3 MIN READ | Psychotherapy

Pubertal Nightmares of the Sexual Difference (Part 2)

Jean-Luc Vannier

Cite This
Jean-Luc Vannier, (2016, August 31). Pubertal Nightmares of the Sexual Difference (Part 2). Psychreg on Psychotherapy. https://www.psychreg.org/pubertal-nightmares-part-2/
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Editor’s note: This article is part of a series about Kevin and his sexual awakening. You can read the Part 1 here.

Once extended, Kevin quickly adopts a fetal position: this, he says, “allows him to relax and to fall asleep at night in his room.” On the couch, he wriggles like a worm, turns over or rolls himself into a ball. He constantly crisscrosses his legs, rubbing his feet against each other or sliding his hands folded in the crotch. He brushes his arm with one of his hands or caresses his head slowly. Sometimes, lying face down, half his body hanging over the couch from where he traces with his index some patterns designed by the weaves of the Persian carpet. This shows fascinating choreographic gestures elaborated with seductive lasciviousness: who was first seduced will then seduce?

Peacefully, Kevin lets his body speak – the word melt would better suit – while half opening this reflexive dam mentioned above to get started, as indicated by Ferenczi, a masturbatory game with the body organs where “the action is removed from the thought.” Kevin shows us almost physically how “the facilitations serve the primary function of the nervous system.” It tackles the subject of his own body and poses an enigmatic look at his hands, indeed long and thin, as if he was questioning their membership or was interrogating their identity. Were these hands really his own? Why and where did he get them from? We point out this scene to him: he punctuates, as he is doing it usually, by accepting the proposal that we formulated once to him: “This speaks to me.” He recognises “his distaste for the sport” unlike his father and his brother, both of them accomplished athletes.

The transference operates one day when his mother picks him up after a session and that she wanted to change the schedule of the next one because of a competition the following week. He quickly replies, “This is the end of the season, it does not matter if I miss it.”

After some time, he brings two dreams: he walks on the beach, quietly and then he is suddenly assaulted, abducted by two masked men. He finds himself sequestered in a car and taken hostage in a house. Then, nothing left. He expresses his astonishment over the “lack of end” and that of the fact that “he did not wake up.” His free associations punctuate the work of the previous sessions where the antagonism of the two psychic drives had been interpreted: “one wants, the other refuses”, a battle which leads to a compromise-formation. He explains, not without acuity, that he “identifies himself with these two men”: the mask is used not to appear vis-à-vis the outside while the existence of the two protagonists is aimed at concealing one of the two forces that assaulted him. He added: “I want and at the same time, I’m afraid to know the outcome of that dream.” A second dream follows: he drowns while swimming, he who feels “so comfortable in the water.” He felt no fear at that time and that, unlike the previous dream.

Can we deduce, beyond a “thalassale regression”, the possibility of coalescence between “sleep and intrauterine coupling”? This dreamlike story leads him to associate about its deep concern when his father or his brother returns late from the sport training. He feels some “stress” when he finds out the delay. The father is at the centre of his concerns when he insists on “his anxiety to disappoint him.” This father is probably unattainable for Kevin: “The psychoanalytic sessions are for him, said once his father, with detachment. How not to perceive the significance of the fantasy of castigation about which Freud reminds us the “passive dimension,” the “feminine attitude towards the father”? We whisper to him: what about your mother? He replies promptly: “She’s strong, almost invincible.” He mentions “the pains of the menstruation and those of the childbirth”. While betraying the weight of his own debt, Kevin ensures that women go through “more hardship than men and this is what makes them stronger.”

What can be done with this pubescent body tossed between a male fragility and a maternal omnipotence? “The paternal hypnosis is equivalent to the terror of being killed, the maternal hypnosis is equivalent to the terror of being abandoned by the mother.” How to get out of this dilemma? Is this just a problem of a homosexual object choice suggested by “the traumatic awareness of the illusory nature of the alleged relationship of love?” Is Kevin tempted by the transgender registry?

Jean-Luc Vannier is a French psychoanalyst based in Nice (French Riviera), and is full-time lecturer of psychoanalysis at Nice Sophia-Antipolis University, EDHEC Business School, Ipag Business School. He regularly writes for several French magazines and has his own columns. Jean-Luc is an editorial board member of the Psychreg Journal of Psychology. You can follow him on Twitter 



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