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XXIII CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE THEORY OF THE ANAL CHARACTER (1921)

Abraham, Karl Karnac Books ePub

THE wide field which is open to the science of psychoanalysis at the present time offers an abundance of instances of the rapid increase of psychological knowledge along the lines of purely inductive investigation. Perhaps the most remarkable and instructive of these is the development of the theory of the anal character. In 1908, about fifteen years after the appearance of his first contributions to the psychology of the neuroses, Freud published a short paper entitled ‘Character and Anal Erotism’, It occupied only three pages of a journal, and was a model of condensed statement and of cautious and clear summing up. The gradually increasing number of his co-workers, among whom may be mentioned Sadger, Ferenczi, and Jones, has helped to extend the range of ascertained knowledge. The theory concerning the products of the transformation of anal erotism gained unsuspected significance when in 1913, following on Jones’ important investigation on ‘Hate and Anal Erotism in the Obsessional Neurosis’, Freud formulated an early ‘pregenital’ organization of the libido. He considered that the symptoms of the obsessional neurosis were the result of a regression of libido to this stage of development, which is characterized by a preponderance of the anal and sadistic component instincts. This threw a new light both on the symptomatology of the obsessional neurosis and on the characterological peculiarities of the person suffering from it—on the so-called ‘ obsessional character’, I might add, anticipating a future publication, that very similar anomalies of character are found in those people who tend to melancholic or manic states of mind. And the strictest possible study of the sadistic-anal character-traits is necessary before we can proceed to investigate those last mentioned diseases which are still so enigmatical to us. The present study is mainly concerned with the anal contributions to the formation of character. Jones’2 last great work on this subject presents an abundance of valuable material, but it does not exhaust it. For the work of a single person cannot do justice to the multiplicity and complexity of the phenomena ; each analyst who possesses data of his own should publish them, and so help to contribute to the body of psycho-analytical knowledge. In the same way the purpose of the following remarks is to extend the theory of the anal character-traits in certain directions. Another problem of great theoretical importance will be very frequently alluded to in this study. Up to the present we understand only very incompletely the particular psychological connections that exist between the two impulses of sadism and anal erotism which we always mention in close association with each other, almost as a matter of habit. And I shall attempt the solution of this question in a later paper.

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I. THE EXPERIENCING OF SEXUAL TRAUMAS AS A FORM OF SEXUAL ACTIVITY (1907)

Abraham, Karl Karnac Books ePub

FREUD’S original theory of the aetiology of hysteria has undergone important alterations in the course of time. As he himself has pointed out,2 however, two important points remain unchanged in it, namely, sexuality and infantilism, the significance of which he has investigated more and more deeply,

Among other things, the problem of sexual traumas in youth has been affected by the alterations that the general theory of sexuality and of the neuroses has undergone. For some time Freud regarded those traumas as the ultimate source of hysterical phenomena, and assumed that they were discoverable in all cases of hysteria. But he has not been able to maintain this view in its original form. In the paper referred to he assigns a secondary role to sexual traumas in youth and assumes the presence of an abnormal psycho-sexual constitution as the primary cause of a neurosis. This view accords with the fact that not all children who experience a sexual trauma suffer later on from hysteria. According to Freud, children who are disposed to hysteria react in an abnormal manner to sexual impressions of all kinds in consequence of their abnormal disposition. I recently showed that infantile sexual traumas occurred in the psychoses 3 as well; and I put forward the view that the trauma could not be regarded as the cause of the disease, but that it exercised an influence on the form taken by it. I agreed with Freud’s assumption of an abnormal psycho-sexual constitution in the patient.

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IV. HYSTERICAL DREAM-STATES (1910)

Abraham, Karl Karnac Books ePub

IN a recently published paper,2 Lowenfeld has dealt with certain peculiar disturbances in neurotics which have not previously been given sufficient consideration in the literature of the subject. As an introduction to my subject I will quote Lowenfeld’s general description of these states. He says: ‘The external world does not make the usual impression on the patient. Familiar and every-day things seem changed, as though they were unknown, new and strange; or the whole surroundings give the impression of being the product of a phantasy, an illusion, a vision. In the latter case in particular it seems to the patients as though they were in a dream, or half asleep, or were hypnotized or somnambulic; and they generally speak of these conditions as their dream-states.’ The author also says that these states differ greatly in degree, exhibit considerable variations in their duration, are often associated with the affect of anxiety and are, as a rule, accompanied by other nervous symptoms, Lowenfeld bases his description on a considerable number of medical histories. I myself have come across these states in a number of patients whom I have treated by psycho-analysis. Since these dream-states have not been dealt with from a psycho-analytical point of view up to the present, I will give the main results of my observations in the following pages. They form a further addition to the knowledge derived from psycho-analysis concerning the nature of episodic phenomena in the clinical picture of hysteria.

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III. THE PSYCHOLOGICAL RELATIONS BETWEEN SEXUALITY AND ALCOHOLISM (1908)

Abraham, Karl Karnac Books ePub

IT is an undisputed fact that, generally speaking, men are more prone to taking alcohol than women. Eventhough in many countries women daily take alcohol as a matter of course just like men, and though in many places intoxicated women are often seen in the streets, still alcohol is never associated with the social life of women to anything like the extent that it is with that of men. There are wide circles in which to be a hard drinker is looked upon as a sign of manliness, even as a matter of honour. Society never demands in this way that women should take alcohol. It is the custom with us rather to condemn drinking as unwomanly; nor is drinking ever a matter of boasting among normal women as it is among men.

It seems to me worth inquiring whether this difference in the attitude of men and women towards alcohol rests on sexual differences. But such an inquiry must start from the newer conceptions of the psycho-sexual constitution of men and women as laid down in Freud’s works 2 in especial. It is a biological fact that the human body contains the genital organs of both sexes in a rudimentary form. In the course of its normal development one of the two sets of organs is suppressed or takes over other activities, whilst the other goes on developing until it is capable of performing its true functions. An analogous process takes place in the psychosexual sphere. Here, too, the differentiation of the sexes proceeds from an original state of bi-sexuality. In childhood the expressions of the sexual instincts in boys and girls are still very much alike.

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IX. RESTRICTIONS AND TRANSFORMATIONS OF SCOPOPHILIA IN PSYCHO-NEUROTICS J WITH REMARKS ON ANALOGOUS PHENOMENA IN FOLK-PSYCHLOGY (1913) .169

Abraham, Karl Karnac Books ePub

THE sexual component-instinct of scopophilia, or pleasure in looking, is—like its counterpart, exhibitionism, or pleasure in displaying—subject to numerous restrictions and transformations. Under normal conditions both instincts, which are allowed free expression in early childhood, are subjected to a considerable measure of repression and sublimation later on. In psycho-neurotics these instincts are inhibited and transformed to a very much greater degree than in normal people; while at the same time they carry on a continual struggle against the forces of repression.

In a short paper 2 Freud has laid down certain lines of thought which open the way to a deeper insight into the neurotic inhibitions and transformations of the scopo-philic instinct. He makes use of his theory of the erotogenic zones and component-instincts, and speaks as follows concerning the scopophilic instinct and its erotogenic zone, the eyes: ‘The eyes perceive not only those modifications in the external world which are of import for the preservation of life, but also the attributes of objects by means of which these may be exalted as objects of erotic selection, their “ charms “. We now perceive the truth of the saying that it is never easy to serve two masters at the same time. The more intimate the relation of an organ possessing such a duality of function with one of the great instincts, the more will it refuse itself to the other.’

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