Sunday, February 24, 2013

Glory and Harmony- psychic bisexuality/sadism and masochism

In the Economics of the Libido I laid out the fundamental axis for the ego ideal in the negation of the finite. This negation goes in two directions. The not-finite can become the infinite or perfection and the not-finite can mean the not-living or death.

As a finite being the child can know neither perfection or death from anything internal or its own subjective experience. However it can form its internal imagos as negation of the finite and have transference to objects based upon seeing them as models of perfection to strive for, or as dead figures who must be helped or enlivened.

The mother as the primary object, biologically selected to have breasts is destined to represent the set of imagos which are tied to the finite and its negation in these two directions. Even if a child is raised by two fathers the earliest instincts that were attached to the breasts will take the being with the breasts as the imprint for the imagos and everything else will be settled in relation to the power dynamics between the parents.

The father is associated with the imagos that both eclipse the mother's imagos and attaches them to regulated social relations. I've discussed these in regards to their anal and phallic social ontologies.

At this point the striving for perfection becomes the ego ideal of glory and restoration after death becomes the ego ideal of harmony.

Although Freud wanted to derive masochism from sadism or sadism from masochism at different points, when he looked at the situation in relation to psychic bisexuality he wanted to keep the two distinct:

It is, moreover, a suggestive fact that the existence of the pair of opposites formed by sadism and masochism cannot be attributed merely to the element of aggressiveness. We should rather be inclined to connect the simultaneous presence of these opposites with the opposing masculinity and femininity which are combined in bisexuality— a contrast which often has to be replaced in psycho-analysis by that between activity and passivity (Three Essays, p.160).

In regards to sadism he clearly relates it to perfection:

It is in sadism, where the death instinct twists the erotic aim in its own sense and yet at the same time fully satisfies the erotic urge, that we succeed in obtaining the clearest insight into its nature and its relation to Eros. But even where it emerges without any sexual purpose, in the blindest fury of destructiveness, we cannot fail to recognize that the satisfaction of the instinct is accompanied by an extraordinarily high degree of narcissistic enjoyment, owing to its presenting the ego with a fulfilment of the latter's old wishes for omnipotence.
(Civilization, p. 121).

Reading McDougall today I thought her formulation "a body that suffers is also a body that is alive" was the clearest description of masochism's relation to death (Theaters of the Body, p. 152).

As the egoistic and altruistic poles of the personality become ever more integrated in development sadism and masochism will find expression in the opposite pole.

I've suggested that the Oedipus complex represents the beginnings of love in the egoist and competition in the altruist, who haven't formed the phallic ideals in both poles of their personality, and that this tenuous entrance will easily lead to regression.   

Reading the work of Michael Eigen who seems effortlessly at home in the mythical frame of mind has inspired me to aspire beyond technical language and find resonance with mythical language.

Glory and harmony are words so big that they feel out of place in my daily vocabulary but they belong very well to the mind-scapes that Eigen paints.

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