Deviation In Reference To The Sexual Aim - Three Contributions To The Theory Of Sex

Deviation In Reference To The Sexual Aim - Three Contributions To The Theory Of Sex

DEVIATION IN REFERENCE TO THE SEXUAL AIM


The union of the genitals in the characteristic act of copulation is taken as the normal sexual aim. It serves to loosen the sexual tension and temporarily to quench the sexual desire (gratification analogous to satisfaction of hunger). Yet even in the most normal sexual process those additions are distinguishable, the development of which leads to the aberrations described as perversions. Thus certain intermediary relations to the sexual object connected with copulation, such as touching and looking, are recognized as preliminary to the sexual aim.

These activities are on the one hand themselves connected with pleasure and on the other hand they enhance the excitement which persists until the definite sexual aim is reached. One definite kind of contiguity, consisting of mutual approximation of the mucous membranes of the lips in the form of a kiss, has received among the most civilized nations a sexual value, though the parts of the body concerned do not belong to the sexual apparatus but form the entrance to the digestive tract.

This therefore supplies the factors which allow us to bring the perversions into relation with the normal sexual life, and which are available also for their classification. The perversions are either (a) anatomical transgressions of the bodily regions destined for sexual union, or (b) a lingering at the intermediary relations to the sexual object which should normally be rapidly passed on the way to the definite sexual aim.


(a) Anatomical Transgression


Overestimation of the Sexual Object.—The psychic estimation in which the sexual object as a goal of the sexual impulse shares is only in the rarest cases limited to the genitals; generally it embraces the whole body and tends to include all sensations emanating from the sexual object. The same overestimation spreads over the psychic sphere and manifests itself as a logical blinding (diminished judgment) in the face of the psychic attainments and perfections of the sexual object, as well as a blind obedience to the judgments issuing from the latter. The full faith of love thus becomes an important, if not the primordial source of authority.

It is this sexual overvaluation, which so ill agrees with the restriction of the sexual aim to the union of the genitals only, that assists other parts of the body to participate as sexual aims. In the development of this most manifold anatomical overestimation there is an unmistakable desire towards variation, a thing denominated by Hoche as "excitement-hunger" (Reiz-hunger).


Sexual Utilization of the Mucous Membrane of the Lips and Mouth.—The significance of the factor of sexual overestimation can be best studied in the man, in whom alone the sexual life is accessible to investigation, whereas in the woman it is veiled in impenetrable darkness, partly in consequence of cultural stunting and partly on account of the conventional reticence and dishonesty of women.

The employment of the mouth as a sexual organ is considered as a perversion if the lips (tongue) of the one are brought into contact with the genitals of the other, but not when the mucous membrane of the lips of both touch each other. In the latter exception we find the connection with the normal. He who abhors the former as perversions, though these since antiquity have been common practices among mankind, yields to a distinct feeling of loathing which protects him from adopting such sexual aims.

The limit of such loathing is frequently purely conventional; he who kisses fervently the lips of a pretty girl will perhaps be able to use her tooth brush only with a sense of loathing, though there is no reason to assume that his own oral cavity for which he entertains no loathing is cleaner than that of the girl. Our attention is here called to the factor of loathing which stands in the way of the libidinous overestimation of the sexual aim, but which may in turn be vanquished by the libido.

In the loathing we may observe one of the forces which have brought about the restrictions of the sexual aim. As a rule these forces halt at the genitals; there is, however, no doubt that even the genitals of the other sex themselves may be an object of loathing. Such behavior is characteristic of all hysterics, especially women. The force of the sexual impulse prefers to occupy itself with the overcoming of this loathing (see below).


Sexual Utilization of the Anal Opening.—It is even more obvious than in the former case that it is the loathing which stamps as a perversion the use of the anus as a sexual aim. But it should not be interpreted as espousing a cause when I observe that the basis of this loathing—namely, that this part of the body serves for the excretion and comes in contact with the loathsome excrement—is not more plausible than the basis which hysterical girls have for the disgust which they entertain for the male genital because it serves for urination.

The sexual rôle of the mucous membrane of the anus is by no means limited to intercourse between men; its preference has nothing characteristic of the inverted feeling. On the contrary, it seems that the pedicatio of the man owes its rôle to the analogy with the act in the woman, whereas among inverts it is mutual masturbation which is the most common sexual aim.


