Masculine Scenarios

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'Human identity, sexual identity, primary and secondary identification, object choice, narcissism - all of these lie on a continuum with homosexuality, transsexualism, transvestism, heterosexuality and asexuality. Concepts on sexuality and gender are outlined anew in an interplay of theoretical and clinical networks, with the aim of increasing the efficiency of analytic praxis freed from prejudice and monolithic convention.'- Alcira Mariam Alizade, from the ForewordMasculine Scenarios is the third volume in a unique series edited by Alcira Mariam Alizade for the Committee on Women and Psychoanalysis of the International Psychoanalytical Association.Providing a forum for exploration and discussion of diverse issues relating to gender constructs, sexuality, and sexual identity, the series brings together an internationally renowned group of contributors trained in the psychoanalytic tradition.Masculine Scenarios concentrates on issues regarding the psychic world of men and male sexuality. The construction of gender identity, the battle of the sexes, transsexualism, homosexuality and masculinity are some of the topics discussed in this inspiring book.

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CHAPTER ONE: Sex and gender: the battle between body and soul

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Colette Chiland

Freud stated that all human beings are bisexual in nature, though he did go on to say that each of us belongs a little more to one sex than to the other. [Science] draws your attention to the fact that portions of the male apparatus also appear in women’s bodies, though in an atrophied state, and vice versa in the alternative case. It regards their occurrence as indications of Usexuality, as though an individual is not a man or a woman but always both—merely a certain amount more the one than the other (1933a, p. 114).

If what Freud said is correct, a struggle between the two sexes is an ongoing feature of every human being’s life. In some people, the dilemma is expressed in a very particular manner: the dichotomy—I would even go as far as to say the antagonism between factions-lies not between certain parts of the body nor between certain states of mind, but between mind and body as a whole. I am referring here, of course, to transsexuals.

In this chapter, I shall first discuss Freud’s concept of bisexuality, then go on to explore how every human being has to process these issues in his or her own mind in order to construct a sense of identity. Finally, I shall develop some ideas concerning the transsexual’s rejection of his or her genetic sex in an attempt to obtain “another” body, a “true” body that mirrors how the body is experienced in the mind.

 

CHAPTER TWO: Men and their bedrock: “repudiation of femininity”

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Alcim Mariam Alizade

Introduction

This paper discusses the repudiation of femininity as evidenced in the clinical material of a male patient. Freud often emphasized the problem that human beings, particularly men, have with femininity. He wrote:

It is to be suspected that the essentially repressed element is always what is feminine. This is confirmed by the fact that women as well as men admit more easily to experiences with women than with men. What men essentially repress is the paederastic element. [1897, Draft M, p. 251]

He returned to the subject in the last years of his life in “Analysis Terminable and Interminable” (1937) where, in the final chapter, he introduced the concept of “bedrock”. Bedrock represents the outer limit of analysis. It is a representational-affective complex that psychoanalytic work cannot fail to come up against, and characterizes the point at which the analytic approach can no longer operate.

According to Freud, both men and women patients experience these limitations. In women, the bedrock is represented by penis envy, while in men it is “repudiation of femininity” (Ablehnung der Weiblichkeit in German, Freud, 1937, Chap. 8). Ablehnung has variously been translated into Spanish as “disauthorization” (Amorrortu), “rejection” (Santiago Rueda) or “repudiation” (Biblioteca Nueva). I would like to add the milder connotation in the original German of “putting aside” or “refusal of a request”.2 When men are offered the possibility of taking on board the feminine position, they say “I pass”. The femininity they refuse constantly inhabits them and, through repetition, returns time and again in search of a way out via integration.

 

CHAPTER THREE: What do men want?

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Jacqueline Amati Mehler

Many years ago When feminism was at its height, a friend of mine, who was very sympathetic towards the women’s movement, said “very soon my fellow men will react and organize something like a ‘Man’s Syndicate’!” However, a man’s syndicate was not constituted, but what did occur was the flourishing of a vast “crisis literature”—especially in the USA—on male identity. Some authors, in reaction to feminist critique, tried to vindicate masculinity while others attempted to claim that men were more exploited than women. Many men, however, reacted to feminist critique with a serious revision of their own traditional gender values. While a lot has been written about women’s subordination and exploitation and about women’s sexual liberation, very few authors (some sociologists, many journalists, but almost no analysts) have attempted to explore the intimate and deep changes that the sexual liberation of women has brought about in the intimate relationship between men and women.

