Thursday, January 5, 2012

psychoanaltyic basics- perversion II

Taking the 4 subject positions I’d like to put forth the findings of Janine Chasseguet-Smirgel's work on perversions and see if I can expand it:

As I have had occasion to show in my essay on the ego ideal (1973) as well as in other studies, the denial of differences between the sexes is intrinsically linked to the difference between generations. The little boy feels, "If my mother does not have a vagina to be filled, I, the little prepubescent boy with my little penis and my pregenital sexuality, have no need to identify with my father who does not possess anything more than I to satisfy my mother. I will be an adequate sexual partner for my mother as I am. 517

He can thus manage to avoid the Oedipus complex and that which is correlated with it, the threat of castration: his father is not his rival and he does not have to take away his object—the mother—whom he thinks he already possesses and who enthrones him as a privileged partner. He does not try to capture or introject the penis of the father who, therefore, will not retaliate. Besides—and this is essential in my opinion — he tries to pass the anal penis, the precursor of the genital penis, as equal or superior to the paternal penis whose genital and procreative functions are denigrated or denied. 518

This takes us back to fetishism, and I would like to put forth, provisionally, the following hypothesis: the fetish represents the anal phallus insofar as it comes to occupy the place of the genital penis and excludes it from the sexual scene and from the psyche in general. It is therefore not only the mother's missing phallus. The excitation the fetishist derives from the fetish (or, rather, the excitation it permits) is necessary to maintain the lure on which his psychosexuality is built. The fact that its wearer is a man, a woman, or the subject himself, or that it is reduced to an inanimate object—a garment, shoes, underwear, or hair—separated from any real support, becomes secondary (although not indifferent, of course) to the need for the fetish to exist somewhere in a manner which is unfailing and perfectly exciting. 519

I would like to put forth the hypothesis that the concept of castration itself should be enlarged. I have already stressed on several occasions that Freud's theory of sexual phallic monism, inferring that the oedipal boy has no desire to penetrate his mother, lacking at all levels the knowledge of the existence of the vagina, deprives the oedipal situation of most of its dramatic impact. The father does nothing to the mother that the little boy could not do, since the latter only wishes to have "vague and unprecise contacts" with her, where "his penis is obscurely involved," and ignores that the mother could be gratified in any other way, in particular through coitus. The theory of sexual phallic monism goes along perfectly with the defenses of the pervert, and Freud's theory of fetishism proceeds directly from it. In reality, women, including mother, are not castrated; mother actually possesses a vagina that the little boy cannot fill and fulfill. The denial does not apply to the "castration" of the mother, but to her vagina which is the place of the erotic exchanges between the parents and inevitably leads back to the existence of its complement, the penis of the father.

The patient who adopts the theory of phallic sexual monism spares himself fears of castration. He has nothing to envy as far as his father is concerned; his father's penis has no meaning, he does not wish to take it away from him, and he does not want to dislodge it from the vagina or womb of the mother. For him the "big" and fertile penis of the father is a totally useless organ. The desire to acquire the virile attributes of the father is intrinsically linked to the transmission of the name and the inheritance which assigns to the subject his place within a lineage (the impostor, like the pervert, refuses the filiation). The lack of interest in obtaining the father's penis protects the patient from retaliation. In addition, it allows him to bypass tremendous suffering due to his feeling of inadequacy, which Freud (1920) has magnificently described in Beyond the Pleasure Principle and also in "The Dissolution of the Oedipus Complex" (1924). Therefore, I propose that we join to and make an intrinsic part of the castration complex the painful feeling of inadequacy of the pregenital child unable to satisfy his mother sexually and to give her a child. (Loss of Reality in Perversion, p.521-2

Chasseguet-Smirgel’s central point again is that:

The sexual pervert and related personality structures will always, in one way or another, search to realize the fantasy that underlies the theory of phallic monism in infantile sexuality: that is to say, the twofold negation of the difference between the sexes and the generations (Perversion, Idealization and Sublimation, p.354).

She does a beautiful investigation of the writings of De Sade and others to establish this point however, her imagination in applying this principle seems restricted. I’d like to combine her principle with the 4 positions I’ve outlined previously:

Subject- will to conquer Object- ‘be conquered’ and be the cause of desire
-with the 3rd term of ‘blame’ or revenge

Subject- merge in love Object- ‘be loved’ and be the cause of delight
-with the 3rd term of ‘self-effacement’ or being nice

The first position that leaps to mind and follows her principle is the principle of religious mysticism that claims that everyone has a soul whether man or woman, child or adult and that all souls are worth the same regardless of how much one develops one’s talents or realizes power in the world. This position of religious mysticism would be the masochistic position concerning ‘love’ for everyone and ‘being nice’ taken to the perverse position of turning the cheek and disavowing all aggression. Christ calls us all to be like children.

The object masochistic position of ‘being loved’ wants to be the cause of delight and to be loved by an adult subject but there seems to be a reversal involved in seeking to gain approval from children rather than adults when we look at clowns. Furthermore, in The Sorceress and the Hysteric Katherine Clement mentions the medieval festivals in which a king would be chosen from among the mentally ill or an ass would be put on top. This reversal seems to also be an act of irreverence and would be a trend we still find at work today in the humour found in the Simpsons, Family Guy, South Park, etc. in which the father is portrayed as an idiot (or the adults foolish) while the children (or even family pets) are intelligent. In the irreverent and absurd universe that is created the differences between the sexes are also covered up as stereotypes are reversed for comedic effects.

Lastly, in the masochistic position the 3rd term of ‘being nice’ qua not being vulgar can be reversed so that the pervert would conceivably ‘get off’ on being vulgar and saying things which aren’t nice (both as vulgar and irreverent) in order to cause other people to be uncomfortable.

With the subject narcissist the clearest example of perversion comes from denying one’s place as ‘heir to the throne,’ and becoming a leader by spending it in dissolution with degenerates. This is shown in Prince Hal in Henry the Fifth and by the Russian concept of the Superfluous Man who is a man of great abilities but chooses not to realize them in any way. It’s a mirror in some ways to Christ keeping company with prostitutes and sinners but instead it’s a would be Caesar who is doing the same. One is neither an adult nor child and neither does the opposite sex inspire any direction in life in this type. In other words, nihilism denies the difference between the sexes and the generations by saying there is no meaning: whether in comparison between man and woman or between adult and child. Life is meaningless for all.

With the object narcissist I believe we have the position of penis envy par excellance in the radical feminist. The radical feminist denies the difference between the narcissistic and masochistic positions and denies the difference between the generations by having a radical political agenda which doesn't seek to speak to the generational differences and becomes more of an aesthetic object for English students than an actual political force.

The 3rd term of blame or revenge I believe is also most clearly negated in the act of renouncing pleasure for oneself and becoming an ascetic. This form of morality involves a person delighting in the power they have over themselves rather than over others and comprises an ever narrowing scope of pleasure as more and more has to be renounced to the superego. The blame is taken from the other and put into the narcissist’s own body which makes the desires of the flesh bad with the need for them to be controlled.

I’ve detailed these examples of perversion of the social rather than the sexual type because the sexual are much more widely known. This list isn’t supposed to be exhaustive but rather attempts to give examples in several different areas.

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