Monday, July 16, 2012

Altruist's Central Complex

In Feminine Guilt and the Oedipus Complex Chasseguet-Smirgel challenges Freuds view put forward in Female Sexuality that the girl’s Oedipus complex may not exist and, that if it does, it is usually an exact replica of her relationship to her mother.

I disagree with her and hold that the altruist (both subject and object), as well as the egoist (both subject and object), bring their phallic-proto (and phallic-narcissistic or phallic deutero relations, if experienced) with the mother to the Oedipal conflict with the father. Because of this I've only quoted the descriptive passages and left out a lot of her theory. 
“A girl’s guilt toward her father does not interfere merely with her sexual life but extends to her achievements in other fields if they take on an unconscious phallic significance. Inhibition related to this guilt seems to me chiefly responsible for women’s place in culture and society today… I found that in patients suffering from chronic headaches their guilt over surpassing their parents on an intellectual level (… as though reproducing an autocastration of the intellectual faculties) was usually linked to the father, in both male and female patients. For both sexes successful intellectual activity is the unconscious equivalent of possessing the penis. For women this means they have the father’s penis and have thus dispossessed the mother, the Oedipal drama. In addition they have also castrated the father. Moreover, [106] the adequate use of such a penis also involves from the unconscious point of view the fecal origin of this image, ultimately, that of retaining an anal penis, which in turn engenders guilt. 107

Once her aggression toward the paternal penis was accepted she was able to create fantasies about an Oedipal sexual relation with the father. 107

Guilt toward the mother, the Oedipal rival, is coupled with the guilt of having taken the father’s penis in order to make a child with it. This attack against the essence of the love object applied in transformation is experienced as anal guilt 109  [key = urethral stage ego- need for punishment emerges from here, Schreber, kestenberg, etc.)

We learn from clinical experience that from a narcissistic point of view the girl feels painfully incomplete 112

Basically, penis envy is the symbolic expression of another desire. Women do not wish to become men, but want to detach themselves from the mother and become complete, autonomous women. 118

Masculine Object:

The woman who identifies with the phallus desires only to be desired. She establishes herself as a phallus; this implies an impenetrability and therefore withdrawal from any relation with an external erotic object [123]… what Freud described as the narcissistic woman whose fascination, similar to that of a child, is linked with her ‘inaccessibility’ like ‘the charm of certain animals which seem not to concern themselves about us, such as cats and the large beasts of prey’ (On Narcissism). Further on Freud mentions the ‘enigmatic nature’ and the ‘cold and narcissistic’ attitude these women have toward men. Rather than seeing in this the essence of women’s object relations, I see it as an identification with an autonomous phallus. 124

If I have dwelt at such length on this description of woman’s identification with the autonomous phallus, it is because I wish to avoid confusing it with the position I am now going to discuss- that of the paternal penis woman. Far from being autonomous with regard to the object, she is closely dependent on it and is also its complement. She is the right hand, the assistant, the colleague, the secretary, the auxiliary, the inspiration for an employer, a lover, a husband, a father. She may also be a companion for old age, guide, or nurse. One sees the basic conflicts underlying such relationships in clinical practice. 124

Feminine subject:

During her analysis, she thinks of taking up some professional activity. At the beginning of his career  her husband had written some commercial songs to earn money. She had contributed the main ideas for these, so he now suggested that she write her own songs. But she says she is incapable of doing that- she could never be inspired unless the song could be considered his creation. 127

Acting for oneself, being autonomous, creating for oneself meant possessing the paternal penis and thus castrating the father 128

I would readily see this as the source of one of woman’s main conflicts, that of being relative to men, just as nearly all of woman’s cultural or social achievements are. Women are said to produce few original works; they are often the brilliant disciple of a man or of a masculine theory. They are rarely leaders of movements. This is surely the effect of a conflict specific to women… [they] are cured of their symptoms only in order to make publicity for their analyst; they feel they are a successful product, and experience their analysis as though the future and the reputation of the analyst depended on it (131)

The obstacles which the girl encounters in her love for her father and in the rivalry with her mother are frightening enough for the girl’s Oedipus complex to be just what the boy’s Oedipus complex was, “the crux of neuroses” 133

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