Hysteria p.19

How many children identified as ‘attention deficit disorders’ or as ‘dyslexic’ are hysterics who eject knowledge rather than learn or who unconsciously sabotage cognitive development? The hysterical boy or girl is proclaiming an innocence of knowledge in order to assert his or her pre-sexual relation to the mother. He or she attacks cognitive development by disabling the self’s maturation, always symbolically celebrating the position of the innocent child.


Christopher Bollas – Hysteria p.19

The Matrix of the Mind p.94

The critical emotional capacities involved in the resolution of the oedipal situation are the capacity for subjectivity, historicity, object love, ambivalence, mourning, guilt, and reparation. In the positive oedipal situation for the boy, the child’s love for his mother has thrust him into a conflict of subjective desire. He has fallen in love with his mother and unconsciously wishes for genital as well as pregenital sexual relations with her; at the same time he unconsciously feels that the fulfillment of these wishes involves the breaking of sacred laws (Eliade, 1963; Loewald, 1979). Culturally, these sacred laws (which are communicated unconsciously by the parents) involve the prohibition of incest and of parricide.

In terms of the child’s individually generated system of meanings, the idea of sexual intercourse with one’s mother involves a regression to an undifferentiated state and therefore a nihilation of oneself and one’s mother as separate individuals. In addition to this nihilation of self and other, there is also a wish on the part of the boy to kill his father, mother, and siblings, insofar as they are experienced as getting in the way of the fulfillment of his desires.


Thomas H. Ogden – The Matrix of the Mind p.94

The Drama of the Gifted Child p.112

A person who suffers under his perversion bear within himself his mother’s rejection, and thus he flaunts his perversion, in order to get others to reject him, too, all the time – so re-externalizing the rejecting mother. For this reason he feels compelled to do things that his circle and society disapprove of and despise. If society were suddenly to honour his form of perversion (as may happen in certain circles), he would have to change his compulsion, but it would not free him. What he needs is not permission to use one or another fetish, but the disgusted and horrified eyes. If he comes to analysis he will look for this in his analyst, too, and will have to use all possible means to provoke him to disgust, horror and aversion. This provocation is of course a part of the transference, and from the incipient counter-transference reactions one can surmise what happened at the beginning of life.


Alice Miller – The Drama of the Gifted Child p.112

The Drama of the Gifted Child p.110

What else can one expect of a mother who was always proud of being her mother’s dear good daughter, who was dry at the age of six months, clean at a year, at three could ‘mother’ her younger siblings, and so forth. In her own baby, such a mother sees the split-off and never-experienced parts of her self, of whose break-through into consciousness she is afraid, and she sees also the uninhibited sibling baby, whom she mothered at such an early age and only now envies and perhaps hates in the person of her own child. So she trains her child with looks, despite her greater wisdom – for she can do nothing else. As the child grows up, he cannot cease living his own truth, and expressing it somewhere, perhaps in complete secrecy. In this way a person can have adapted completely to the demand of his surroundings and can have developed a false self, but in his perversion or his obsessional neurosis he still allows a portion of his true self to survive – in torment. And so the true self lives on, under the same conditions as the child once did with his disgusted mother, whom in the meantime he has introjected. In his perversion and obsessions he constantly re-enacts the same drama: a horrified mother is necessary before drive-satisfaction is possible; orgasm (for instance, with a fetish) can only be achieved in a climate of self-contempt; criticism can only be expressed in (seemingly) absurd, unaccountable (frightening), obsessional fantasies.

Alice Miller – The Drama of the Gifted Child p.110

The Drama of the Gifted Child p.96

Possibly, the child’s actual seduction did not take place the way Freud’s hysterical patients related it. Yet, the parents’ narcissistic cathexis of their child leads to a long series of sexual and nonsexual seductions, which the child will only be able to discover with difficulty, as an adult in his analysis (and often not before he himself is a parent).

A father who grew up in surroundings inimical to instinctual drives may well be inhibited in his sexual relationships in marriage. He may even remain polymorphous perverse and first dare to look properly at a female genital, play with it, and feel aroused while he is bathing his small daughter. A mother may perhaps have been shocked as a small girl by the unexpected sight of an erect penis and so developed fear of the male genital, or she may have experienced it as a symbol of violence in the primal scene without being able to confide in anyone. Such a mother may now be able to gain control over her fear in relationship to her tiny son. She may, for example, dry him after his bath in such a manner that he has an erection, which is not dangerous or threatening for her. She may massage her son’s penis, right up to puberty, in order ‘to treat his phimosis’ without having to be afraid. Protected by the unquestioning love that every child has for his mother she can carry on with her genuine, hesitating sexual exploration that had been broken off too soon.

