Saturday, September 24, 2016

children as an imago

I've used mythology before (ex. elves and dwarves) to discuss differences between egoists and altruists.

The dwarves' pursuit of precious metals/gems in mines was contrasted with Elves' harmony with the forest, and a larger discussion of the egoist's interest in things (inanimate possessions) vs. the elves and the mystical or other-worldly was discussed.

This early relation, which at this point seems to be at the auto-erotic stage, gives us a template for looking at the roots of relation to phallic symbols at later stages of development.

Freud, Ruth Mack Brunswick, and other analysts have argued that the phallus and the child have an equivalence. Freud stated it in the baby standing for feces, gift, and phallus but the other analysts have shown that it's an important symbol/relation at other stages too.

The longer I practice psychoanalysis, the more I've come to see that the loss of a child, the aggressive wish to deprive a child from the beloved, and the use of the child as an externalization of one's own anxieties is very important in the economics of libido/punishment.

On this blog I've shared some clinical techniques for working with defenses which show the importance of the superego in conceptualizing mental pathology.

For example, in someone who compulsively feels that they must schedule and maximize their use of time there is often a conflict in which they that feel this "thou shalt be like the father (and perfectly use the reality of Time)" is a burden. They procrastinate, watch youtube videos, or do other things to distract themselves. The superego thou shalt is undermined and felt as ego alien or ego dystonic. Feeling the superego to be this way allows the patient to talk about it as a part of them that is an "asshole" or "annoying" etc. and when these are turned into you-statements, it can lead the person to an external conflict with a parental-substitute that underpins it.

I've struggled to extend this technique and have found that many dissociative states can be handled similarly.

Some people are the opposite of compulsive with their relation to Time. They have no structure, they let bills or meetings go unpaid or unmet, and generally feel like things will work out for them.

Once they can see and identify with the formulation that they act as if Time will take care of them, then you can ask them describe the relation of how Time might see them (as if Time was a person). Time might "protect" them and then you have to elicit from them, what kind of person needs protection (i.e. a weak person, a helpless person, etc.).

The words that are personal to the patient are important and though the analyst might have a sense of the relation that is going on, the proper words are needed to serve as a bridge to an external loss.

Once the relation is described and a description of the patient from the point of view of Time is constructed, it can be turned into you-statements. My experience, so far, is that it leads to the individual's loss of a child or children.

It is similar with the relation of a patient to Space.

Many echoists (altruists) can express their lives as living for others and that they don't know who they are, what they want, and often what they even feel. Their "self" doesn't exist, in their estimation, and they can talk freely about needing to "find themselves."

The important relation to Space here is the relation of being able to tolerate emotions. These people aren't flat in the way that the affect blocked egoist is flat, but rather, they aren't able to tolerate feelings.

Subjectively, they experience the feeling of emotions being pushed out of their consciousness after they get overwhelming. This something that pushes their feelings out, which doesn't allow their feelings to have any Space in their internal Space, is also a "protector," "a mother or parent," "a rescuer" who is trying to protect, take care of, or rescue the patient. This relation can be spelled out and you-statements constructed. And, again, this has consistently led to children so far.

So, instead of just interactions with parent-substitutes (those above one), sibling substitutes (those equal to one), and these considered in the variations of the proto, deutero, and trito stages that I've isolated, there is also a relation to children. Moreover, I brought up the elves and dwarves above because it's probably also a relation to the phallus too. The question is whether it is its own relation, or whether it is a defense against a parent or sibling relation.

(note: in a previous post I brought up how phallic symbols also exist for altruists. For example, all the little statues on Freud's desk and all the knick knacks that some people have on their shelves or on display in their home, are essentially little children. Similarly, in the Spike Jonze's Her, I brought up how the letters or cards that the protagonist would write for others are phallic symbols to make up for the lack of altruistic empathy and care that a husband, wife, or child may suffer from. The altruist fills this lack for the person lacking these feelings/words. However, it's also possible to read these things not just as a phallus, but as a child too. In the movie there is a scene in which a woman wants to help the protagonist have sexual intimacy with his AI girlfriend. In this relation the child wants to help the fighting or distant parents enjoy each other sexually by joining in herself. The letter or birthday card serves the same relation. Without knowing the person and their individual economics of libido/punishment, it is difficult to know if these are compromise formations between the egoistic and altruistic poles, or if for example, altruistic symbols are also expressed through 'things' on their own.)

These questions in symbols are interesting, but the important one is whether the child exists as its own true imago relation or as a derivative.

One last thought on this is Freud's observation that the wish for the phallus becomes the wish for a child  in the woman. Although criticized for this, the critics often mistake the penis for the phallus. It is a fact that one can see how many women (and some men too) are most interested in finding romantic love when they are young, but after some disappointments, they begin to desire a child more than romantic love. This is the movement from phallus to baby. Penis envy is something different and is an alternative expression of Oedipal, Electral, Antigonal, Bellerophonal conflict. Triangulation can occur in love relationships, in social relationships, in sexual difference, etc. Viewed in this way, the desire for a child is a derivative. But, is this always the case?

Similarly, doesn't a man's preoccupation with cars, gadgets, or things that are phallic symbols a derivative for failures in being able to manifest one's perfection in competition with others? If one still felt he was going to be the first in his field or win admiration in his writing or become very rich through his talents, would he lose time and energy in the preoccupation with going to car shows and seeing rare cars, reading up on the latest technology and coveting something he doesn't need for his work? That being said, I know that there are very productive and intelligent people who still have idiosyncratic interest and hobbies, so, economically, we'd talk about how they had ego injuries in the past and how they have refused with the paternal imago subsequently...  

No comments:

Post a Comment