Different psychoanalytic positions regarding sex, sexuality and gender.

  • ene 2020

Contribution to a possible debate with Paul B. Preciado and Jean-Claude Maleval.

Alfredo Eidelsztein

Translated into English by Lic. Cristina Sánchez.

According to Sigmund Freud, normal stages of development process of each individual consists in the confluence of gender identity with its biological sex -he said: «anatomy is destiny»-; so normal and expected sexuality is defined as male or female depending on its biological sex, a man would be a male and a woman would be a female. He recognizes that this is not always the case, but this would be the ideal evolutionary process for every individual in any society and culture.

Freud proposes that at the end of psychosexual stages the choice of “a sexual object” takes place, so he must give an account of this process by which each human being arrives or should arrive at a choice in which the biological and sexual identity match together. The «machine» that produces such a result is, according to his conceptions, when Oedipus Complex is resolved, a boy becomes a male and a girl a female. However when advancing his theoretical developments he had to admit a homosexuality quota even in normal cases. For such purposes: a woman being a mother and a man being a father must fulfill specific functions of each sex within the family in the child’s early childhood. Since this is a normal result, Freud must also specify the universal properties of masculine and feminine. A man must be dominant, since a male libido is active and a woman has to be dominated since her libido is passive; the pivotal role of being a man then goes through his active and judicious management of reality, his transformation and dominance and the role of a woman, more passionate, at home, is to have children and child rearing them. The strong superego of the first enables it to such a social function and the weak one of the second prevents it or should do so.

The phallus, a fundamental element of Freudian Oedipus, is the symbol of power and action, therefore it is admired and ambitious. A man will fear losing it -castration anxiety- and a woman will feel the harm of not possessing it -penis envy-. Thus, if a woman is too active and powerful or seeks to be, she will receive a warning of. falling into the figure of “phallic woman”. The latter was not stated by Freud himself, but by his disciples who developed his ideas.

From these conceptions the positions gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer,   transvestite, etc., are the result of Oedipus failure as well as father and mother functions. Therefore, it is a theory that generates guilt, even today, not only within «deviant» but also in their parents, a blame suffered even by those who do not have psychoanalytic training

 

 

Jacques Lacan, on the other hand, states that «man», «woman» and «child» are only signifiers. In his theoretical model this implies, at least, two fundamental considerations: a) as such those signifiers mean nothing by themselves, they only consist of the difference they maintain with all the others and b) if they are signifiers they do not have any relationship neither with nature nor with biology. The impossibility of matching «man» with male, «woman» with female and «child» with young is what his formula states: «There is no sexual relationship.» There are sexual practices but no sexual relationship, a natural sexual condition has been lost from the beginning and forever for the subject of the signifier,

The paternal metaphor will be the “machine” that, according to Lacan, will realize an account of how in each story inscribes that no representative of A (the place of language, logic and truth), that is, no Other, can match that one. The function of the paternal metaphor is to legislate for each case that: Other ≠ A. Neither mothers, nor  fathers nor grandparents either any instance of representation of the authority that has operated in a story can take over the power of language, which although suffer from an inherent «not-all», what is written % (capital A letter crossed out), is the only source of power. If the «machine» operated in its specific function there will be no omnipotent instance. The paternal metaphor will also end up providing meaning to the subject, not sexual identity as in Oedipus or any definitive. «Mother’s Desire» does not refer to other, but to the Incarnation of the Other (mother, father, couple of moms or dads, or …) and «Father-Name» will be the function that will operate as such if the power does not match either the father or anyone; the law that establishes is that which states that nobody can embody law himself.

Lacan obtains such designations, Mother and Father, from the history of the Indo-European, in which it is clearly distinguished between «Pater», pure mythological function, as in the case of Ius Pater: Jupiter, exclusively a name and «dad», the relative nutrient and «Mater» of mom, as in the case of «Mother Earth»; in the same system in which the fraternal bond (Frater) does not match either because they belong to the same biological fratry of sharing the same uterus (Adelphos). For the former (Pater, Mater and Frater) it is impossible to designate the latter (dad, mom and blood brother). Each historical time and society will suffer its specific deception of false embodies of Father-Name function: King, High Priest, Master, Father with parental authority and, in the present western culture, life sciences, etc. Even, according to Lacan, the Name-of-the-Father does not skip changes of contexts and frameworks, that is why it must be replaced by the Names-of-the-Father, a plural that, in turn, forces us to think of different symbolic orders. For Lacan it is not about moving from geocentrism to heliocentrism, from Oedipus’ mother to father, but from the absence of any center in every symbolic order, as it is known since the true revolution, that of J. Kepler, not that of N Copernicus, and the establishment of the elliptical orbits of the planets, in which the sun is located in one focus and nothing in the other.

