The Disability Drive

Anna Mollow
UC Berkeley

Through readings of nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century literary and medical texts, this dissertation argues that what Freud calls the “death drive” also entails a drive toward disability. This project shows that the “disability drive,” enacts a merging of sexuality and disability that inheres within all subjects but that our culture, by abjecting the drive onto disabled people, habitually misrecognizes. Rather than rejecting cultural uses of disability to figure the death drive, this project imagines ways of taking on, and taking in, the twisting and perverting effects of the disability drive. In doing so, this dissertation radically undermines familiar figurations of disability as antierotic or “unsexy.” Forgoing social legitimacy and turning instead toward that which is bent, blind, crippled, queer, sick, and disabled, both the disability drive and The Disability Drive reveal that disability and sexuality—terrifying, appealing, and self-destroying—are not antithetical but coextensive.