What does it mean to the child, though, when his sexually inhibited parents make narcissistic use of him in their loneliness and need? Every child seeks loving contact and is happy to get it. At the same time, however, he feels insecure when desires are aroused that do not appear spontaneously at this stage in his development. This insecurity is further increased by the fact that his own autoerotic activity is punished by the parents’ prohibitions or scorn.


Alice Miller – The Drama of the Gifted Child p.96

The Drama of the Gifted Child p.81

A young woman wants to free herself from her patriarchal family in which her mother was completely subjected by her father. She marries a submissive man and seems to behave quite differently from her mother. Her husband allows her to bring her lovers in the house. She does not permit herself any feelings of jealousy or tenderness and wants to have relations with a number of men without any emotional ties, so that she can feel as autonomous as a man. Her need to be ‘progressive’ goes so far that she allows her partners to abuse and humiliate her as they wish, and she suppresses all her feelings of mortification and anger in the belief that this makes her modern and free from prejudice. In this way she carries over both her childhood obedience and her mother’s submissiveness into these relationships. At times she suffers from a severe depression.


Alice Miller – The Drama of the Gifted Child p.81

Leading a Worthy Life p.105

Eros, however much it promises the lovers self-completion and self-fulfillment – that it will make one out of two, forever – cannot fully or permanently do so: the coupling two cannot really become one flesh or one soul, and, willy-nilly, death will part even the best of pairs. But eros itself, rightly understood, has the remedy for these difficulties. For eros points ultimately to procreation and the as-yet unborn children of erotic union, children who, as the genuine one-flesh fruit of their love, will in part redeem the perishable dyad by stepping forward to take their place.


Leon R. Kass – Leading a Worthy Life: Finding Meaning in Modern Times p.105

Why Gender Matters p.128

The anthropologist Peter Wood… in answer to [a] Yale woman who said that plenty of women enjoy having casual sex, observed:

If the cost of that view is not immediately apparent, it is still real. The woman who treats her sexuality as something detachable from strong mutual attachment to a single partner sooner or later discovers that men regard her as expendable… The pretense that sex is just sex is never true…. There is no such thing as sex without consequences…

The sexes are complementary. The distortion of women’s sexuality plainly distorts men’s sexuality as well, though in a more deferred way. Men, instead of learning how to be responsible committed partners and eventually husbands and fathers, learn that the pleasure-seeking dimension of their sexuality can be sustained with relative ease. As a result, the men shun social maturity. The women who are veterans of the hook-up culture find that , once they are in it, their options for getting out are reduced…. All of this distorts and diminishes the lives of those who are caught up in the pursuit of sex without attachment. They eventually become those for whom genuine attachment is far more difficult…. The [true] meaning of sex is that it leads somewhere – somewhere beyond orgasms and the excitement of strangers. An older generation called that “somewhere” marriage.

The end result of multiple sexual encounters outside the context of a romantic relationship may be a lessening of the ability to form and sustain a healthy and lasting romantic relationship. And that may be true for both girls and boys, for both women and for men.


Leonard Sax – Why Gender Matters p.128

Why Gender Matters p.122

What’s the relation between love and sex? The neurochemical basis for both love and sex in females involves the hormone oxytocin, the same hormone released when a mother breast-feeds her newborn baby. “Oxytocin’s effects on both [romantic] attachment and sexual behavior are estrogen dependent and gender specific,” observes neuropsychologist Lisa Diamond, adding that there appears to be “more extensive oxytocin circuits in female than male brains.” In males, on the other hand, the hormone underlying sexual drive is not oxytocin but testosterone, the same hormone that mediates aggression in males.

Many researchers have used functional MRI to look at brain activity in women and men during sexual arousal. One consistent finding is that men show comparatively more activity in the older, more primitive areas of the brain such as the amygdala, thalamus, and hypothalamus, while women show proportionately more activity up in the cerebral cortex; that’s true even when the women report feeling more sexually aroused than the men. And these differences are apparently not affected by sexual orientation: reviewers found no significant differences in the patterns of brain activity of straight men compared with gay men but large differences between men and women, regardless of sexual orientation.

These sex differences suggest that women’s sexual experience is “happening” more in the cerebral cortex and is therefore more connected with the rest of what’s going on in their mind. The sexual experience in men is less connected with the cortex, less connected with the outside world. One recent study actually showed that in young men sexual arousal decreases functional synchronization between cortical areas of the brain. That’s a fancy way of saying that when a young man is sexually aroused, his brain literally comes unglued, and the different parts aren’t talking with one another.

The weight of the evidence strongly suggests that males and females experience sexual desire differently. As UCLA psychologist Anne Peplau observes, “women’s sexuality tends to be strongly linked to a close relationship. For women, an important goal of sex is intimacy; the best context for pleasurable sex is a committed relationship. This is less true for men.”

