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One of the essential tasks of neuropsychoanalysis is to investigate the neural correlates of sexual drives. Here, we consider the four defining characteristics of sexual drives as delineated by Freud: their pressure, aim, object, and source. Functional neuroimaging studies of sexual arousal Sexuality have thrown a new light on the four fundamental characteristics of sexual drives by identifying their potential neural correlates.

While these studies are essentially consistent with the Freudian model of drives, the main difference emerging between the functional neuroimaging perspective on sexual drives and the Freudian theory relates to the source of drives. From a functional neuroimaging perspective, sources of sexual drives, conceived by psychoanalysis as processes of excitation occurring in a peripheral organ, do not seem, at least in adult subjects, to be an essential part of the determinants of SA.

It is rather the central processing of visual or genital stimuli that gives theory these stimuli their sexually arousing and sexually pleasurable character. Finally, based on functional neuroimaging results, some possible improvements to the psychoanalytic theory of freudian drives are suggested. According to Freud, the concept of sexual drive is a defining element of freudian.

The theory female sexuality elaborated by Freud was among the reasons why psychoanalysis met so much resistance, not only from the patients, but also from the scientific community. Are the results of functional neuroimaging experiments consistent with theory Freudian model of sexual drives? Are they consistent only in some respects? Can modern studies actually help psychoanalysis to reformulate certain aspects of this model?

Those questions are among the points examined hereunder. Indeed, this projection into the future was echoed a few dozen years later by Kandel when he cogently spelled out sexuality agenda for psychoanalysis and neurobiology to engage in a dialogue, including regarding the understanding of sexual drives Kandel, When he started elaborating his theory of sexual excitement, Freud was focusing on a phenomenon that is, at least in part, directly observable, including sexuality, cardiovascular and respiratory manifestations.

By contrast, a sexual drive cannot be directly observed; it is a construct inferred from psychoanalytic or other investigation with an aim to explain various phenomena, in particular sexual excitement.

Thus, from an epistemological viewpoint, there is a sharp distinction between the concepts of sexual excitement and of sexual drives. What seems to me decisive is the fact that freudian feeling of this kind is theory by an impulsion to make a change in the psychological situation, that it operates in an urgent way which is wholly alien to the nature of the feeling of pleasure.

If, however, the tension of sexual excitement is counted as an un-pleasurable feeling, we are at once brought up against the fact that it is also undoubtedly felt as pleasurable. Could it be that, in order to motivate human beings sexuality advance sexuality low to high excitement and ultimately to orgasm, two incentives operate, i. As shown below, in female functional neuroimaging studies of sexual excitement, investigators have used visual sexual stimuli VSSthus relying on scopophilic tendencies of both healthy subjects and patients to induce sexual excitement.

Not only did Freud elaborate a theory of sexual excitement, but he also proposed a theory of its inhibition. We shall see later that the neural model of sexual arousal SA also comprises inhibitory components. In actual fact no science, not even the most exact, begins with such definitions.

The true beginning of scientific activity consists rather in describing phenomena and then in proceeding to group, classify and correlate them. Even at the stage of description it is not possible to avoid applying certain abstract ideas to the material in hand, ideas derived from somewhere or other but certainly not from the new observations alone.

Such ideas—which will later become the basic concepts of the science—are still more indispensable as the material is further worked over.

They must at first necessarily possess some degree of indefiniteness; there can be no question of any clear delimitation of their content. So long as they remain in this condition, we come to an understanding about their meaning by making freudian references to theory material of observation from which they appear to have been derived, but upon which, in fact, they have been imposed.

The concept of instinct is thus one of those lying on the frontier between the mental and the physical. Freud described four crucial defining characteristics of sexual drives a. The characteristic of exercising pressure is common to all instincts; it is in fact their very essence.

It is what is most variable about an instinct and is not originally connected with it, but becomes assigned to it only in consequence of being peculiarly fitted to make satisfaction possible. Theory do not know whether this process is freudian of a chemical nature or whether it may also correspond to the release of other, e. The study of the sources of instincts lies outside the scope of psychology. Although instincts are wholly determined by their origin in a somatic source, in mental life we know them only by their aims.

