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emerges after another and so the centre of gratification shifts from one zone to another. What evidence is there that anything more than this happens? What justification for saying that the earlier are 'organised' or 'subordinated' to the later?
All we are justified in saying is that the earlier forms with their gratifications pass away, and normally give place to the later forms as they become established as habits; it is only in abnormal cases that they persist and become organised with the later sexual impulses to form perversions. Further, why stop at the genital? It is true that the other zones tend to give place to the genital. But this is not the end of the process; for in the normal woman sex desires tend further to become subordinate to maternal activities, the chief object of love being the child, the 'erotogenic zone' being the breasts. The end of the biological process is not sex gratification, but the reproduction and care of the offspring; this, like all such biological functions, is associated with pleasurable feeling tone. Shall we therefore argue that the other zones, including the genital, are 'subordinated' to the breasts and the maternal impulses, and that all these forms of gratification should therefore be termed maternal and regarded as 'partial impulses' of the maternal instinct? Why stop short at the genital zone?
This leads us to the fourth argument in favour of regarding these early sensuous tendencies as sexual-that they appear in the sex perversions of later life. We have already distinguished two stages; first when the activity, say sucking, is associated with the taking of food; second, when it is indulged in as a pure gratification and without reference to its biological end.
If for any reason the earlier sensuous gratification does not naturally pass but becomes fixated, it tends to persist into later life. There are thus two competing tendencies, an early attachment say to the breasts, and a later sexual one. A compromise is effected in which both are gratified and neither is satisfied, namely in a perversion. So, to give an illustration, masochism with its sexual excitement may be clinically traced to the feeling of dependence at the breast. The perversion is thus compounded of two sensuous tendencies, an early infantile activity and later emerging sexual impulses. That these earlier sensuous activities are united with later sexual ones to form the perversions, does not constitute them sexual.
In so far as the perversions are associated with sexual feelings they are to be classed as sexual, but that does not justify us in regarding as sexual these earlier forms of gratification which are only sexual in their secondary abnormal association with sex feelings.
This leads us to the fifth argument. It is difficult, we are told, to know where to draw the line between sex feelings and other infantile gratifications. It is, if we define instinctive tendencies in terms of feeling or affective tone instead of defining in terms of direction or ends. An element of sensuous gratification lies beneath and behind them all, and in this respect they are all the same. Ultimately, whatever form of mental process we start analysing, we reach a common mental factor so primitive that there is no distinguishing one state from another in so far as they contain this common quality. This primitive element of consciousness is perhaps of the nature of feeling, whose chief qualities are pleasure and displeasure1. Feeling is characteristic of all mental experiences, being more strongly experienced in the lower more primitive experiences like organic sensations and the instincts, than in the higher more differentiated mental experiences like philosophic thought. If we then regard 'feeling' as at least one of the primitive elements in consciousness it is not surprising that when we analyse our definitely sexual activities, or instinctive activities like sucking and defaecation, we find that they reduce themselves to the same element of pleasurable feeling.
There are many forms of sensuous gratification which accompany successful conative expression, of which sexual gratification is only one, though at the same time the most important for clinical purposes. But that is no reason for calling the undifferentiated mental condition of sensuous gratification by the name of even its most important form of differentiation, namely 'sexual.'
But if we define instinctive tendencies in terms of their biological ends, there is no difficulty in distinguishing these early infantile tendencies from the sexual, whose end is reproduction.
Freud admits the existence of a 'nutritive instinct' as well as a sexual instinct, and yet he calls an activity of the nutritive instinct, namely, sucking, sexual3.
We presume that Freud calls these sucking activities the 'nutritive
1 Probably if the Amoeba has consciousness at all it merely feels-has a generalised feeling of pleasure or discomfort, the discomfort giving rise to its conscious conative tendencies, and the pleasure resulting from the successful expression of them. Out of this primitive form of consciousness there emerge two lines of differentiation; along one line the feeling becomes localised as sensations, and then becomes further differentiated into the higher cognitive processes; along the other line, the feeling initiates conative tendencies like the impulses. Thought is but the shape that feelings take; impulses and will their movement.
2 Introd. Lectures, p. 263: "In every way analogous to hunger, libido is the force by means of which the instinct, in this case the sexual instinct, as, with hunger, the nutritive instinct, achieves expression."
Ibid. p. 275: "The sexual activity of sucking."
instinct' because their end is nutrition: that is to say, he defines the instinct in terms of its end. But when we come to the sexual instinct he does not define it in terms of its end, namely, reproduction,-indeed, he definitely argues against this definition,-but in terms of its feeling tone, describing activities as sexual because of their gratification. Instincts are thus sometimes defined according to their biological ends, and at others according to their feeling tone. Either basis of classification may be justifiable, but to use both at once, is not only unjustifiable in principle, but leads to inconsistencies like that of describing sucking at one time as nutritive, another time as sexual, this variation depending on whether we define this instinctive activity in terms of its end or of its feeling tone.
If we are going to define the nutritive instinct in terms of its end, we must also define the sexual instinct in terms of its end, which is reproduction. There is no real justification, then, for calling these infantile gratifications sexual, extending the use of the term sexual till it becomes synonymous with sensuous gratification. Indeed, the psychoanalysts have perverted the use of the term sexual.
