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Suppose that in the first year of child-life the libidinal sensations have not been differentiated: it is in a situation of this kind that the genetic criterion seems to be applicable. The same two lines of argument that we followed in the preceding section recur. First we may argue that the genitals are excited when the infant is sucking his mother's breast, and when his curiosity is aroused, and that this justifies us in postulating the beginnings of a sexual relation to her, however undeveloped the libidinal sensations may then be. This postulate is only justified at most if we have first shown that the excitement of the genitals is not an occasional effect observable in some infants, but is capable of being verified in all. If it is only an occasional effect it does not belong to infant-life as a whole, and no general inference can be based on it.
In the second place, we may argue that whether or not the genitals are as a general rule excited in the case supposed, the oral region being itself erotogenic justifies a similar postulate. For the organ being active, if the libidinal sensations are not yet present they will arise in due course. This argument falls to the ground like the first; for if the erotogenic zones have not been shown to possess libidinal sensations in their mature state, independently of the excitement of the genitals, the activity of the zones in their immature state cannot be rightly described as sexual. The application of the genetic criterion has not therefore modified the conclusion.
The tentative conclusions reached are that the genitals alone are essentially sexual organs, in the sense that it is part of their function to arouse libidinal sensations. These sensations are as proper to them as other sensations are to the mouth, breasts and anus. A great variety of other things are occasionally sexual, in the sense of becoming stimuli of libidinal sensations in certain situations and with certain persons. In the case we have taken, the mouth when active under ordinary conditions, as in the appropriation of food, arouses the sensations characteristic of its own region, and these are not libidinal; but under peculiar conditions of relatively infrequent occurrence, it arouses libidinal sensations through exciting the genitals. So is it with our emotions and sentiments. Love has sometimes a sexual influence, sometimes a sexual constituent, neither universally. Perversions indeed are always sexual, because here we class apart the cases where an erotogenic zone or symbol is habitually used to excite sexual pleasure.
THE CONCEPTION OF SEXUALITY (IV)
DR GLOVER'S REPLY.
MR SHAND has reviewed certain of the considerations advanced in my first paper with admirable fairness; but his reply seems to be based on the assumption that these constitute the main justification of the extended connotation of Sexuality found in Freud's Libido Theory: whereas my intention was to cite a number of significant facts which are rendered intelligible by that theory and which might impress those who, like Mr Shand, have not encountered at first hand the psycho-analytical evidence upon which it rests.
Although some acute observer might have detected a genetic connection between infantile tendencies, which we regard as the earliest manifestation of the sexual group of instincts and later tendencies, present in a modified form in the adult sexual situation and in an unchanged form in the sexual perversions, it is certain that in the absence of the mass of evidence invariably unearthed during a psychoanalytical investigation, this would have remained a mere speculation vulnerable to the arguments Mr Shand has adduced, as when he says that the ‘onus probandi’ rests on those who would extend the connotation of sexual' in unexpected and a priori unlikely directions.
To this demand I would reply that proof of the most convincing sort can be obtained, but that unlike the evidential data of other scientific hypotheses the evidential data of Psycho-Analysis are, for obvious reasons, accessible only to a few workers, and in the absence of first-hand investigation, even were the enormous mass of material necessary to one full case-history published in extenso, it is improbable that any real step would have been taken in the direction of securing wider acceptance of conclusions based on daily first-hand investigations of many such histories.
I did not stress this fundamental point in my first paper, for it seemed to me that, from the point of view of a general discussion, to do so would be useless, would land the disputants in an impasse. I even went further and omitted to deal with one extension of the term sexual of the utmost practical importance, namely, to include under that heading a
"A contribution to a discussion at a meeting of the Medical Section of the British Psychological Society on March 25, 1925.
host of neurotic and psychotic symptoms, e.g. as when a fear of something in actuality signifies a sexual desire.
Mr Shand's main contention is that until it is proved that the tendencies in dispute are consciously experienced by all normal persons, we are not justified in taking a leap from the particular to the general and regarding them as attributes of our common human nature. In short he seems to consider that our dispute could be settled by a sufficiently extensive questionnaire.
Now suppose that such a questionnaire were undertaken, Mr Shand would be placed in an awkward quandary by the number of persons who would assert (truthfully so far as consciousness is concerned) that they have never experienced any sexual desire whatsoever and who would assert with every show of justification that, in the opinion of themselves and their acquaintances, they were normal individuals, regarding the absence of sexual desire as a cultural achievement, which in one sense it is. On the other hand the large number of such instances (e.g. a high percentage of women educated according to a certain cultural pattern) would favour our view, for it is obvious that cultural influences, which can bring about the apparent disappearance of the sexual instinct in toto, a fortiori may well have brought about the apparent disappearance of such of its components as are strongly repugnant to the cultural Ego, even when this is not highly developed.
