4 MIN READ | Psychotherapy

Pubertal Nightmares of the Sexual Difference (Part 3)

Jean-Luc Vannier

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Jean-Luc Vannier, (2016, September 1). Pubertal Nightmares of the Sexual Difference (Part 3). Psychreg on Psychotherapy. https://www.psychreg.org/pubertal-nightmares-part-3/
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Editor’s note: This article is part of a series about Kevin and his sexual awakening. You can read the Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

Several thoughts arise in the analyst’s mind at this stage: we are first of all struck by the ambivalence of Kevin, by his oscillation between the masculine and the feminine, referring to the riddle of bisexuality. The very one about which Freud writes in “The Ego and the Id” that it “makes so difficult to see through the primitive reports of the choice of object and identifications.” A bisexuality or a trans-sexuality whose the maternal etiology – the mother with a penis – makes little doubt: a “too gratifying mother-child” symbiosis is causing “extreme femininity in the boy” and this recalls the “initial impression that parents engrave into their child”, sometimes even before the birth. We endorse radically the assumption of a sexual “allocation” of Kevin by his mother: allocation in the sense of a “complex set of acts which extends in the language and in the meaningful behaviour of the entourage.” An acquired gender which is preceding the sex “but which is organised by him.” As if the mother had unconsciously “infiltrated” Kevin with her “sexuality”, by her reactivation of her infantile sexuality. The gender is connected to the “male-female distinction” says Professor Laplanche elsewhere.

We must also elaborate on Kevin’s ability to operate in the midst of his dreams, the discrimination referred to in the psychoanalysis and called Realitätsprüfung or the reality testing. How to understand this “little inner voice”, the one that “a normal person kept hidden in a corner of [their] soul” and “let parade morbid ghosts before her as a disinterested observer”? To recognise the rise of it in his case does not necessarily lead Kevin on the paths of the psychosis: every neurotic, according to Freud, eacts the same way in respect of a small fragment of reality.” In the early days of his analysis, this “little voice” has parasitised somehow the transference: Kevin was clinging to it in order not to “enter” a work on himself. A paradox of the early stage of the treatment: what Kevin seized as an ally was in fact an obstacle for his analysis. The “reality testing” donned the role of a denial with the risk to “underestimate the value of the fantasies in the formation of the symptoms by invoking precisely that they are not realities.” What Freud puts, as well as the censorship, in the great institutions of the ego should not make us forget the mistakes in that what too much trust in this agency, is likely to lead us.

What about this “reality test” as shown by in Kevin? Should we place it “at the outer periphery of the ego, governing the communication of the ego with the ego-ideal”? Let us remember that this “little voice” arises also in our dreams when we are curiously involved in a situation threatening our integrity. We get a reassurance by the fact that this is “only” a dream. This element should may be make us think to move it towards a device linked to the superego as a “particular critical agency of self-observation” as well as these punishment dreams want to “fulfil the wishes of this critical agency”?

This similarity is probably not innocent: in the waking state, Kevin mobilises the possibilities of his preconscious system in order to convince himself of the nullity of these threats of aggression. But, when he sleeps, his hallucinations sign this regression where the perceptual system is invested by internal excitations. Originally, don’t we have to deal with the same remnants of “the domination of the pleasure principle”? The “blank” in Kevin’s nightmares – the harsh reality of his sexual desire – could possibly be “arranged” by the punishment which he seems to be the expiatory victim. The subsequent sessions develop a sense of acceptance of himself that he translated in his own way: “everyone is different” … “what I feel is not monstrous.” He “forgets” to close the kitchen window before falling asleep. The assaults of the night – mental and physical – decrease and, then, vanish without enabling us to identify the start of a tipping from an infantile self-erotism into an adult genitality.

Did we manage to achieve his autonomy and to help him to “develop his individual desire” which should be the “sole purpose of the analysis”? We will not have enough time to discern in this work this part potentially devolved in the “adult post-education, a correction to the child’s education” stated, not without a certain ambivalence, by Sigmund Freud. The end of the night terrors and the abandonment of the obsessive security precautions decide the mother, as the summer holidays approach, to stop the analysis of her son. During the final session, we want to provide a date for resumption in September in order “not to let Kevin in the nature.” “We’ll see”, she decides. Since a while, she complained of Kevin’s silence at the end of the sessions while, as she told us, “he was telling me about it at their very beginning.” In her phone message announcing the interruption of the treatment, the mother said: “Thanks for everything. Kevin goes to see a psychotherapist with whom he can share.” The mother obviously spoke for herself.

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. He is an editorial board member of the Psychreg Journal of Psychology. You can follow him on Twitter 



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