The Significance of Other Parts of the Body.—Sexual infringement on the other parts of the body, in all its variations, offers nothing new; it adds nothing to our knowledge of the sexual impulse which herein only announces its intention to dominate the sexual object in every way. Besides the sexual overvaluation, a second and generally unknown factor may be mentioned among the anatomical transgressions. Certain parts of the body, like the mucous membrane of the mouth and anus, which repeatedly appear in such practices, lay claim as it were to be considered and treated as genitals. We shall hear how this claim is justified by the development of the sexual impulse, and how it is fulfilled in the symptomatology of certain morbid conditions.


Unfit Substitutes for the Sexual Object. Fetichism.—We are especially impressed by those cases in which for the normal sexual object another is substituted which is related to it but which is totally unfit for the normal sexual aim. According to the scheme of the introduction we should have done better to mention this most interesting group of aberrations of the sexual impulse among the deviations in reference to the sexual object, but we have deferred mention of these until we became acquainted with the factor of sexual overestimation, upon which these manifestations, connected with the relinquishing of the sexual aim, depend.


The substitute for the sexual object is generally a part of the body but little adapted for sexual purposes, such as the foot, or hair, or an inanimate object which is in demonstrable relation with the sexual person, and preferably with the sexuality of the same (fragments of clothing, white underwear). This substitution is not unjustly compared with the fetich in which the savage sees the embodiment of his god.

The transition to the cases of fetichism, with a renunciation of a normal or of a perverted sexual aim, is formed by cases in which a fetichistic determination is demanded in the sexual object if the sexual aim is to be attained (definite color of hair, clothing, even physical blemishes). No other variation of the sexual impulse verging on the pathological claims our interest as much as this one, owing to the peculiarity occasioned by its manifestations.

A certain diminution in the striving for the normal sexual aim may be presupposed in all these cases (executive weakness of the sexual apparatus). The connection with the normal is occasioned by the psychologically necessary overestimation of the sexual object, which inevitably encroaches upon everything associatively related to it (sexual object). A certain degree of such fetichism therefore regularly belong to the normal, especially during those stages of wooing when the normal sexual aim seems inaccessible or its realization deferred.

"Get me a handkerchief from her bosom—a garter of my love."

—FAUST.

The case becomes pathological only when the striving for the fetich fixes itself beyond such determinations and takes the place of the normal sexual aim; or again, when the fetich disengages itself from the person concerned and itself becomes a sexual object. These are the general determinations for the transition of mere variations of the sexual impulse into pathological aberrations.

The persistent influence of a sexual impress mostly received in early childhood often shows itself in the selection of a fetich, as Binet first asserted, and as was later proven by many illustrations,—a thing which may be placed parallel to the proverbial attachment to a first love in the normal ("On revient toujours à ses premiers amours"). Such a connection is especially seen in cases with only fetichistic determinations of the sexual object. The significance of early sexual impressions will be met again in other places.

In other cases it was mostly a symbolic thought association, unconscious to the person concerned, which led to the replacing of the object by means of a fetich. The paths of these connections can not always be definitely demonstrated. The foot is a very primitive sexual symbol already found in myths. Fur is used as a fetich probably on account of its association with the hairiness of the mons veneris. Such symbolism seems often to depend on sexual experiences in childhood.


(b) Fixation of Precursory Sexual Aims

The Appearance of New Intentions.—All the outer and inner determinations which impede or hold at a distance the attainment of the normal sexual aim, such as impotence, costliness of the sexual object, and dangers of the sexual act, will conceivably strengthen the inclination to linger at the preparatory acts and to form them into new sexual aims which may take the place of the normal. On closer investigation it is always seen that the ostensibly most peculiar of these new intentions have already been indicated in the normal sexual act.

Touching and Looking.—At least a certain amount of touching is indispensable for a person in order to attain the normal sexual aim. It is also generally known that the touching of the skin of the sexual object causes much pleasure and produces a supply of new excitement. Hence, the lingering at the touching can hardly be considered a perversion if the sexual act is proceeded with.

The same holds true in the end with looking which is analogous to touching. The manner in which the libidinous excitement is frequently awakened is by the optical impression, and selection takes account of this circumstance—if this teleological mode of thinking be permitted—by making the sexual object a thing of beauty. The covering of the body, which keeps abreast with civilization, serves to arouse sexual inquisitiveness, which always strives to restore for itself the sexual object by uncovering the hidden parts.