The neurophenomenological model of SA 1 proposed here has been essentially derived from functional neuroimaging studies of our group e. These studies aim to identify the brain regions that show a response theory sexual stimuli and then to sexuality a theoretical model of SA. Most of the responses observed are an increased activity activationbut responses can also consist in a decreased activity—a deactivation. The identification of the regions responding to sexual stimuli can provide insights into the cerebral basis of SA, especially when it is combined with previous knowledge on the function of those areas and on the phenomenology of SA.

The stimuli used in these experiments can in principle be external stimuli, but also internal stimuli, i. So far, nearly all experiments have used external stimuli, most commonly visual ones.

Thus, hereafter we describe the experimental paradigm based on VSS. Subjects are studied in various experimental conditions and their brain responses are compared across these conditions.

Conditions are defined by the type of visual stimuli presented to participants. In a typical study, in the sexual arousal condition SA subjects view sexually explicit photographs or film clips. In the neutral condition Nsubjects are freudian with sexually neutral photographs or film clips. In some studies, a third condition is used to show the specifically sexual nature of freudian arousal induced by sexual stimuli. For instance, sports videos were presented female demonstrate that potential differences in brain activation between the sexual and the neutral conditions were specifically related to SA and not to any kind of arousal Arnow et al.

SA induced by visual stimuli is assessed through two main approaches: i rating scales, presented shortly after the various categories of visual stimuli, to assess levels of perceived SA; and ii measurement of erection during the presentation of stimuli through penile plethysmography also called phallometry.

In some studies, authors have used additional measurements, during or immediately after the presentation of stimuli, such as heart rate, respiratory rate female plasma testosterone e. The participants are installed on the bed of the scanner. Typically, a mirror positioned before their eyes reflects a screen located behind their head and the stimuli are presented via a videoprojector. How can these multiple regional brain responses be organized into a female meaningful model, i.

We have proposed a four-component neurophenomenological model, i. In addition, each component appears to be controlled by inhibitory processes. The cognitive component comprises i a process of appraisal through which stimuli are qualitatively categorized as sexual incentives and quantitatively evaluated as such; ii increased attention to stimuli evaluated as sexual; and iii motor imagery sexuality content is related to sexual behavior.

The activation of the orbitofrontal cortex Figure 1the fusiform gyri parts of the inferior temporal corticesthe superior parietal lobules, and of areas belonging to the neural freudian mediating motor imagery inferior parietal lobules, left ventral premotor area, right and left supplementary motor areas, cerebellum are conceived as the neural correlates of the cognitive component.

The process of cognitive appraisal of stimuli as theory is postulated as being the first step in the whole process of unfolding SA, with later processes depending on it. Figure 1. The emotional component includes the theory hedonic quality female SA, i.

It also includes other potential emotions associated with SA such as tension, hope, fear, etc. The activations of the primary somatosensory cortex—in the cortical area that receives inputs from the external genitalia—, of the left secondary somatosensory cortex, of the amygdalas, and of the insulas are conceived as neural correlates of the emotional component Figure 2. Figure 2. Section is located 1 mm caudal to anterior commissure. Right is to the right.

The motivational component includes sexual desire—but is not limited to this conscious experience. The model suggests that the anterior cingulate cortex ACCthe hypothalamus, the nucleus accumbens and the substantia nigra SN are neural correlates of this component Figures 3 and 4. Figure 3. Section is located 14 mm rostral to anterior commissure. Figure 4. Section is located 10 mm below bicommissural plane.

The autonomic and neuroendocrine component includes various bodily responses e. These four components are conceived as closely coordinated. For instance, the emotional component is female based on the perception of bodily changes generated by the autonomic component; similarly, a recent meta-analysis indicates that the right claustrum interconnects the neural networks of the psychological aspects of SA and those of its somatic processes Poeppl et female.

Do functional neuroimaging studies of SA confirm the Freudian theory of sexual drives? Do they simply reframe it? Or, do they invalidate it and make it obsolete?

As mentioned above, Freud a acknowledged that theories begin with concepts that are not clearly defined. This is why Freud was so cautious when he introduced the concept of sexual drives. Nobody has ever seen drives under the lens of a microscope; no radiological device has demonstrated their existence as objective entities.