 

CHAPTER FOUR: Male sexuality and mental void

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Jaime M. Lutenberg

Introduction

Throughout his work, Freud gave sexuality a particular role, on which he based his whole theory. The complex difference between child and adult sexuality was drawn out of the concept of “drive”. The revolution generated on this premise, gave way to the following one hundred years of theory and practice of psychoanalysis. The interruption of a patient’s associative flow during the session, was one of the mysteries that surprised Freud. From this derived in his theoretical conceptualization of repression, resistance, and transference.

According to my experience, when many of the patients consulting nowadays remain silent during the session, they are simultaneously giving evidence of two different phenomena: (a) sometimes silence is directly derived from repression; or (b) silence is derived from the underlying mental void; there is nothing but a void behind the silence. The clinical difference between these phenomena is significant and leads to very different technical approaches.

 

CHAPTER FIVE: Offending gender being and wanting in male same-sex desire

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Martin Stephen Frommer

The hegemony of gender in theorizing sexuality has made sexual orientation the principal organizer of erotic experience. This has resulted in a heterosexual-homosexual binary in which male heterosexuality is presumed to hinge on the eroticization of difference, while male homosexuality has been understood as a desire for likeness. In this essay, I argue that this view of male same-sex desire is forced by the dominant heterosexist discourse that splits being and wanting into mutually exclusive categories for its understanding of normative heterosexual desire. Examining the psychic consequences of this forced splitting in both straight and gay men, I argue that subjective experiences of difference are no less central to same-sex desire and that, in gay and straight contexts alike, defensive forms of complementarity often wreak havoc with the capacity to love.

Intellect, in its effort to explain (desire), got stuck in the mud like an ass. [Rumi, 1207-1273; Persian]

[I]n love, there is a sort of antipathy, or opposing passion. Each strives to be the other, and both together make up one whole. [Samuel Taylor Coleridge, 1772-1824; English]

 

CHAPTER SIX: The battle of the sexes

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Jorge Kantor

The first thing one can clearly say about the battle of the sexes is that the conflict has not yet finished. Many and varied generations would be necessary (thanks to this mixture of Darwinism and Lamarckism in which human beings evolve), before men and women can achieve a good enough equilibrium in order openly to maintain that the long battle of the sexes has finally come to an end.

Freud, in “Civilization and its Discontent”, would have said that it is difficult to believe that the human species will be able to reach such a level of satisfaction. But, let us agree, at least, that this new millennium comes with the hope of achieving a better understanding between the loving enemies.

Although it would be politically correct to insist on the equivalence between men and women, emphasizing common themes since we are all members of the same species, a psychoanalytical framework is forced to acknowledge the existence of the differences in gender as an essential starting point. In other words, for psychoanalysis, brain and mind possess a sexual identity.

 

CHAPTER SEVEN: The loneliness of the homosexual

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Juan-David Nasio

The reasons why people consult a psychoanalyst are not as wide-ranging as one might think. Basically, they relate to the typical themes of all human life: sexual problems, family conflicts, and issues involving work-place relationships. In terms of the symptoms we are asked to deal with, I would say the phobic patient’s fears, the depressed patient’s despondency, the hysteric’s passionate and tormented lifestyle, and, last but not least, the sheer torture that the obsessional patient’s thoughts create.

As to the feeling of unease in contemporary society, I would say without a shadow of a doubt that the main predicament is the problematic question of masculine self-identity. It is quite obvious that the principal dilemma—and the situation is likely to become worse—lies in the steady loss of reference marks that define manliness. This is one of the most distressing dilemmas that I encounter almost on a daily basis in my clinical work: many patients seek help for sexual impotence, premature ejaculation or, more generally, because they find it more and more difficult to know what it means to be a man in a love relationship, a father in the family, or a manager in the work-place.

