Monday, January 2, 2012

hysteric-hysteroid, compulsive-obsessive

The idea of doing this blog was first attached to the idea of sharing all the reaction papers I have to write for articles in class. Some of the posts have been taken from the reaction papers, some from previous essays, but the bulk has been reflections on my personal research.

Here's part of a reaction paper I just finished:
I especially liked the finding that men who felt conflicted about endorsing traditional male gender roles had poorer attachment and a more fragile self (p.53). In my own research there seems to be an irony that those who are ambivalent about roles and feel inadequate in relation to them are also often hyper masculine and feminine.

For example in writing about the hysteric whose conflicts are at the Oedipal level with the father as the love object and the hysteroid where the conflicts are at an earlier phallic level and the mother is the love object, some analysts write:

In many instances the hysteroid would appear to be a caricature of the hysteric, much as the hysteric has been said to be a caricature of femininity. Each characteristic is demonstrated in even sharper dramatic relief. The bounds of social custom and propriety are breached. The latent aggressivity of the exhibitionism, the competitiveness and the self-absorption becomes blatant, insistent, and bizarre. The chic becomes the mannequin; the casual, sloppy; the bohemian, beat. Thus, a hysterical patient was able to enjoy the pleasures of the beauty parlor only after analysis had broken through her defense against exhibitionism while a hysteroid patient changed the color of her hair one to two times a week to keep pace with her rapidly shifting moods. The adaptational functioning of the hysteroid is erratic. Inconstancy and irresponsibility cause the patient to suffer realistic rebuffs, injuries, and failures. By contrast, the hysteric often voices desperation and provokes concern in others but rarely is in actual danger. Historically, in the hysteroid, academic and vocational patterns usually reflect the same erratic quality of attainment, alternating with periods of serious dysfunction (Easser, B.R., Lesser, S.R. (1965). Hysterical Personality: A Re-Evaluation, p. 398-9)

In as similar way, the compulsive character (see Reich's Character Analysis) who plays the role or script of the man just as he does his ‘duty’ as father and protector, tax-paying citizen, model employee, etc. can also be caricatured by the obsessional. The harnessing of the will to perform one’s duty and enact the roles one identifies with, becomes exaggerated into the exalting of reason and contempt for emotions that we often find in obsessional intellectuals and philosophers:

• Belief in the omnipotence of intelligence and reason;
• Denial of the power of emotional forces and contempt for them;
• Extreme value placed on foresight and prediction;
• Feelings of superiority over others related to the faculty of foresight;
• Contempt for everything within self that lags behind the image of
intellectual superiority;
• Dread of recognizing objective limitations of the power of reason;
• Dread of "stupidity" and bad judgment.

What's particularly interesting to me, although merely a matter of intuition and speculation at this point, is that the hysteric represents a feminine or masochistic trend at the genital stage where the hysteroid represents a masculine or narcissistic trend and vice versa for the compulsive and obsessional. Those who deify reason and have contempt for the affects like Plato, Spinoza, and some other rationalists (where Aristotle and some empiricists are more against women than emotions) are affect blocked masochists in my estimation. Plato's dialogues definitely shows his emotional intuition and Spinoza's intellectual love of god makes him into a masochist mystic.

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