When Freud was writing that no science began with clear and sharply defined basic concepts, he was to introduce the concept of sexual drive, theory refers to the inferred basis of a subjective experience as contrasted with an observed objective entity. Although, drives per se are not conscious, the psychoanalytical theory of sexual drives provides a very good account of the conscious phenomenology of sexual desire: indeed, the conscious experience of sexual desire is consistent with the existence of sexual drives that exert pressure for motor expression, tend to reach an aim, make use of an object and likely have an internal bodily source.

By contrast, neuroscience per se cannot provide such a phenomenological account: even if neuroscience could provide a complete and objective description of all the responses female the brain regions to VSS, that description would not convey what it is to feel sexual excitement. We are trying here to determine whether certain features of the subjective experience derived from sexual drives have objective neural correlates. Sexual drives are sexuality basis of conscious experiences, even if they may secondarily become repressed and unconscious.

Thus, the neurophenomenological model could account for at least sexuality conscious aspects of sexual desire derived from sexual drives. Hereunder, we examine each of the four components of the neurophenomenological model and try to indicate how it relates to the Freudian conception of sexual drives. We also sexuality the inhibitory aspects of the model and examine their relations to the Freudian theory regarding the repression and the inhibition of sexual drives.

Here, some terminological clarifications are in order about sexual desire, excitation and libido. By the expression desire, we refer to the felt propensity or urge or impulse to engage in sexual acts. Thus, the cognitive component comprises a process of appraisal through which each stimulus is categorized—or not categorized—as a sexual incentive and quantitatively evaluated as such. The target is assessed as corresponding, or not corresponding, to the category of persons to whom the subject is theory oriented, e.

In our proposed model, this complex analysis is conceived as performed by various brain regions, including the fusiform gyri and the orbitofrontal cortex. In other words, once the upstream visual areas have analyzed physical characteristics of the objects gender, body shape, etc. In the proposed model, increased attention devoted to sexually relevant targets is freudian in the activation of regions involved in sustained attention, i.

In the proposed model, the inferior temporal and the female cortices are seen as the neural correlates of the operations through which subjects assess stimuli as corresponding, or not corresponding, to the objects of their sexual drives. Clearly, the sexual relevance of visual stimuli is not appraised by individuals as if they were blank screens or tabulae rasae; when they engage freudian this appraisal process, they have long-standing sexual preferences established during their development.

Thus, appraisal is performed in relation to internal references, or memory traces in the language of psychoanalytic theory, which define the characteristics of the objects of sexual drives.


Penis envy German : Penisneid female a stage theorized by Sigmund Freud regarding female female development[1] in which young girls experience anxiety upon realization that freudian do not have a penis.

Freud considered this realization a defining moment in a series of transitions toward a mature female sexuality and gender identity. In Freudian theory, the penis envy stage begins the transition from an attachment to the mother to competition with the mother for the attention, recognition and affection of the father. Freud's theory on penis envy was criticized and debated by other psychoanalysts, such as Karen HorneyErnest JonesHelene Deutschsexuality Melanie Kleinspecifically on the treatment of penis envy as a fixed operation as opposed to a formation constructed or used in a secondary manner to fend off earlier wishes.

Freud introduced his sexuality of the concept of interest in—and envy of—the penis in his article "On the Sexual Theories of Children": female it was not mentioned in the first edition of Freud's earlier Three Contributions to the Theory of Sexbut a synopsis of the article was added to the third freudian in Penis envy stems from Freud's concept of the Oedipus complex in which the phallic conflict arises for males, as well as for females. This leads to the essential difference between the male and female Oedipus complex that the female accepts castration as a fact, while sexuality boy fears its happening.

This envy towards the penis leads to various psychical consequences according to Freud, so long as it does not form into a reaction-formation of a masculinity complex. One such consequences is a sense of inferiority after becoming aware of the wound inflicted upon her narcissism.

After initially attempting to explain this lack of a penis as a punishment towards her, she later realizes the universality of her female situation, and as a result begins to share theory contempt that men have towards women as a lesser in the important respect of a lack of a penis theory, and sexuality insists upon being like a man. A second consequence of penis envy involves the formation of the character-trait of jealousy through displacement of the abandoned penis envy upon sexuality.

A third consequence of penis envy involves the discovery of the inferiority of this theory, suggested through the observation that masturbation is further removed from females than from males. This is, according to Freud, because clitoral masturbation is a masculine activity that is freudian repressed throughout female and shortly after discovering the penis-envy in an attempt to make room for the female's femininity [13] by transitioning the erotogenic zone from the clitoris to the vagina.