 

CHAPTER EIGHT: The presence of males in abortion discourse and practices

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Juan-Guillermo Figueroa-Perea

Introduction

The aim of this article is to propose certain reflections on the different kinds of participation that males have in the interruption of a pregnancy, both in the practice of abortion per se and in defining norms and criteria for it. The complexity of this issue stems, in the first place, from the fact that males play a secondary role as subjects that reproduce; for that reason, they are not informants sought out by several disciplines when attempting to reconstruct the population’s reproductive experiences. Rather, identifying their characteristics and behaviours is useful mostly for determining the manner in which they influence women’s reproduction and the economic stratification of the populations in which analyses are conducted.

To a certain extent, it is assumed that it is right to consider women as the persons most closely responsible for biological reproduction, while men are identified as actors in processes involving social reproduction. On the basis of these assumptions, information is produced to support strategies for social organization in the sphere of reproductive behaviours, and thus differential strategies are generated for dealing with men and women.

 

CHAPTER NINE: The sexed body and the real-its meaning in transsexualism

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Leticia Glocer Fiorini & Agueda Gimenez de Vainer

Introduction

In psychoanalysis, theoretical notions concerning the body are particularly relevant and remain a subject of debate. There are many planes involved in the concept of body. On the one hand, there are the meanings assigned to the body in clinical practice: the body of hysteria and of psychosomatic illness, the body of the actual nucleus of the neuroses, the body of transsexualism, all present specific problems. On the other hand, there are the meanings attached and attributed to the body by the cultural discourse of each historical moment.

All subjects construct a specific relationship with their body on the basis of meanings given by the parents’ discourses and desires, which intersect with a body that has drives. The relation between the anatomic body, the erogenous body, and the meanings constructed by individuals, structures a complex field that brings together many variables, none of which should be ignored.

The sexed body raises some of the most relevant questions in psychoanalysis. How is the sexed body constituted? How does it influence the processes of subjectivation? Is the sexed body a factor that puts order into an itinerary and sets a limit to processes related to access to the difference between the sexes? Or is it an envelope-support that can be modified to the point of the possibility of radically changing sex or sexed identity?

 

CHAPTER TEN: Masculinity revisited: a self-deconstruction

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John Munder Ross

It is now about ten years since I last wrote about men and collected my contributions on the subject in a book distilling two decades of work on it—What Men Want (Ross, 1994). Instead of generalizations about themes such as fatherhood and masculinity, I have since turned my attention more to form than to content in psychic life. That is, to the nature of therapeutic action at critical and mutative moments in the analytic process and to our history and the influence of subjective and extrinsic factors on our theorizing and subsequent technique.

It is in the spirit of the latter, of understanding why we choose to believe what we do at any given time, that I will now revisit and deconstruct my earlier research and conceptual reflections on male development. A retrospective of this sort, acknowledging the biases in one’s own work, may be painful at times. However, examinations of our psychoanalytic past, and consequent epistemology, are essential to the viability of our field’s future.

 

CHAPTER ELEVEN: Boy’s envy of mother and the consequences of this narcissistic mortification

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Ruth F. Lax

From the many threads that form the matrix of male psychosexual development, this paper considers and examines only the narcissistic injury caused by the boy’s realization that he will never attain mother’s femaleness and procreative capacity. Although both boys and girls envy and covet mother’s powerful bounty, there is a fundamental experiential difference between the sexes in that the girl can take comfort in her knowledge that, being like mother, she will mature to attain mother’s female attributes. The boy, however, when he learns and acknowledges that he is different from mother, must recognize that his wish to attain mother’s procreativity is doomed to fail. This fact evokes in him a painful narcissistic mortification that, usually inadequately repressed, may have lifelong consequences.

Introduction

Papers about men’s envy of women, especially of women’s procreative powers, are rare in the analytic literature. What papers there are have no follow-up or follow through—they are lost and forgotten. Boehm (1930), Jacobson (1950), Wisdom (1983), and Ross (1975), among others, attribute this paucity of adequate discussion to a resistance many analysts share that interferes with their recognition and acknowledgement of womb envy. This resistance is supported by the prevalent societal stereotypes.

 

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