Friday, February 15, 2013

preoedipal, oedipal, and psycho-neurotic characters

This ‘nucleus’ of the guilt superego, that is formed from the identification with (full internalization of) the father as the result of the Oedipus complex, still requires the instinctual renunciation of homosexual impulses to develop into the father complex. McDougall is an example of a recent, brilliant analyst who has found that homosexual impulses exist towards the father not just from the feminine side of our bisexual constitution but from the masculine side for a masculine object. She writes

With the help of a clinical illustration, I hope to throw some light on certain fundamental factors that contribute to sexual identity formation and its inversions, in particular the importance of the different identifications with both parents that essentially structure the sense of sexual identity for all children. Here several psychic dramas intertwine: the one to receive most attention in our psychoanalytic literature is the heterosexual oedipal crisis which involves, among other important factors, the wish to possess in the most literal sense of the word the parent of the opposite sex while wishing death upon the same-sex parent. But there is also the homosexual oedipal drama which also implies a double aim, that of having  oexclusive possession of the same-sex parent and that of being the parent of the opposite sex. This twofold dilemma has been explored elsewhere (McDougall,  Eve's reflection: on the homosexual components of female sexuality). (McDougall, The Dead Father, p. 206)[1].

 In the Book Phallos: A Symbol and Its History in the Male World, author Thorkil Vangaard details the ‘homosexual radical’ that exists in men and has existed in various cultural practices of pederasty that pass on ‘manhood’ to boys. These practices usually lasted until puberty and Vangaard differentiates this homosexual impulse from one from a passive-feminine part of the personality.

I think the myths of Heracles and Theseus shows the important differences between someone who is functioning pre-oedipally and Oedipally but pre-father complex. Neither is psycho-neurotic which requires the instinctual renunciation to enter the father complex.

 While the preoedipal Heracles is half god and have mortal, Theseus is partly divine with both a mortal father and Poseidon lying with his mother in the same night. While Heracles fights and defeats great supernatural monsters in his labours, Theseus fights bandits and has 6 encounters to Heracles 12. Heracles performs his labours mostly on his own, with the occasional help of Iolaus who is his nephew and not a social peer, while Theseus had a social peer and ‘best friend’ Pirithous with whom he went on several adventures. Although there is no explicit homosexuality between the two they are part of an archetype of heroes who do everything with best friends (Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, etc.) and homoerotic undertones are often noted. Heracles, in contrast, had many lovers both male and female but no constancy in his relationships.

After the Oedipus complex the father is accepted as both head of the family (procreator) and represents someone who is both more skilled (difference between the generations) and the possessor of the mother (difference between the sexes). The Oedipal level neurotic accepts the procreator, or paternal phallus, and has reduced his narcissism as illustrated in Theseus. However, he has not identified as an 'adult' in the father complex and made the submission to the father into his own ideal. The procreator also represents 'the law' and Freud's group psychology is developed from the observation that conscience can be lost in groups because it first existed externally in the form of the father (i.e. 'social anxiety'). In the father complex both the law in the father as well as the incest taboo and the father's possession of the mother become ideals. These are seen in the institutions of marriage and the incest taboos against the sister or cousin that are found in every culture.

Understanding this, the rogue or picaresque hero represents the person who has the maximum amount of happiness and egoism without pathology having set in. The pre-oedipal Heracles is a regression to the proto-phallic or phallic deutero stage in contrast. Sherlock Holmes or other individuals who show an identification with the law but are still larger than life and failing to meet the father complex impulses to marriage and sociability are returning to an earlier anal stage of conscience. The difference between the anal and phallic rests upon the anal being concerned with injury to someone's person or property while the phallic is concerned with justice or fairness. Needless to say, Moriarty and the great criminals that these heros fight are striving to overcome their own repressed criminal impulses.  

[1] There are also other analysts who continued to affirm Freud’s homosexual impulses and their relation to the ego ideal  (Hymer, ‘Narcissistic Friendships’; Lewes, K., ‘A Special Oedipal Mechanism in the Development of Male Homosexuality’).  

No comments:

Post a Comment