Mother Nature and Father Time: Oedipal imbalance and the premature structuring of reality in the perversions

Blumenthal, Stephen (2019) Mother Nature and Father Time: Oedipal imbalance and the premature structuring of reality in the perversions. IJP Open . Full text available

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Mother Nature and Father Time are ever-present in the human story. Mother equals nurture, symbiosis and is chaos. Father stands for separation, lore, structure and culture. We need them both, but there is a toxic version of each: the Oedipal mother devours her infant in a perpetual symbiosis. The toxic father is violently intrusive. The psychoanalytic cure is based upon the restructuring of the Oedipal imbalances within the early object world. The technical challenges of one particular area of psychopathology; that of perversion, is instructive both for the treatment of such problems, as well as for psychoanalytic technique more generally. Perversion involves a series of compelling actions, an action narrative, which is used by the person afflicted as a solution to anxiety. I argue that the perverse enactment and its transference corollary represent premature attempts to introduce structure due to the terror of an intimate ego-to-ego engagement, because contact with the other and with the chaos of the internal world is experienced as potentially annihilating. I focus on the particular qualities of the superego in perversion, illustrated with a description of the psychotherapy of such a case. This elucidates the specific clinical pitfalls of working with such psychopathology. The perversion itself signifies the experience of a powerful (maternal) superego, more primitive, visceral and harsh than the (paternal) superego described by Freud as heir to the Oedipus Complex. This belongs to an early stage of development when nascent ego structures are tenuous. The notion of superego is broadened to include all aspects of our shared culture, not just the moral element described by Freud. Superego-to-superego contact is impersonal and relates to our shared culture and rituals; in the clinical context, the setting. This is different from ego-to-ego contact associated with emotional connectedness, the hallmark of good mothering and ultimately the aim of psychoanalytic treatment. Enactment in perversion indicates an attempt to prematurely structure reality in the absence of a reliable benign paternal object, and this is manifest in the here-and-now with the setting. This allows for safety, but at huge cost in terms of the capacity for object relating.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Oedipus Complex, Perversion
Subjects: Sex Psychology > Perversions
Subconscious & Unconscious, Personality > Psychoanalytic Personality Factors eg Ego
Department/People: Adult and Forensic Services

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