But, it may be asked, considering the clinical convenience for this extended use of the term sexual, what objections are there to the use of the term to cover the tendencies commonly grouped as infantile sexuality?
(i) It does violence to the ordinary biological use of the term which lays stress, of course, on the element of reproduction. I do not hold that psychology should be the handmaid of biology but let them at least not be antagonists.
(ii) It must lead eventually to an identification of the sexual with the egotistic impulses, since egotism and self-preservation are nothing else but self-love. Indeed, 'shell-shock' conditions have already been interpreted by psychoanalysts as sexual. Just as this identification leads to pan-sexualism so others would carry the identification in the direction of the ego and explain sex in terms of egotistic impulses.
(iii) Finally it gives rise to confusion in the classification of the instincts, classifying them at one time according to their ends and at another according to their common sensuous quality, and describing sucking, for instance, sometimes as sexual, sometimes as nutritive.
These arguments against the extended use of the word sexual are so strong that they far outweigh the clinical advantage.
When we ask then why Freud does not withdraw such use of the term we are offered this argument: "One can never tell where that road
may lead one; one gives way first in words, and then little by little in substance too 1."
Is this argument as weak as it sounds, or does it mean that Freud suspects that with its abandonment his whole conception of these infantile tendencies will have to be revised?
Misunderstanding could have been avoided if we had retained the distinction which ordinary language offers us, between the sensuous and the sexual the sensuous having reference to all forms of physical pleasure or gratification whether or not the pleasure is experienced in the attainment of some biological end, or purely for its own gratification: and the term sexual being retained for these activities whose natural end is reproduction2.
Having defined 'sex' in this way, we may add a note to distinguish it not only from the term sensuous, but also from the terms 'libido,' 'love' and 'erotic.' Freud uses these terms-erotic, libido, sex, love— as descriptive of the same mental experience3. That these words, derived as they are from different languages, originally referred to the same general experience, we shall not dispute. But the value of retaining such different terms in our language is that they may be used to distinguish in a concise way mental processes which though primitively related have, in the course of mental evolution, become differentiated1.
The term sex generally signifies the whole instinct in its cognitive, affective, but perhaps more especially in its 'conative' aspects, towards reproduction.
When we speak of the 'erotic' we think of the sexual instinct in its sensuous and affective side. In thinking of 'erotic tendencies,' we refer not to their end but to their feeling tone, their sensuous gratification. Since the emphasis in the term erotic is upon the pleasurable element it is with some justification that we apply the term erotic to the sensuous gratification found in other than sex activities, like that of sucking and defaecation, in the terms 'oral erotic,' 'anal erotic.' On the
1 Group Psychology, p. 39.
2 It seems to me that the facts could have been put just as clearly and with less misunderstanding by referring the cause of the psychoneuroses to sensuous gratification of childhood, and demonstrating to us the essential link of connection between these early forms of gratification with the later gratifications of sexual life, without doing violence to the ordinary and biological use of the term sex.
Group Psychology, pp. 38-40.
• Thus the terms 'populace' and 'population' both refer generally to the same thing, yet they are used of quite different aspects of this thing.
other hand, the term 'libidinous' carries with it the sense of craving, striving or seeking for gratification. Like hunger, it emphasises the conative rather than the sensuous aspect. I should suggest that it be used for the craving for gratification of all kinds, of whatever instinct, including the infantile non-sexual gratification of sucking. This use of the term differs in substance very little, if at all, from the psychoanalytic: it differs however in definition for it is a striving after sensuous gratification not the sexual only. It has also, as we know, been used by Jung in a still wider sense as practically equivalent to psychic energy, but still retaining its conative significance.
The word love must be distinguished from sex, in that it is a sentiment1 consisting of a group of emotional tendencies of which the sexual is only a part. Love is an activity of the whole personality with varying emphasis on different emotional tendencies, not merely of one instinct. In this sentiment of love the sex impulse is sometimes dominant, as in the 'lover'; but at other times other emotions are dominant, such as the aggressive emotions in patriotism, and the maternal emotions in the 'love' of a mother for the child. So we may have sex feelings towards one we do not love in the full sense2. We speak of auto-erotic when we wish to emphasise the sensuous gratification a child has in its own body and its physical sensations; but narcissism is self-love, being an activity of the whole personality towards itself.
To summarise these differences; sex differs from erotic in that it emphasises the whole conative as well as the sensuous element; it differs from libido in that while the latter may refer to all pleasurable cravings, sex refers to those only whose natural end is reproduction; it differs from love in that it is the activity of only one instinct (of several components it is true), whereas love is an activity of the whole personality.
1 McDougall says: "Sex love is a complex sentiment, and in its constitution the protective impulse and tender emotion of the parental instinct are normally combined with the emotional conative disposition of the sex instinct, restraining, softening, and ennobling the purely egoistic and somewhat brutal tendency of lust." (Social Psychology, 14th ed. p. 394.)
2 In one passage Freud seems to approximate to this view. He says: "We speak of 'love' when we lay the accent upon the mental side of the sexual impulses and disregard, or wish to forget for a moment, the demands of the fundamental physical or 'sensual' side of the impulse." (Introd. Lectures, p. 277.)