Monday, October 24, 2011

masculine vs. feminine subjectivity or psychic bisexuality

In Freud's middle period were are given the coordinates for a masculine vs. feminine subjectivity in his ego or narcissism vs. object or masochistic libido construction:

“We see also, broadly speaking, an antithesis between ego-libido and object-libido. The more of the one is employed, the more the other becomes depleted. The highest phase of development of which object-libido is capable is seen in the state of being in love, when the subject seems to give up his own personality in favour of an object-cathexis; while we have the opposite condition in the paranoic's phantasy (or self-perception) of the ‘end of the world’ (On narcissism, p.76)

Freud, in what could be called his phallo-centrism said that men are the ones with a true anaclitic object choice while women have a narcissistic object choice but analysts after corrected him.

Jacobson writes:

In fact, extreme idealization of women, which Freud considers a characteristically masculine attitude, can in my experience be observed more frequently in men who have strong, unconscious female identifications.
Jacobson, The self and the object world, p.120

Nydes writes:

In such a formulation, the word love is not defined in an ideal sense, but is equated rather with interest, attention, sympathy, pity, concern, and endless variations and combinations of what are generally construed to be the rights of one who is dependent. It involves apparent submission to the love object. The word 'power', too, does not reflect constructive mastery or achievement so much as it implies, in this sense, power to enforce submission from others.

Nydes, Schreber, Parricide, and Paranoid-Masochism, p.210

Karen Horney too found that the narcissism found in the man was opposed by a masochistic quality in the majority of women. She writes that in this self-effacing position:

there are taboos on all that is presumptuous, selfish, and aggressive… [and they] constitute a crippling check on the person’s narcissism, his capacity for fighting and for defending himself, [and] his self-interest— on anything that might accrue to his growth or his self-esteem (Horney, Neurosis and Human Growth, p.219).

Informed by the work of these early pioneers Edith Jacobson in the impressive work The Self and the Object World solidified the importance of Freud’s middle period to say that “narcissistic or masochistic sexual or social behaviour” form two poles in the personality. She writes that both “document clearly enough the tendency to withdraw object cathexis and make their own person the object either of love, admiration and libidinous gratification, or of hate, depreciation and destruction. (Self and the Object World, p.77). In other words, a narcissist can begin to isolate from personal relationships because he doesn’t receive the admiration he wants from others or falls out with them because of venomous rivalries and a masochist can isolate because she feels unworthy of love or that she has to help everyone with their problems and can’t say no.

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