Sunday, March 17, 2013

Trito Anal- Urethral Stage

I've mentioned before that instead of following the 'private language' of analysts who describe people's behaviour as anal or oral based upon their anthropomorphized (or better, adultomorphized) impressions of the child-mother relationship or their impressionistic interpretation of negative behaviours or induced feelings with a patient, I think it is better to look at common language. In this I linked the anal stage and feces to superlative representations of power, ugliness, servility, and death. 

To this end, I'd like to submit 'pissing contest', 'taking the piss out of', and 'get pissed' (drunk) and, as I'll say more about later, the representation of the abdomen as the 'inner genital'. 

Pissing contest relates to two people competing with one another just for the sake of being right. It's never just one topic. Another and then another is brought up so that a person is either shown to do things the best or most efficient way or know more than the other person not just in one area but in general. 

Taking the piss out of someone relates to mocking or insulting someone so that he or she is brought down to size. Horney and many others note that penis envy arises at the urethral stage in envy of the male's ability to urinate standing up (Horney, On the Genesis of the Castration Complex in Women, p. 51-2).  

Using 'pissed' for drunk I believe to be important in regards to 'dissolving the superego' at this earlier stage. If this stage represents the drive to do everything the best way, then it's easy to see how much pressure could be on a person. One writer mentions a reaction formation that might resemble the use of alcohol here:

The pervasiveness and supremacy of shame in the dynamics of enuresis is to be seen in the assertion by many analysts that children who claim “they couldn't care less” and are defiant are in fact denying and compensating for overwhelming feelings of shame. This implies that shame is ever-present in enuretics, although it is often distorted by reaction formation in its overt expression (Juni, Reaction Formation and Over-control in Enuresis, p. 250).

Some analysts have noted that what has traditionally been described as an anal character is in fact a urethral character. This type of [urethral] character, which has hitherto been very briefly described” Cariot writes, “has many features allied to, in fact, almost identical with, the anal-erotic character as first pointed out by Freud” (Cariot, ‘The Character Traits of Urethral Erotism’, p. 430). 

I've mentioned before that Stoller and Reich both see the anal stage as forming sexual identity in relation to embodiment. Reich's passive feminine character is based upon an anal identification with the mother. Following the trito-phallic consolidation of the phallic-oedipus complex it seems like something similar would go on in the trito-anal or urethral stage and Kestenberg notes this as well:

I have found it useful to subsume the behavior of the child after the anal phase under the heading of urethrality. A girl with an innate phallic predisposition may now exhibit penis envy of a urethral type. Her rapproachement may be tinged with urethral-genital advances. An innately maternal girl will play with dolls and show little interest in boys' genitals. Each of the pregenital phases tends to bring out different feminine characteristics, but a very pronounced preference for a special form of femininity makes us think very early that a special little girl is destined for motherliness, tomboyishness, or sex-appeal (Kestenberg, The Three Faces of Femininity, p. 321-2)

She goes on to note the importance of the abdomen as the outer representative of the 'inner genital' or insides:

If ever there was a prototype of a battering mother, the near-four-year-old can qualify for it in her bouts of frustrated anger with her doll-child. This illusory child represents the now insufferable inner-genital that cannot be assuaged and hides from the girl's wrath. Such an intense excitement may be due to a vulvo-vaginitis, but it also occurs when the child is overstimulated or seduced. The girl wishes she had no inside at all. In analysis we find out that without this excitement there is a feeling of “deadness” equated with the absence of the inner-genital. It is also equated with the “death of the baby” whose previous liveliness attested that there had been something precious and alive inside. While the little girl yearns for the peaceful deadness, called aphanisis by Jones, she also worries that she has been emptied and eviscerated. She may say: “Everything fell out.” She may retain urine or feces to hold on to what she has. She may re-excite herself when she has no genital feelings to make sure that she is not “dead” after all. Having “deadened” her illusory baby she may re-animate and hug it. The conflict between maternality and infanticide is resurrected repeatedly in the girl's life, especially in premenstrual periods. It recurs in various phases of motherhood, when the unruly child taxes the patience of the parent. To avoid conflict mother may at that time want to leave the child and find satisfaction in work. She may vent her anger on her husband as she renews her conflict with her mother (ibid, p.323).

The integrative task of the girl in the inner-genital phase is to establish a primacy of the generative feminine inside over the alimentary and excretory organs and functions. Inner-genital impulses give rise to fantasies. In a primary-process type of thinking, the girl creates a baby out of food, feces, urine, and all that can be used as raw material for generation and regeneration. Excited, full, feeling an elastic, expandable, enlarging, and contractile tissue within her, the girl feels the baby inside. When the feeling becomes more than she can cope with, she nags her mother. Regressively, she combines the nagging with an irritable demandingness, with vying for power, and with simultaneous refusal of and impatient asking for help. When the nagging feeling inside goes away, she feels nothing and becomes concerned with the fear that she had lost her baby. By externalizing inner-genital impulses, the three to four-year-old girl learns to sublimate sexual wishes into maternal fulfillment. Phallic wishes may appear in this still preoedipal period, but they are not dominant. Identification with the mother helps to establish the little girl as an intuitive and understanding "play-mother." The baby within her is created in the image of herself and the mother. Her mother and the mother's accessory — the father — shrink in fantasy whle the girl expands and grows on the inside and on the outside. When she can no longer maintain the dual role of child and mother and has to acknowledge her childlessness, the little girl becomes angry and depressed. Her imaginary baby seems to die. The related conflicts and fears anticipate the feelings of pregnant women who doubt the reality of the baby and at the same time are afraid that the fetus was lost or died. Angry at the baby-hoarding mother and full of murderous impulses against the unreal baby inside of her, the little girl erects reaction formations which give rise to generous wishes to give mother a real baby (Kestenberg, Regression and Reintegration in Pregnancy, p.224).

