Sunday, December 11, 2011

oral character

Michael Samsel has a site on Reich's characterology that is a good summary of what Reich's students have turned characterology into.

I've especially enjoyed a post on "orality" (there's a link to his blog) in which he talks about how fixation will show up in the present:

* A hurry to get things done quickly because the actual doing is not pleasureable or secure and the outcome always feels uncertain
* A physical fear of falling which also translates into a fear of failing
* A sense of being hurried to do things before one is ready (sometimes consciously denied)
* A lack of discrimination about how things are done, just getting something done seems paramount. Comments from others about how something is done seem unfair and cruel.
* A belief in a sense of effort and a disbelief in a sense of ease. If something is found effortful, may give up or may continue, but will not look for an easier way.
* Often learns the ‘shell’ of a movement, but not the ‘guts.’
* A tendency to pretend one knows how to do things, and a difficulty asking how to do things, because it seems one should just know.
* Body sensation including emotion is not trusted as a guide
* A reluctance to try truly new things develops, often with a compensatory habit of taking on a lot of variations of things done well.
* A sense that the demands of life are unjust impositions.

I believe that such complicated ideas as the demands of life being unjust, a tendency to pretend one knows how to do things, etc. would be related to later development and this is an example of anthropomorphising a child that is still developmentally much less than a house pet.

However, the idea of learning the "shell" of a movement but not the "guts" and the lack of pleasure (anhedonia) are simple enough that they could be imputed to the simple subject of this time period.

I still need more clinical experience to be confident of the way I've parsed out the stages but, I would say that the oral would be a sexual stage while learning to walk is a stage jouissance or will. I see development going back and forth between libido (feminine or masochistic development) and aggression (masculine or narcissistic) development.

There would be aggressive development from 2d to 3d vision which is referenced in myth with the one-eyed cyclops and then the oral supplies of skin erotism and then to aggression in walking. These focal points would also have transition stages around them, so again, ocular, oral, anal, phallic are not enough to encompass all the phases but they still might prove useful in the general sense that these 4 stages might each have their version of the phallus or power with the other stages surrounding them being more mechanical and less dynamic... For example, Tustin talks about autism as a perverse solution in early development and I think that the big stages that involve the phallus (retroactively signified, of course) are more dynamic... This formulation is not satisfactory but will have to do for now.

I'd like to suggest at this point, however, that Nietzsche with his aphorisms is a good example of this general oral attitude of going in quick and not wanting to do the work of systematizing. I've also noticed the quick, pleasure-less eating in myself and while I initially began practicing yoga and thought I had picked things up pretty quickly I've come to realize more and more that many of my postures lack the "guts".

I also think that my writing style is just to get the ideas out in their bare bones and not with much flesh (style). I think I'm still writing more for the Other than with a sense of power or personal triumph- still hoping to be rescued by someone who can affirm me rather than bothering to affirm myself.

I think that other analysts make the mistake of talking about the oral stage with the mother being god-like and might read omnipotence in this approach of oral character but I think Freud is clear that a sense of God or perfection must arise with self-consciousness (see 'On Narcissism'). This is when the 'gaze' is a true sense of being watched when alone, so that one can feel that 'God' will see one touching oneself or doing something 'bad' even when no one is around which involves much more development in the subject.

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