This can be turned into the artistic ("sublimation") if the interest is turned from the genitals to the form of the body. The tendency to linger at this intermediary sexual aim of the sexually accentuated looking is found to a certain degree in most normals; indeed it gives them the possibility of directing a certain amount of their libido to a higher artistic aim. On the other hand, the fondness for looking becomes a perversion (a) when it limits itself entirely to the genitals; (b) when it becomes connected with the overcoming of loathing (voyeurs and onlookers at the functions of excretion); and (c) when instead of preparing for the normal sexual aim it suppresses it. The latter, if I may draw conclusions from a single analysis, is in a most pronounced way true of exhibitionists, who expose their genitals so as in turn to bring to view the genitals of others.


In the perversion which consists in striving to look and be looked at we are confronted with a very remarkable character which will occupy us even more intensively in the following aberration. The sexual aim is here present in twofold formation, in an active and a passive form.

The force which is opposed to the peeping mania and through which it is eventually abolished is shame (like the former loathing).


Sadism and Masochism.—The desire to cause pain to the sexual object and its opposite, the most frequent and most significant of all perversions, was designated in its two forms by v. Krafft-Ebing as sadism or the active form, and masochism or the passive form. Other authors prefer the narrower term algolagnia which emphasizes the pleasure in pain and cruelty, whereas the terms selected by v. Krafft-Ebing place the pleasure secured in all kinds of humility and submission in the foreground.

The roots of active algolagnia, sadism, can be readily demonstrable in the normal. The sexuality of most men shows a taint of aggression, it is a propensity to subdue, the biological significance of which lies in the necessity of overcoming the resistance of the sexual object by actions other than mere courting. Sadism would then correspond to an aggressive component of the sexual impulse which has become independent and exaggerated and has been brought to the foreground by displacement.

The conception of sadism fluctuates in the usage of language from a mere active or impetuous attitude towards the sexual object to the exclusive attachment of the gratification to the subjection and maltreatment of the object. Strictly speaking only the last extreme case has a claim to the name of perversion.

Similarly, the designation of masochism comprises all passive attitude to the sexual life and to the sexual object; in its most extreme form the gratification is connected with suffering of physical or mental pain at the hands of the sexual object. Masochism as a perversion seems to be still more remote from the normal sexual life by forming a contrast to it; it may be doubted whether it ever appears as a primary form or whether it does not more regularly originate through transformation from sadism. It can often be recognized that the masochism is nothing but a continuation of the sadism turning against one's own person in which the latter at first takes the place of the sexual object. Analysis of extreme cases of masochistic perversions show that there is a coöperation of a large series of factors which exaggerate and fix the original passive sexual attitude (castration complex, conscience).

The pain which is here overcome ranks with the loathing and shame which were the resistances opposed to the libido.

Sadism and masochism occupy a special place among the perversions, for the contrast of activity and passivity lying at their bases belong to the common traits of the sexual life.

That cruelty and sexual impulse are most intimately connected is beyond doubt taught by the history of civilization, but in the explanation of this connection no one has gone beyond the accentuation of the aggressive factors of the libido. The aggression which is mixed with the sexual impulse is according to some authors a remnant of cannibalistic lust, a participation on the part of the domination apparatus (Bemächtigungsapparatus), which served also for the gratification of the great wants of the other, ontogenetically the older impulse. It has also been claimed that every pain contains in itself the possibility of a pleasurable sensation. Let us be satisfied with the impression that the explanation of this perversion is by no means satisfactory and that it is possible that many psychic efforts unite themselves into one effect.

The most striking peculiarity of this perversion lies in the fact that its active and passive forms are regularly encountered together in the same person. He who experiences pleasure by causing pain to others in sexual relations is also able to experience the pain emanating from sexual relations as pleasure. A sadist is simultaneously a masochist, though either the active or the passive side of the perversion may be more strongly developed and thus represent his preponderate sexual activity.

We thus see that certain perverted propensities regularly appear in contrasting pairs, a thing which, in view of the material to be produced later, must claim great theoretical value. It is furthermore clear that the existence of the contrast, sadism and masochism, can not readily be attributed to the mixture of aggression. On the other hand one may be tempted to connect such simultaneously existing contrasts with the united contrast of male and female in bisexuality, the significance of which is reduced in psychoanalysis to the contrast of activity and passivity.

Excerpt From Three Contributions To The Theory Of Sex By Sigmund Freud