The phallus, among the various meanings that it has in Lacan’s theory regarding the theme of these lines, inscribes the fundamental property of the signifier in relation to the  naturalness of sexual, that is the impossibility of eliminating the presence of Aidos , the devil of modesty or the deity of dignity, the mark that falls on the sexual and sexuality because of its significant unnatural origin; This is verified, for example, in the need for: ritual, veil, certain clothes, ornaments, private scene, darkness, money, etc., present in one way or another in significant sexuality.

But in each story, be it a subject, a family or a people the signifiers not only work as pure differences but also enter chains, some of which are repeated and insist, so they can be quoted and when this happens the signifiers that compose them have been transformed into letters. A letter is, in Lacan’s theory, the state that the signifier acquires when it is located. It receives, for this reason, a meaning or an enduring meaning, which although it will always refer to others and not to an empirical object, it is stable for a period of time as long as a certain familiar and sociocultural linguistic context is maintained.

Then, and from this perspective, you can investigate and establish which values, meanings and connotation senses acquire «woman», «man» and «child» in a given context. Each story will establish the respective to each circumstance. These will, of course, be in constant transformation, in some cases faster than in others, which will make their diagnosis consist more in establishing such changes than in respect to supposed constant identities. Some results will require rectification, solution or cure due to the excessive suffering they entail. In our time and society some of these suffering effects can lead to demands for psychoanalytic treatment.

Lacan’s model, not only lacks male and female libidos like Freud’s, but even though libido is not an energy originated inside the anatomical body. Also drive is posed and written (S◊D) (parentheses of capital crossed out S rhombus capital D), a formula in which obviously nothing biological is involved and all its elements are of significant origin, including body hole. As well and especially, joy (jouissance) will be joy of the Other, jA, which prevents it from being anybody’s own and phallic joy, jᵠ (lowercase j fi), which, according to Lacan, should be read as “outside body”, which already prevents supposing the enduring in their conceptions of any biologism, male chauvinisim or sexism.

In the same sense, Freudian psychic apparatus is singular and internal to someone, while Lacan’s structure of symbolic, imaginary and real cannot receive any of both properties.

From this perspective it could be considered that what Lacan inscribes in graphs of sexuation is his diagnosis, for our time and culture, of how the signifiers “man” and “woman” have passed to letter in relation to the following terms and functions: male, female, S (A/) (capital S parenthesis of crossed out capital A), $ (capital crossed out S), object a, Ф (capital Fi), and their reciprocal joints.

It is possible that, being his proposal a passage to an algebraic writing of these functions, Lacan considers that one could interpret how the signifiers “man” and “woman” have passed to letter in every age and society depending on how those functions are related and how they are interpreted.

Lacan’s concept of «subject», whose definition is: what a signifier represents for another signifier, necessarily implies that it is not a man, not a woman, not a child, not a gay,  not a lesbian, not trans, not bisexual, not neurotic, etc .; It simply is «not», it lacks being and identity. In each particular story of a person, a family, a people, etc., the value of «subject» will participate in significant networks, chains of chains, in which it will acquire multiple meanings and meanings never guaranteed in its truth or in its endurance. It depends on the ethics of each one of us which of those meanings we shall face and reject with total indignation and which ones we will help to prosper, knowing that neither one nor the other is fully in the hands of anyone. The same thing -we must not also forget it- must be sustained regarding the signifiers: Islamic, gypsy, black, Jewish, Yankee, refugee, Israeli, etc. These signifiers do not come from any objectivity, neither that of biological body nor that of any acceptable statistics, and thus they have no identity or ontological consistency. The meaning and sense of connotation they receive will come from the articulation of the significant network of each case and the position assumed in this regard.

«Psychoanalyst» does not designate anything in itself, its meaning will depend on each case and on each context. Not every psychoanalyst is patriarchal, male chauvinist and eurocentric. Just as there is not a linguistics, or a philosophy, there is not a physics. There is not a discourse of psychoanalysis; there are multiple, some in minority -as it is perhaps the one that is maintained in these lines- but in this case they should not be ignored either. There is no discourse of psychoanalysis, affirming it has the same epistemological defect as that of binarism or any racism or xenophobia. It is the responsibility of each analyst and society of analysts the type of psychoanalysis that assumes, practices and disseminates, and in this, to begin with, it will have to decide whether it is “Freudian” or not, paternalistic or not, biologicist and individualistic or not.

It is possible that Lacan has not succeeded in totally rejecting the misogynist, male and patriarchal legacy that can be found in Freud’s work; That is our present and future task if we assume the position established in favor of the difference. If we do, the axiom should be: first the language, the signifier, the Other, the A (capital A), etc. and then, only later, the multiple ways in which they create to register the bodies and to suffer or enjoy the joys and healing positions and resources that we should assume or reject in this regard.

 

Buenos Aires, December 17, 2019.