The nagging of the mother Kestenberg notes no doubt has a relation to the nagging and complaining of Reich's masochistic character, that he links to an unconscious attempt to be loved.

The deadness of the abdomen or inner genital should be contrasted to the feelings of power there. The expression full of 'piss and vinegar' relates to this power as well as the images of the abdomen as powerfully alluring. Both belly dancers as well as object egoist males who want to 'ripped' in their abdomens or have '6 packs' show that the urethral stage has an expression in one causing desire in the other.  

So the egoistic positions seem straightforward when the social ontology and cognitive capacities at each stage are worked out (see the post on forms of perfection).

SE- and doing everything perfectly or knowing everything perfectly

OE- and causing desire through the abdomen/being the most seductive 

The altruistic positions are less so.

On the one hand we have the connection of giving the mother a baby. On the other, we know that self-assertion for the altruist only manifests at the phallic-oedipal, and that the trito-anal, like the trito-phallic, would be the enshrinement of the difference between the generations. So, it seems like the relationship to the baby, as the difference between the generations, means that the altruist isn't self-assertive here but assertive in regards to 'babies' or those of the younger generation. Cariot mentions narcissistic omnipotent mothering in one urethral character:

It could be shown in the analysis that the evacuation of urine during sleep was an auto-erotic act, a masturbatory substitute, as many dreams associated with the enuresis were of a definite symbolic sexual nature, an overflowing of repressed erotism…. In the relationship to her family, she manifested a strong sense of narcissistic omnipotence… (Cariot, The Character Traits of Urethral Erotism p.428-9)  

It's important to realize that 'narcissistic' is not always related to egoistic but rather to self-absorption. The altruist doesn't only act this way towards 'babies' but can act this way towards her grown up children or to friends. When he or she has a urethral relation to others and 'mothers' them this doesn't mean they possess the pre-conscious motivation that they are superior to these friends, but only that he or she has a drive to help, assist, or support people and the feeling that he or she has something that is generative, nurturing, (etc.). You can point out to the person that this indirectly means that they have a high estimation of their powers but to interpret this as a manifestation of will to power misses the phenomenology.

Annie Reich gives an interesting example of this:

Already in adolescence there were fantasies about having a house of his own, furnished in the most exquisite taste, in which he as a bachelor received guests for elaborate meals cooked by himself. He wished to surpass the mother's more simple tastes in her own field. To be the one who gives and feeds in the most refined way became most desirable. From the direct oral field, this fantasy expanded to many others. He wanted to be the one who guided and advised everybody else. He succeeded in creating a large circle of friends. His efforts in their behalf grew into a twenty-four-hour job. He tried to become their "therapist, " to give them money, to advise them inlove affairs, to provide jobs, find apartments, arrange trips, procure unobtainable theater tickets, to offer the most important ideas for their creative work, and so on. Here again, as in his work as a ghost writer unknown to the world, he was the creator of other people's fame and happiness. With this behavior he lived up to an ideal of an omniscient, all-powerful, all-giving mother (A, Reich, Early Identifications, p. 229). 

The object altruist is even harder to grasp here. There are two leads. One is 'pissing or spitting in the wind' in which the person wants to do something that is next to impossible. The other is the notion, once again, that the phallic drives represent 'doing something' and that the object altruist there is a musician, a humorist, or generally gives style within a domain of work (fashion, art, psychology). This means that as the SE wants to do everything perfectly, the OA would want to give himself style in everything and not in a certain domain. This seems like it could lend itself to grandiose goals that aren't attached to efficiency or small acts that can be done. I remember an OA I knew in high-school who wanted to drive a hearse and live in a graveyard and generally live out his 'gothic' aesthetics as much as possible without much thought about the practical aspects. I've also met some yoga teachers who also have managed to turn the practice of yoga, trips to India, retreats to other parts of the world, and a lot of scarves, big necklaces and earrings, slogans etc. into an aesthetic life.

So, the altruistic positions:

SA- mother, help, and 'grow' others,  the aim is not those who aren't helpless or damaged or deserving of pity but those who simply have some growing to do.

OA- those who make their lives stylish or those who recognize the 'character styles' of others in their 'energies' or 'vibes'  

The last thing I want to point to is the naive psychoanalytic formulation that makes these ego drives appear as a consequence of the anatomy as opposed to the identifications and ego ideals with the parents at different stages:

Many years ago Freud and Jones drew attention to the ambition of enuretics: they have to prove that they are able to do everything else particularly well, because they are unable to master something as simple as bladder control (Katan, Expereinces with Enuretics, p. 245).

Psychoanalysis, by attaching itself to idiosyncratic forms of aggression, affection, and bodily functions, allows for the most sophisticated type of phenomenology to have coordinates and checks. Myth, art, and idiom now become available for research and the pairings of motivations with the idiosyncratic impulses and functions can be checked against one another. The above quotation is surely deserving of the critique made by the relationist schools that classical psychoanalysis is a one person system. However, I have yet to see the 'relationists' make use of the ego ideal or of the bodily symbols of the intersubjective relations in any systematic way. 

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