Once concede the possibility that Man's real instinctual make-up may be masked by a cultural superstructure, to the point that he ceases to be aware of certain of its components, or of the hidden nature of their cultural displacements and Mr Shand's objection is invalidated.
Of course our real answer would be that individuals who would certainly have answered the questionnaire with a complete denial of all sexuality, would in the course of psycho-analysis come to a very different conclusion; but since such an answer tends to be monotonous and to remain unconvincing I prefer to dwell on the bearing of this factor of cultural modification of primary instinct-impulses on our present topic, and on the reason why the task of penetrating this superstructure and discovering the existence of certain primary impulses behind its distortions had to wait till a special set of circumstances led to the elaboration of a method adequate to its accomplishment.
It was inevitable that sooner or later human behaviour should be studied from the same standpoint that the habits of a beaver are scrutinised, rejoicing in the fact that unlike the beaver man could presumably also give an account of his behaviour from the inside. In the light of our present knowledge this combined method is as trustworthy, where certain primary impulses are concerned, as an inquiry into the aggressive impulses of members of these animal happy families which delighted our childhood, carried out by someone who had never observed these creatures in their natural environments.
We now know that certain primary instinct-impulses undergo extensive and complex modifications before the so-called normality of cultural man is achieved. Moreover these modifications occur mainly during an early period of development largely inaccessible to unaided recollection. And most important of all the realization of the past and present existence of the impulses in question, is opposed by the continuous operation of powerful resistances; so that for instance an impulse, the gratification of which was once pleasurably toned, ceases to be so and cannot threaten to manifest itself without exciting some variety of unpleasurably toned repudiation. It will be said that in laying down these considerations I am begging the question, so that I must restrict myself to the point that if these considerations are at all sound (and surely the hypothesis of profound cultural modification of instinct in man is a priori a highly probable one) then it follows:
(1) That Dr Hadfield's simple biological criterion of subserving reproduction would be a very misleading instrument for the investigation of the instinctual components of Man's sexual life.
(2) That Mr Shand's use of the descriptive criterion in what I might call the statistical or questionnaire form (e.g. Does every normal person experience this?) would be equally inadequate to elicit the facts.
Further if this hypothesis be sound, we see further, why its secure establishment and detailed working out had to await that special set of circumstances which led to the elaboration of the psycho-analytical technique, for if it be true that powerful obstacles stand in the way of a thorough-going scrutiny of Man's instinctual life, these could be overcome only with the help of powerful motives, operating alike in investigator and in the subject. These motives were provided by the desire to alleviate intense suffering on the one hand and the desire to be rid of it on the other. Certain unfortunate individuals, in whom the work of instinct-modification had but imperfectly succeeded and who in consequence suffered from certain painful and disabling disabilities, expressing an unsatisfactory compromise between cultural development and the pressure of imperfectly mastered instinct-impulses, came under the notice of a physician with an unusual flair for psychological investigation, and the motives mentioned above provided the necessary incentive to the elaboration and carrying out against strong resistances, of the prolonged and painstaking enquiry into hidden motives, which ended in the isolation and genetic study of hitherto unexpected primary impulses continuing to operate undetected in human behaviour.
Since then, similar investigations have been carried out by workers of diverse races and temperaments, upon subjects normal and abnormal, exhibiting an equal diversity and, provided that certain technical precautions are taken and certain technical rules are observed, the results are found to tally in essentials without exception.
But although this set of circumstances had this fortunate consequence, it has exposed the findings arrived at to certain reiterated criticisms. These findings are said to be valid only in a special field of enquiry labelled cinical, the confusion here being due to the traditional medical view of the disturbances investigated, which, in ignorance of the fact that they were the expression of mal-adaptations of instinctimpulses to cultural requirements, classed them as diseases in the ordinary sense. Dr Hadfield has admitted that these findings have a large measure of validity in Clinical Psychology, but, under the influence of this point of view, has questioned their utility for General Psychology. This point has already been dealt with succinctly by Dr Ernest Jones in his paper on Abnormal Psychology and Social Psychology, in which he explains his reasons for holding the exactly contrary view, that the findings of Clinical Psychology are necessarily more relevant to the needs of Social Psychology than those of any other branch of psychological enquiry. Mr Shand too writes constantly in his present contribution, under the influence of this tendency to rule out of court as unworthy of consideration, data observed by physicians in the course of their investigations into the deeper sources of what are essentially social maladaptations and not diseases in the ordinary sense. Had it so befallen that the first insight into the nature of these disorders had been achieved by a general psychologist and their technical treatment become the monopoly of pedagogic psychologists, then I am sure that Mr Shand with his immense range of erudition would have been a worthier exponent of the Libido theory than I can hope to be.
Before leaving this question of the ‘onus probandi, it must be granted that even the high degree of conviction regarding its general validity gained by those whose daily first-hand investigations seem at all points to confirm the Libido theory, falls short of absolute proof in
1 In the Morton Prince commemorative volume, Problems of Personality, published by Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner and Co. Ltd., pp. 15–25.