Monday, March 25, 2013

Ego vs. Object Drives: repression

I want to clarify something.

I initially took Freud's ego vs. object drives to constitute psychic bisexuality. I thought Freud wrongly ascribed the man with the true anaclitic idealization and that the object drives were properly feminine. Then I found Freud's remarks on egoism and altruism and began to realize that the ego drives could have both egoistic and altruistic expression and that the object drives could express sensual love that wanted to possess, control, and would lead to hate and spiritual love that wanted to merge and resonate with the beloved, and would lead to aloneness when the object was away.

However, it is clear that these subject egoist and altruist expressions are still subject to repression and that Freud, contra Jung, wanted a conflict to explain this process.

I've mentioned in other posts that the high ego ideal (phallic deutero) in the object egoist can lead to the repression of object drives. A 'vain' woman doesn't find male admirers who match her own high estimation of her attractiveness and so she represses her object drives for interest in cultural matters (usually morality but aesthetics and other pursuits are possible). A subject egoist can similarly endure a disappointment in love and afterwards begin to resent women for not admiring his skill or pursuit that makes him exceptional.

I haven't written much about the altruist in this regard. Deutsch writes:

There is a group of women who constitute the main body figuring in the statistics which give the large percentage of frigidity. The women in question are psychically healthy, and their relation to the world and to their libidinal object is positive and friendly. If questioned about the nature of their experience in coitus, they give answers which show that the conception of orgasm as something to be experienced by themselves is really and truly foreign to them. During intercourse what they feel is a happy and tender sense that they are giving keen pleasure and, if they do not come of a social environment where they have acquired full sexual enlightenment, they are convinced that coitus as a sexual act is of importance only for the man. In it, as in other relations, the woman finds happiness in tender, maternal giving (Deutsch, The Significance of Masochism in the Mental Life of Women, p. 59).

This type of woman has chosen to stay in a love relationship out of altruistic impulses for the other person and has repressed her object drives of being able to idealize the other. Her object drives find expression in 'crushes' on different celebrities but she is eminently loyal to her family. Instead of her high self-regard causing repression, it is her inability to hurt the other person's feelings and the feeling that breaking up with them would do so. With the Object altruist the repression of object drives comes from a similar principle of finding someone who strategically helps one display one's individuality to the world. This 'front' is chosen over love which, as with all the other types, followed a narcissistic injury or disappointment in love, so that phobos came to dominate over eros. The fear of putting oneself out on a limb meets the ego ideal (either egoistic or altruistic) and represses the object drives.

This does raise the question of whether the object drives can repress the ego drives...

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