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The birth of nanke (men's medicine) in China: The making of the subject of desire



Why have hospital visits by impotence patients increased and visits by yijing (spermatorrhea) patients decreased in China since the 1980s? A change in moral symptomatology explains these diverging trends: Yijing, as a symptom under Maoist socialism, reflected a moral code of hostility toward individual desire, whereas impotence, as a symptom in post-Mao China, reflects the justification of individual desire. This contrast reveals a shift in the basis of subject making from enforcing collective unity to promoting individual desire. The recent emergence in China of nanke (men's medicine), which treats impotence and other complaints, signals a new moral code that produces desire-centered subjectivity.

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