Tuesday, February 26, 2013

psychic bisexuality- exhibitionism and scopophilia/ the four humours

In formally separating the active-egoistic and passive-altruistic poles of the personality there has to be three 'mythical drives'. Eros and the destructive drive relates to fusion and defusion in the relation of the ego drive/ideal leading someone out into the world in competition or love (fusion) or someone who is engaging with others or isolating in sadism, masochism, and bad conscience (defusion).

This leaves the pair life drive and death drives or what I prefer to call the instinct for mimicry and the instinct for mastery (both from Freud's work) to represent the two poles and sexuality to be the third drive. Sexuality is expressed fundamentally differently in the egoist and altruist but exists in both. As Freud writes, in love the altruist is given access to sexuality.

It is possible to be egoistic and at the same time to be excessively narcissistic—that is to say, to have very little need for an object, whether, once more, for the purpose of direct sexual satisfaction, or in connection with the higher aspirations, derived from sexual need, which we are occasionally in the habit of contrasting with ‘sensuality’ under the name of ‘love’. In all these connections egoism is what is self-evident and constant, while narcissism is the variable element. The opposite to egoism, altruism, does not, as a concept, coincide with libidinal object-cathexis, but is distinguished from it by the absence of longings for sexual satisfaction. When someone is completely in love, however, altruism converges with libidinal object-cathexis. As a rule the sexual object attracts a portion of the ego's narcissism to itself, and this becomes noticeable as what is known as the ‘sexual overvaluation’ of the object. (Introductory Lectures, p. 417-8).

The egoist, in who sexuality is mixed with aggression as opposed to affection as with the altruist, has sexual desires beyond the love relationship. This is of course a discussion of pure types where many people are mixed but it's necessary to follow pure types in order to construct a model.

I want to complicate this with the four libidinal positions I've introduced and bring up scopophilia in the object altruist.

I've come to understand that scopophilia is different than voyeurism. Scopophilia is about enjoying your partner's sexual enjoyment while voyeurism is about watching others have sex. I think it's of fundamental importance in understanding 'multiple orgasms' and forms of hysteria to understand that sexual pleasure is appearing through the other's sexual pleasure and not from one's own body which can, in fact, be frigid.

Since making this connection I have come to see that some versions of the four humours correspond to the four libidinal positions.

Sometimes the four humours resemble the Chinese elements in plotting problems in the vertical psychosexual development axis and give us oral, anal, phallic characters based upon deutero and trito stages. However sometimes the four humours gives us a clear picture of pathology in regards to the horizontal or bisexual axis.

The choleric temperament is ambitious and leader-like and tied to anger, hate, aggression (subject egoist).
The sanguine temperament is sociable and charismatic and tied to impulsivity and pleasure-seeking (object altruist).
The phlegmatic temperament is kind and affable and tied to laziness, self-effacement and stagnation (subject altruist).
The melancholic temperament is concerned with beauty and judgmental and tied to moodiness and isolation (object egoist).

 I still haven't been able to escape the idea of repression based upon bisexuality. Freud eschewed it many times in his texts but, as he taught us, the excessive rejection of something (negation) shows it acceptance on another level.

Analysts will talk about negative narcissism or negative exhibitionism but this is generally done in a reductive way to make the feminine the not-masculine and follows the binaries of strong vs. weak.

However, good clinicians show that some ideas are best understood as negatives.

For example, Reich writes: Masochistic characters cannot endure praise and tend toward self-depreciation and self-abasement. In spite of his great ambition, our patient could not endure it when he was considered a good student in school. "If I had continued to be a good student, I would have fancied myself as standing naked in front of a large crowd with an excited penis" (ibid. 253)

The opposite, to stand in front of a large crowd with an excited penis would be exhibitionism by every definition.

In an older post I wrote about how it often appears to me that there are negative forms of scopophilia.

In this way, the maiden who is rescued from the dragon becomes a treasure, the desire to marry becomes a desire to amass wealth, and the overwhelming separation from the object becomes the overwhelming collection of things in the hoarder. 

Externalization of aggression onto objects makes them into weapons, as Klein shows (feces as missiles, urine as poison), and following the same logic, externalization of libido onto things makes them greedily desired. Does the masculine always externalize on things? While the feminine projects onto objects [people]? 

If scopophilia is the passive form of exhibitionism in both the sexual sense of enjoying the arousal or pleasure of the other and the social sense of vicarious pleasure through another's joy, then do we have an anti-exhibitionism which is the foundation of the self-effacing conscience of the woman and an anti-scopophillic possessiveness or selfishness which inaugurates the phallic quality of the man? 

In myth I think we have a nice parallel between the dwarf and the elf. The dwarf becomes the obsessional digging in his mine for treasure and the elf becomes the hysteric in communication with nature around her and hidden away from people. The dwarf is away from people because his libido is towards objects while the elf is hidden because she doesn't want to be center of attention.

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