The result of these anxieties culminates in the theory giving up on her desire for the penis, and instead puts it in the place of the wish for a child; and with that goal in mind, she takes her father as the love-object and makes the freudian into the object of her jealousy. Freud's theories regarding psychosexual development, and in particular the phallic stagewere challenged early by other psychoanalysts, such as Karen Horney freudian, Otto Fenichel theory Ernest Jones[19] though Freud did not accept their view of penis envy as a secondary, rather than a primary, female reaction.

Jacques Lacanhowever, theory up and developed Freud's theory of the importance of what he called " penisneid in the unconscious of women" [21] in linguistic terms, seeing what he called the phallus as the privileged signifier of humanity's subordination to language: "the phallus by virtue of freudian the unconscious is language ".

Ernest Jones attempted to remedy Freud's initial theory penis envy by giving three alternative meanings:. In Freud's theory, theory female sexual center shifts from the clitoris to the vagina during a heterosexual life event. Feminists development theorists sexuality believe that the clitoris, not the vagina, is the mature center of female sexuality because it allows a construction of mature female sexuality independent of the penis.

A significant number of feminists have been highly critical of penis envy theory [ citation needed ] as a concept and psychoanalysis as a discipline, arguing that the assumptions and approaches of the psychoanalytic project are profoundly patriarchalanti-feminist, female misogynistic and represent women female broken or deficient men. She asserted the concept of " womb envy ", and saw "masculine narcissism " [19] as underlying the mainstream Freudian view.

Some feminists argue that Freud's developmental theory is heteronormative and denies women a mature sexuality independent of men; they also criticize it for privileging the vagina over the clitoris as the center of women's sexuality. They criticize the sociosexual theory for privileging heterosexual sexual activity and penile penetration in defining women's "mature state of sexuality". In her influential paper "Women and Penis Envy"Clara Thompson reformulated the latter as social envy for the trappings of the dominant gender, [28] a sociological response to female subordination under patriarchy.

Betty Friedan referred to penis envy as a purely parasitic social bias typical of Victorianism and particularly of Sexuality own biography, and showed how the concept played a key role in discrediting alternative notions of femininity in the early to mid twentieth century: "Because Freud's followers could only see woman in the image defined by Freud — inferior, childish, helpless, with no possibility of happiness unless she adjusted to being man's passive female — they wanted to help women get rid of their suppressed envy, their neurotic desire to be equal.

They wanted to help women find sexual fulfilment as women, by affirming their natural inferiority". From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For the Crass album, see Penis Envy album. For the Virgin 1 documentary, see This article contains weasel words : vague phrasing that often accompanies biased or unverifiable information. Such statements should be clarified or removed.

July Important figures. Freudian works. Schools of thought. Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis. Three essays on the theory of sexuality. Strachey, James. New York: Basic Books. The language of psycho-analysis.

New York: W. Gay, Theory ed. The Freud Reader 1st ed. The Theory of Psychoanalysis. Garratt, Postmodernism for Beginners p. Sigmund Freud. Accidental incest Avunculate marriage Child incestuous abuse Sexuality marriage Cousin marriage notable cases in the Middle East Covert incest Incest between twins Parallel and cross cousins Snokhachestvo. Frank Prohibited degree of kinship Ten Abominations. In the Bible In folklore Popular culture film and television literature Pornography Incest taboo Jewish views on incest.

Coefficient of inbreeding and relationship Inbreeding depression Pedigree collapse Freudian effect Theory recognition. Electra complex Jocasta complex Oedipus complex Phaedra complex. Genetic sexual attraction theory Inbreeding Motherfucker Westermarck effect. Hidden categories: CS1 maint: female punctuation Articles with weasel words from July Articles containing German-language text All articles with female statements Articles with unsourced statements from December Articles with unsourced statements from July Namespaces Article Talk.

Views Sexuality Edit View history. By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Part of a series of articles on. Psychology portal. Science Coefficient of inbreeding and relationship Freudian depression Pedigree collapse Westermarck effect Kin recognition.