You can say that again. For boys and for some men, especially younger men, the sexual urge is closely tied to aggression. That’s not surprising when you remember that in males both the sexual urge and the aggressive urge are mediated by testosterone. In one carefully designed study, a surprisingly high percentage – 35 percent – of “normal” college men said that they not only fantasized about rape but would actually rape a woman if they had the chance and they were sure they wouldn’t be caught. In another study of “normal” college men, more than half said they would actually rape a woman if they were assured of not being punished. Researchers have found that more than 80 percent of popular porn videos include some form of degrading violence against women: most often the woman is slapped or gagged or spanked or has her hair yanked. But the men who watch these videos are not necessarily Neanderthals. In fact, researchers have found no association between a man’s gender-role beliefs and the likelihood that he finds rape sexually appealing. Some men who are strongly in favor of equal rights for women, who approve of women in leadership roles, and so on also say that they would rape a woman if they had the opportunity. In one recent study, men who watched pornography were actually somewhat more likely to endorse equal rights for women, compared with men who don’t look at porn. Nor is there any association positive or negative, between a man’s intelligence and the likelihood that he will be sexually aroused by depictions of rape. Highly intelligent men are no less likely to fantasize about raping a woman than are men of below-average intelligence.

Men and women experience sexuality differently. A significant number of men may feel tempted to engage in sexual assault, even if they are otherwise intelligent and believe in equal rights for women. Women are much less likely to feel a strong temptation to engage in sexual assault. These differences between women and men can be traced at least in part to biological causes, including the differences between testosterone and oxytocin. A sensible, commonsense approach to preventing sexual assault would begin by recognizing these hardwired differences.

Young men are much more likely to find pornography satisfying and fulfilling. Few young women would use the word “fulfilling” to describe the experience of masturbating over pornography. But pornography has gone mainstream. The pop star John Mayer proudly told Rolling Stone magazine that he is “the new generation of masturbator”: he would rather masturbate over pornography than have sex with actual women. I haven’t heard of any leading female celebrities who have boasted that hey would rather masturbate over pornography than have sex with real people.

The motivation for sex is different for most teenage boys than for most teenage girls. Many teenage boys want to have sex to satisfy sexual desire. It’s a gut-level, base-of-the-brain impulse not far removed from the need to have a bowel movement when you feel the urge. Many boys will tell you that the urge feels just that irresistible.

Not so for most girls. As psychologist Roy Baumeister has observed, “male desire aims at the sexual activity itself, whereas female desire aims beyond it toward other outcomes and consequences.”


Leonard Sax – Why Gender Matters p.122

The Beginning of Wisdom p.295

Sex between siblings contaminates the sibling relation with the exclusive and dyadic attempt to fuse two lives in a merger that denies the meaning of siblinghood. To take a brother as a husband is as much an act of metaphorical fratricide as it is an act of metaphorical wife killing to pass a wife off as a sister. Moreover, motives for literal fratricide are also amply provided by brother-sister sex, owing to sexual jealousy.

Deeper than these adverse psychosocial consequences lies the matter of how one stands in the world, whether as a child or as an adult. First, in incestuous unions there is no need to learn the adult restraint of sexual impulse, for with an object of gratification near at hand, instinct spills over into satisfaction: “natural inclination suffices to unite them.” More important, in brother-sister marriage, both partners cling as children to the family of origin, in a relation that hearkens back to their common emergence out of the same womb (“flesh of my flesh”), under the protection of the same parents. There is no brave stepping forth unprotected into the full meaning of adulthood, to say permanent goodbye to father and mother and to cleave to your wife, to accept their death and, what is more difficult, to accept your own mortality, the answer to which is not narcissistic sexual gratification but a sober and deliberate saying “yes” to reproduction, transmission, and perpetuation. To consciously take a wife from outside the nest is deliberately to establish a family of perpetuation, in at least tacit recognition that human maturity entails both a willingness to die and a desire for renewal and continuity, through birth and cultural transmission – a matter of enormous importance when there is a special way of life to be perpetuated.

Finally, in an incestuous union between brother and sister there is no experience of the other as truly other. There is no distance, no sexual strangeness, no need to overcome fumbling, embarrassment, shame: the inward-looking love of one’s own flesh is naked but is not ashamed. For this reason, the other is taken for granted and approached in tacit expectation of full compliance with one’s desires; the other is not easily an object of respect. Because of familiarity there is likely to be contempt. There is little possibility of awe (what the Greeks called aidos) before the sexual other: awe before the uncanniness of sexual difference, of the radical independence and otherness of the other; awe before the uncanniness of sexual complementarity, of the remarkable possibility of mediating the sexual difference; awe before the mysterious generative power of sexuality, of the wondrous capacity to transcend sexual difference altogether in the creation of a child, who is the parents’ own commingled being externalized in a separate and persisting existence. And because there is no awe before the sexual other, there is less likelihood of awe before the divine Other in whose image created He them, male and female.


Leon R. Kass – The Beginning of Wisdom p.295