Sunday, October 30, 2011

The phallic-narcissistic and the castration complex

A more schematized presentation of phallic-narcissism, the castration complex, and its relation to the Oedipus complex is here

Hand in hand with the castration complex is denial of castration which Freud sees at work in the symbol of the phallic mother which is ubiquitous in perversions (See Outline of Psychoanalysis p. 202-3, Fetishism, and Splitting of the Ego in the Process of Defense).

Since I've been able to tie Heracles labours to the poly phallic where the third appears as the king or symbolic order in which the individual has a drive to excellence then the phallic-narcissistic stage at which the castration complex occurs should create an ideal that is different. McDougall provides an interesting answer in making the ideal a negative one. Instead of competing for excellence with others the ideal is to be 'not-ordinary'. She writes:

"to be like the others" still signified castration, "to be accepted by the others" was equivalent to losing his identity. He would then be forced to go over to the other side, the side of the brothers—and the fathers. To make such a move would mean the risk of losing all hope of possessing the mother's phallic secret and thus one day possessing the means of totally satisfying her… his feeling of identity would be reduced to nothing. For K. could only find his identity in the eyes of his mother. Only through her could he hope to acquire his manhood. His wish for his father's love and for the right to identify with him and thereby introject an authentic paternal-phallic image was felt to be forbidden by his mother, and had therefore to remain unconscious. His mother remained sole guardian of his narcissistic integrity (McDougall, Anonymous Spectator, p. 298)

In effect, the sexual denial of the pervert for a basic man-woman relationship means that he gets a special pleasure in his perverse act. Socially, the pervert would similarly deny the symbolic order and the need for competition and having a good reputation or symbolic post of power in order to get self-esteem. He draws on a confidence that doesn't come from measuring his ego and when he makes errors or commits misdeeds that don't live up to the ideal image he has of himself he denies or disavows them.

Chasseguet-Smirgel mentions the work of Grunberger who also sees the phallic-narcissistic encounter as a negative one:

In fact the Oedipus complex itself can be viewed as inextricably tied to human immaturity. Béla Grunberger (1957), (1967) has stressed this point. He believes the conflict between Oedipal desire and the child's incapacity to satisfy it to be the basis of the incest taboo, a taboo projected onto the father in order to safeguard the child's narcissism. 'It is not I who cannot, it is he who prevents me.'

Grunberger writes:

The anti-Semite's profound satisfaction flows from the fact that his ego is in perfect harmony with his ego-ideal. Having made his projection onto the Jew, he has found his Manichaean paradise: all that is bad is thereafter on one side—the side of the Jew—and all that is good on the other side where he himself is. The photo carries the proof. The ego-ideal is narcissistic, and the satisfaction is that of perfect narcissistic integrity recovered through the projection on to the Jew (Grunberger, The anti-semite and the Oedipus Complex, p. 382).

We should contrast this racism, as the cultural externalization of the conscience (not the moral one but the self-honesty related to self-worth) with the previous representation of the castrating woman at the polyphallic stage.

Burgner in the Phallic-Narcissistic Phase draws attention to how the individual feels themselves to be above ordinary people. She writes:

Margareta, for example, a nursery school child not in treatment, occasioned much discussion among the staff as to her status in phallic-narcissistic and oedipal development. She was a pretty, dainty, beautifully dressed child, who appeared feminine and self-satisfied. She knew well how to make an entrance and become the center of attention, and soon became known as "the little princess." She had an apparently flirtatious relationship with her father, which was occasionally extended to male observers in the nursery school. When she began nursery school at age 3, it seemed reasonable to suppose that she was entering the oedipal phase. But during her two years in the nursery school it became increasingly apparent that her relationships were superficial; she approached adults briefly in order to be admired, and retreated again once this aim had been achieved. If at times she became more involved, it was only to reveal clearly (at home as well as in school) the obstinate behavior more appropriate to the relationships of a toddler in the anal phase. Throughout the two years she remained aloof from the other children, never making any lasting friendship…. The superficiality and lack of development in Margareta's relationships eventually led the staff to conclude that her feminine exhibitionism was not a sign of true oedipal development… 176

While as adults these patients were often able to have heterosexual intercourse (thus indicating the relative intactness of their drive development), their relationships to their objects were frequently characterized by interactions on a phallic-narcissistic level; for example, an inability to achieve a reciprocal relationship in which the object's real qualities and characteristics are recognized and valued, and in which the needs and demands of the object are accepted; a tendency to use the object solely as a source of admiration or condemnation, as a substitute for internalized approval or sanctions; an emphasis on exhibitionistic and voyeuristic behavior in relation to the object; an incessantly phallic-competitive interaction with the object. Indeed, we were struck, as we examined the level of object relationships of these patients, how many of them could also be described as hysterical characters, and we would further suggest that in the hysteric the phallic-narcissistic level rather than the oedipal one is the nodal point of the regressive behavior. Much of what is often described as oral-demanding behavior in hysterics is perhaps better understood as a manifestation of phallic-narcissistic demands for admiration and narcissistic supplies from the object. 178

All this terminology is confusing but I'd rather keep with the existing terms then begin to invent all new terms...

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