Unless we can understand these pathological forms of sexuality and can coordinate them with normal sexual life, we cannot understand normal sexuality either.
…unmixed purity which mankind has never been able to find in pleasure since the First Sin…
Instead of analysing the creative writer, there is much to be learned from him, as Freud already acknowledged in his correspondence with Arthur Schnitzler.3
The youngest of love's victims whom Proust describes in his youth is a sickly boy of about ten years old. He is in love with an older girl for whom he longs terribly in his phantasy.4 In his disillusionment, he jumps from a window, after tormenting himself at length with the idea that his beloved is unattainable to him. This story heralds the themes of love, guilt, and death that would continue to play such a central role in Proust's work. Either you murder your mother by having a private love and sexual life without her permission, or you perish from fear, rage, and depression which are the result of love's frustrations, is roughly how Proust explains his basic view of love.
Introduction to sadomasochism in the clinical realm
Harriet I. Basseches, Paula L. Ellman and Nancy R. Goodman
This book examines the forces of sadomasochism in the clinical domain where transference and countertransference reside. This is a clinically centred book in which psychoanalysts write in depth about cases where sadomasochism is present for analysand and analyst. Four cases present the unfolding analytic exchange where life and death forces collide. Psychoanalysts from varying schools of thought provide clinical material and discussions on each case illuminating the complex phenomena that often include lifelong perversions and painful narcissistic difficulties. Through the four case presentations and each of their three discussions, psychoanalytic therapists will find maps for guiding their own work with sadomasochistic processes. Cases where sadomasochism is prominent abound with dramas containing control and denigration, domination and submission. Often there is history of overstimulation and under-stimulation from infancy and childhood.
In Spring 1949, I accepted an invitation to advise a local branch of the Family Welfare Association on some disturbed families. My thinking then was still mainly in the concepts of individual psycho-dynamics of the analytic consulting room or clinic. Looking back, however, the assumptions set out in the two preceding chapters were there, for example in certain parts of my Clinical Studies in Psycho-pathology,1 especially in the chapters ‘The Play of Opposites’ and ‘Abnormalities of Sexual Function’, and also the overall significance of the dependence need as a factor in psychopathology.
The War of 1939-45 sharpened our awareness, as Service psychiatrists, of epidemiological and group aspects of mental behaviour and illness. Sociological and anthropological concepts and methods became relevant, for example, in work on the comparison of Nazi and non-Nazi Germans, in which hypotheses developed in the field of ‘culture and personality’ found fruitful application.2 At the same time, my colleagues in the Army’s psychiatric and selection services studied group dynamics and social dislocation, to name only those areas which required techniques with which to handle the ‘group’ structure of disturbed families and marriages, as mentioned in the Introduction. In 1947 I found myself contributing a chapter on ‘Mental Hygiene’ to a symposium volume, in which again the interest in marital interaction cropped up.3 My membership of the interprofessional Preparatory Commission for the International Congress on Mental Health (loc. cit.) afforded me the support of its close concordance with my growing sense that the quality of marital life was a crucial factor in moulding the personalities of children, and thus the psycho-social climate of the future. This much I had learnt not only from psychotherapeutic practice but also by the detailed survey of the effect of family patterns on the making of Nazis, in contrast to non-Nazis among German prisoners of war. Similar differences were found valid for Americans in the study of The Authoritarian Personality.4 An influence which unconsciously persisted through more than ten years, was that of the late H. von Hattingberg’s book5 on male-female conflict patterns. His views were well in advance of current psychiatric and psychoanalytic thought.
Trauma sometimes happens to us. It is a profound psycho-physical experience, even if the traumatic event or events cause the person affected no direct physical harm. As mentioned previously, some people have experienced long-term levels of extreme stress that have actually traumatized them: there does not have to be one single event or incident, or even several. It can happen from a build-up to high levels of ongoing stress over a considerable period of time that creates a situation that is extremely stressful to the point of being traumatic.
We are gradually realizing that trauma, and the effects of trauma, constitute a special case and need specialized handling, mainly because the symptoms do not seem to go away unless this happens, and because it is all to easy to retraumatize an already traumatized person, even in therapy.
The traumatized person often remembers or re-experiences the physical and emotional sensations of the traumatic event, but is usually unable to affect or modulate these experiences in any way. They can feel shocked and helpless and often feel overwhelmed again—simply from the startle effect of the memory or the flashback. Over time, the affects usually decline and lessen, though a particular situation or circumstance (smell, noise, sight) might trigger the memory and the traumatic reaction once more.