false and yet remain metaphorically true — and how we can best respond when this is happening.


  • Bret Alderman: Symptom, Symbol, and the Other of Language: A Jungian Interpretation of the Linguistic Turn

Extended Notes

  • For his book, Symptom, Symbol, and the Other of Language, Bret researched the linguistic turn.
  • Bret defines the Jungian “nothing-but” attitude.
  • Queer theory and gender identity theory would be impossible without poststructuralism and the particular understanding of language it inaugurated.
  • In their malleable state, young people may believe they have been misled into a different narrative.
  • A death-rebirth motif runs through the discourse of what it means to be transgender.
  • In the context of gender, something can be literally false yet metaphorically true.
  • The body is a language itself and how physical characteristics are used to communicate who we are.
  • Animals that are sexually dimorphic also exhibit differences in behavior.
  • Bret details Prometheanism and its place in gender ideology.
  • The issue with deifying an idea.
  • Bret describes how he moves past the jargon of the internet during therapy.
  • Jung’s active imagination technique for internalized transphobia.
  • It is normal for teens to radically change the way they present themselves to the world.
  • Bret contends that gender identity theory and queer theory are not sustainable.
  • How knowing more than one language translates into a different mindset.

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