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gression) of stages of libido organization, and attempts a reductio ad absurdum by asking "Why stop at the genital?" and pointing out that "this is not the end of the process because in the 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. And he asks: "Shall we therefore argue that the other zones including the genital are subordinated to the breasts and the maternal impulses?"
The confusion here arises from a differing use of the word subordinated. When Freud asserts that a component impulse, or the erotogenicity of a non-genital zone, becomes subordinated to genital primacy he means that the libidinal gratification in genital activity reaches a degree of intensification absorbing and focussing other libidinal tendencies and other zonal excitations. Now from this point of view it is not true to say that the nipple, either before or after pregnancy, is normally capable of competing with the genital in respect of libidinal investment, although it may do so when genital primacy has been imperfectly achieved, e.g. cases of enhanced breast erotism in anaesthetic women.
Dr Hadfield, on the other hand, is using the word 'subordinated' in a chronological and teleological sense, stimulation of the breasts by suckling coming subsequently to coitus and being associated with the biologically important maternal care of offspring. (I am leaving out of account the fact that in Freud's view the attainment of genital primacy in his sense has much wider psychological implications than normal genital functioning.)
As an alternative theory of development, Dr Hadfield suggests that Nature, as a measure of encouragement to the carrying out of necessary biological functions, sucking, erection, urinating, reproduction, places a pleasure premium on their performance "leading to habit formation after which 'purpose' has been served the pleasurable element becomes less prominent" and so it passes to give a way to the next phase. “All that has happened is that one physiological activity emerges after another and so the centre of gratification shifts from one zone to another."
An adequate comparison of this older view with that of Freud would involve consideration of his Repression theory, according to which certain early tendencies to gratification rejected by the developing Ego do not pass but retain dynamic investment in the Unconscious; but I have purposely refrained from introducing into the present discussion considerations which cannot be appreciated without special knowledge and experience of the Psycho-Analytical method.
Considerations justifying the Freudian conception of sexuality fall
first of all under two headings: (1) clinical observations, (2) the study of normal psycho-sexual development; and, finally, conclusions drawn from these two sources can be shown not to conflict with a biologicalteleological criterion of somewhat wider significance than that of merely subserving the reproductive process. In his somewhat brief mention of clinical evidence Dr Hadfield omits to deal with two highly significant facts.
I. Regression. While he admits that adult sexual tendencies can be traced back to infantile tendencies of the sort he terms 'sensuous,' he does not refer to the interesting fact that adult sexual tendencies can again be replaced by earlier infantile ones.
This phenomenon is most commonly manifested in a disguised form in psycho-neurotic symptoms and often in quite undisguised form in the psychoses, but to meet the objection that neurotic forms of regression require a special technique for their demonstration, it is only necessary to point out that undisguised sexual regression may appear in persons who have, to all appearances, led a normal sexual life before a failure of genital functioning at the climacteric and then regress sexually to some infantile tendency, e.g. exhibitionism.
II. Selective action of Ego-resistance. Gratification of the sort Freud terms libidinal seems to encounter from the earliest years that resistance on the part of the Ego which in its most complete form constitutes the process of repression, but even before repression is complete libidinally invested impulses and gratifications evoke distinctive reactions on the part of the Ego. This continuity of conflict betwixt the Ego and its libidinal trends surely adds an impressive argument to that of the genetic continuity of the trends themselves.
The continuity of normal psycho-sexual development has been established from three sources: (1) observation of children, (2) child analysis, (3) analysis of 'normal adults,' and in recent years evidence from the first two sources has steadily accumulated. However, as analytical data are convincing only to those with experience of the method, I propose merely to scrutinize the adult sexual situation from the alternative standpoints (1) that it results from the emergence de novo of a sexual instinct at puberty as Dr Hadfield's thesis implies, (2) that it has behind it a genetic background reaching back to childhood.
Dr Hadfield seems to regard the adult sexual situation as limited to the act of coitus followed by reproduction, extending the concept sexual only to tendencies which by virtue of arousing the genital impulse may be called sexual. In addition to previously-mentioned grounds for re
garding this view as unpsychological, I have to insist on a notable psychological omission, i.e. all reference to a decisive factor in the human being, the process of 'falling in love,' with its characteristics of 'overestimation,' idealization and desire for exclusive possession, jealousy, hatred of rivals, etc.
Now can it be seriously maintained that these tendencies so prominent in and characteristic of the mating impulse in man, originate de novo at sexual maturity? On the contrary, are these tendencies not manifested from the earliest childhood and continued throughout life?1
Again, except in the case of very inhibited or very brutalized persons, the adult sexual situation is not restricted to the intromission of the male genital into the female and consequent orgasm. It includes a normal stage of fore-pleasure, in which the infantile sexual components of viewing, exhibitionism, sadism, masochism, etc., receive a measure of gratification and regularly at least one extra-genital zone, the mouth, is stimulated prior to coitus. Now observation of children has recorded a wealth of evidence outside of analytical investigation that viewing, exhibitionistic, sadistic, masochistic and other impulses are manifested towards a similarly over-estimated love-object in infancy. What is lacking is genital primacy and capacity for fecundation, and the dilemma I propose is this: We must either limit our concept of sexuality to adult genital impulses capable of resulting in fecundation, or we must accept a genetic view of 'sexual development.' At this point I should like to criticize Dr Hadfield's too rigid treatment of the sexual perversions. Clinical experience has shown that save in the decisive respect of supplanting genital primacy, perverse gratifications are in many cases distinguished from the gratifications of fore-pleasure only by their intensity, and supersession of genital functioning. In fact it is rare to find in the most normal sexual life that one or other component-impulse is not relatively intense.
