Wednesday, February 5, 2014

My First Book

I've recently had some good news.

My book The Economics of the Libido: Psychic Bisexuality, the Superego, and the Centrality of the Oedipus Complex has been accepted for publication by Karnac.

I'm also very close to finishing the The Symptom Reading, which will show the application of the theory to film and also provide a way of generating further data.

Here'a a brief synopsis:

This book is a return to Freud qua psychologist and philosopher in order to affirm the centrality of the Oedipus Complex, understand the contributions of personality to gender, and illustrate the characterological functioning of the pre-phallic-oedipal superego. This book is also an attempt to begin the work of synthesizing the different schools of psychoanalysis into a unified theory. Thus, I show the neo-Freudian, the Kleinian, the Reichian characterologist, etc. in Freud and criticize the interpretations of ego psychologists and, by implication, the Lacanians, self-psychologists, and relational schools that place too much emphasis on linguistically mediated values, and thereby affirm an ideologically based atomistic individual. The central argument I make in the text, under the heading of social ontology, is that Freud gives a model of the personality that is built upon the primary relatedness of the individual through the ego and object drives. An individual doesn’t rationally choose to be ambitious, shy, arrogant, or kind based upon values but, rather, these are part of his ‘psychical constitution’ of ego and object drives and their relation to the superego. The importance of this can be understood by implication that, all things being equal, much of political behavior can be understood as issuing from the emphasis of active- egoistic (Republican) or passive-altruistic (Democrat) drives in the individual.    

   In the first chapter I examine the passive and active in psychoanalysis in Freud’s concept of psychic bisexuality. Here I examine Freud’s psychological remarks to translate his generic terms into common language and, in doing so, I seek to corroborate his views with the work of other major analysts. Ultimately, I argue that activity and passivity basically stand for egoism and altruism and that they are different than masculine and feminine which have their own form in each pole. Along the egoistic pole I point out that someone can be narcissistic or possess an attitude of superiority (arrogance, vanity) about their physical or intellectual potency (subject egoism) as well as about their beauty, aesthetic refinements, or judging the lack of virtues in others (object egoism). Additionally, I point out that someone can masochistically put the desires of others before her own (subject altruism) or masochistically desire the approval of others or have the need to be liked or be seen as interesting by others (object altruism). The former is tied to 'people-pleasing', being 'self-effacing' etc. and the latter is tied to being a 'people person', endearing, and wanting to be the center of attention but not for admiration of one's skills or potency but to share enthusiasm, or to be interesting.

   In the second chapter I use David Milrod, as a recent exponent of ego psychology, to criticize the popular understanding of the Oedipus complex and superego and show several major misinterpretations of Freud’s work.  I show that Freud identified the subsequent ‘father complex’ as the point at which the guilt conscience arises and not the Oedipus complex. Moreover, this guilt conscience isn’t based upon linguistically mediated values for Freud but draws its strength against aggressive actions due to prohibition from a parental imago (or internalization of the parent). Ultimately, I argue that the centrality of the Oedipus complex is that it is a modification of the ego and object drives so that the individual recognizes ‘father-substitutes’ who are granted a transference of having more skill or knowledge than one. Thus, a highschool diploma, BA, MA, doctorate, etc. broadly represent “maturation” and interactions with father substitutes, as can someone who makes more money or has membership to different prestigious clubs. In the process of seeking recognition one may receive a narcissistic injury from a father substitute and this is what makes the Oedipus complex the central complex.  Any culture that recognizes the difference between neophytes and elders with more knowledge or skill (or magic) demonstrates the existence of the Oedipus complex. However, the castration complex, in which one gets into a rivalry with father substitutes in seeking to become one’s own father, doesn’t exist in every culture. Lastly, I show, contra ego psychologists, that the superego has both pre-phallic oedipal forms and continues developing into latency. The later developments have important implications for political behavior and I show the implications that this more nuanced view has for both clinicians as well as connections that can be made with sociology, gender studies, and the understanding of ideology.

   In the third chapter I examine how the pre-oedipal superego shows up in character by linking Freud’s work to the transcendental idealism of the philosopher Kant. Contra ego psychologists, Lacanians, self-psychologists, and relational psychoanalysts who place their weight on the need for a sophisticated cognition to navigate a sophisticated world and thus relegate the pre-oedipal to the phantasy in pathology, I show that classical psychoanalysis is justified in many of its insights. By placing primacy on social, instead of individual, ontology, Freud anchors seemingly complex concepts not in individual understanding but in the relationship to parental imagos. I argue that Freud and other classical analysts provide the foundation for four different ontologies that correspond to the auto-erotic, the narcissistic, the anal, and the phallic stage. They in turn correspond with the subjective encounter with Space, Time, the Superlative, and Prestige and are rooted in Freud’s conception of negativity underpinning the transference and sense of perfection of the parents. I use epic films such as Star Wars and Lord of the Rings to illustrate how egoistic drives, for example, can interact with father substitutes who are seen as more skilled or knowledgeable (phallic-Darth Vader), the most powerful or closest to omniscient  (anal- The Emperor), as using magic or psychic powers that are based upon the power of wishes overpowering time (i.e. investigating the efficacy of these wishes) (narcissistic-‘the force’),  and as the creation of a new fantasy world that rivals our world (auto-erotic- the location of new worlds in a ‘far off galaxy’) 

   The last section is an appendix that provides Wittgenstein’s private language argument. I’ve included it because it gives justification for the phenomenological/ common language approach I used in order to establish psychic bisexuality and it allows me to preempt a lot of criticism my approach will receive. Wittgenstein’s private language argument on one hand, shows that standard arguments of humanity’s rational nature from things like mathematics don’t actually work. On the other hand, it shows that sensation, emotional, and motivational language can’t arise from introspection and must arise from EQ or judgment of the behavior and actions of others that can be shared among experts.  I broadly separate views that don’t recognize a dialectic between the inputs of individual personality and culture into three errors: mechanistic, relativistic, and mystical. This is based upon whether they ignore the value of consciousness in understanding motivations, place motivation solely in cultural determination, or claim an atomistic rational essence and will (respectively).

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