Finally, the results of empirical analytical enquiry can be shown to be in harmony with a broad biological-teleological standpoint, to arrive at which we must cease to confuse the physical act of reproduction with the 'end' of race-preservation. The former is merely a dramatic moment' in a larger movement of forces subserving the latter. Save in the case of the lowliest organisms the fact is so obvious that it need not be stressed.
A brief consideration of infantile sexuality soon reveals the fact that it is teleologically of the utmost importance from this larger standpoint.
1 The observed effects of witnessing parental intercourse in the case of an infant of less than one year old were illuminating in this respect.
The specific feeling-quality of libidinal attachments, distinct from and if necessary in conflict with Ego needs, seals a bond between child and parent, parent and child, child and child, etc., which not only consolidates that family grouping so necessary to human race-preservation but ensures its perpetuation when the child himself reaches sexual maturity. The mechanisms whereby these results are achieved constitute an important chapter of psycho-analytical research.
Further, I fail to see why, if certain secondary sexual characteristics in animals and certain activities appearing during the mating season do not appear to have any utilitarian bearing on the act of copulation, but rather suggest manifestations of an over-plus of sexual metabolism, the same view should not be admitted as a possibility in considering the end-results of the sexual instinct in man.
To conclude, there remains to be considered from the genetic standpoint infantile components such as anal-erotism which, save as perversions, are not directly represented in the adult sexual situation. Here too a developmental standpoint is more fruitful than a strictly utilitarian criterion. From a strictly utilitarian point of view, it is not necessary that an embryo should recapitulate certain earlier phases of phylogenetic development. Gill-clefts are not only anachronistic, but useless from the utilitarian standpoint.
Similarly the ontogenetic development of the sexual instinct includes the traversing of phases like anal-erotism which, although appropriate to a cloacal phase of phylogenetic development long superseded, has lost all utilitarian relevance in the intellectually apprehended scheme of reproductive ends. Understandably its supersession has been only partial owing to an anatomical approximation and associated innervation but this faulty economy of nature has in a sense been remedied by the development of cultural barriers of disgust, not infrequently developed to such a pitch that they may defeat their own ends and involve the closely associated genital function itself in a common repudiation. In many quadrupeds anal interests, particularly excretory smells, show the most obvious affinity with sexual interests, being quite possibly in some sense auxiliary interests. However this may be, the results of empirical analytical investigation do not necessarily conflict with a biological standpoint and are sufficiently impressive in themselves to demand the most careful consideration even from those to whom they are a priori incredible and emotionally unpalatable.
THE CONCEPTION OF SEXUALITY (III)1
BY ALEXANDER F. SHAND.
We must agree with Dr Glover that 'rigid definitions' should be avoided in psychology; and, we may add, rigid theories also. But provisional definitions and working hypotheses we must have. Here we require a definition in the sense of a clear and precise conception of what we mean by 'sex' and 'sexual,' and what the problem of this symposium is in relation to them. A problem not clearly defined cannot lead to a satisfactory solution of it. What then is our problem? According to Dr Glover it is "A discussion of the conception of sexuality and what phenomena it may legitimately and usefully include" (p. 175). "The real dispute," he says, "is over the facts and not over niceties of definition" (p. 175). But the problem remains partly verbal: if it is not, what is the ordinary meaning of 'sexual,' then it is, what meaning we ought to give to the term after taking into account the facts of early if immature development of sexuality in children, sex-perversions, and the way in which an 'erotogenic zone' may come to 'replace the genitals.'
I think it is misleading to attempt to define the sexual, as Dr Hadfield has done, by employing the term 'natural' instead of the usual term 'biological' to describe the primitive end or goal of the sexual. The ambiguities of the term 'natural' have often been pointed out; and further I agree with Dr Glover that this end cannot be limited to 'reproduction,' but is what it is generally taken to be, in the biological sense, "the preservation of the species." In human development however we cannot limit the sexual to the biological end; other and purely psychological ends arise that sometimes defeat this end, and these are shown in sexual perversions. But ends of some sort we must have, and the impulse of the sexual cannot be an exception to this rule.
Dr Glover employs three criteria of the sexual: (1) the teleological, (2) the descriptive, (3) the genetic (p. 176). What does he mean by the 'descriptive'? He seems to mean that this criterion justifies us in regarding a “given tendency as sexual if it reveals a psychological identity with tendencies called 'sexual' by common consent" (p. 176). Such a criterion meets us wherever we are dealing with the primary
1 A contribution to a discussion at a meeting of the Medical Section of the British Psychological Society on March 25th, 1925.