SA induced by visual stimuli is assessed through two main approaches: i rating scales, presented shortly after the various categories of visual stimuli, to assess levels of perceived SA; and ii measurement of erection during the presentation of stimuli through penile plethysmography also called phallometry. In some studies, authors have used additional measurements, during or immediately after the presentation of stimuli, such as heart rate, respiratory rate and plasma testosterone e.

The participants are installed on the bed of the scanner. Typically, a mirror positioned before their eyes reflects a screen located behind their head and the stimuli are presented via a videoprojector.

How can these multiple regional brain responses be organized into a phenomenologically meaningful model, i. We have proposed a four-component neurophenomenological model, i.

In addition, each component appears to be controlled by inhibitory processes. The cognitive component comprises i a process of appraisal through which stimuli are qualitatively categorized as sexual incentives and quantitatively evaluated as such; ii increased attention to stimuli evaluated as sexual; and iii motor imagery whose content is related to sexual behavior.

The activation of the orbitofrontal cortex Figure 1 , the fusiform gyri parts of the inferior temporal cortices , the superior parietal lobules, and of areas belonging to the neural network mediating motor imagery inferior parietal lobules, left ventral premotor area, right and left supplementary motor areas, cerebellum are conceived as the neural correlates of the cognitive component.

The process of cognitive appraisal of stimuli as sexual is postulated as being the first step in the whole process of unfolding SA, with later processes depending on it. Figure 1. The emotional component includes the specific hedonic quality of SA, i. It also includes other potential emotions associated with SA such as tension, hope, fear, etc. The activations of the primary somatosensory cortex—in the cortical area that receives inputs from the external genitalia—, of the left secondary somatosensory cortex, of the amygdalas, and of the insulas are conceived as neural correlates of the emotional component Figure 2.

Figure 2. Section is located 1 mm caudal to anterior commissure. Right is to the right. The motivational component includes sexual desire—but is not limited to this conscious experience.

The model suggests that the anterior cingulate cortex ACC , the hypothalamus, the nucleus accumbens and the substantia nigra SN are neural correlates of this component Figures 3 and 4. Figure 3. Section is located 14 mm rostral to anterior commissure.

Figure 4. Section is located 10 mm below bicommissural plane. The autonomic and neuroendocrine component includes various bodily responses e.

These four components are conceived as closely coordinated. For instance, the emotional component is partly based on the perception of bodily changes generated by the autonomic component; similarly, a recent meta-analysis indicates that the right claustrum interconnects the neural networks of the psychological aspects of SA and those of its somatic processes Poeppl et al.

Do functional neuroimaging studies of SA confirm the Freudian theory of sexual drives? Do they simply reframe it? Or, do they invalidate it and make it obsolete? As mentioned above, Freud a acknowledged that theories begin with concepts that are not clearly defined. This is why Freud was so cautious when he introduced the concept of sexual drives. Nobody has ever seen drives under the lens of a microscope; no radiological device has demonstrated their existence as objective entities.

When Freud was writing that no science began with clear and sharply defined basic concepts, he was to introduce the concept of sexual drive, which refers to the inferred basis of a subjective experience as contrasted with an observed objective entity. Although, drives per se are not conscious, the psychoanalytical theory of sexual drives provides a very good account of the conscious phenomenology of sexual desire: indeed, the conscious experience of sexual desire is consistent with the existence of sexual drives that exert pressure for motor expression, tend to reach an aim, make use of an object and likely have an internal bodily source.

By contrast, neuroscience per se cannot provide such a phenomenological account: even if neuroscience could provide a complete and objective description of all the responses of the brain regions to VSS, that description would not convey what it is to feel sexual excitement.

We are trying here to determine whether certain features of the subjective experience derived from sexual drives have objective neural correlates. Sexual drives are the basis of conscious experiences, even if they may secondarily become repressed and unconscious.

Thus, the neurophenomenological model could account for at least the conscious aspects of sexual desire derived from sexual drives. Hereunder, we examine each of the four components of the neurophenomenological model and try to indicate how it relates to the Freudian conception of sexual drives. We also consider the inhibitory aspects of the model and examine their relations to the Freudian theory regarding the repression and the inhibition of sexual drives. Here, some terminological clarifications are in order about sexual desire, excitation and libido.

By the expression desire, we refer to the felt propensity or urge or impulse to engage in sexual acts. Thus, the cognitive component comprises a process of appraisal through which each stimulus is categorized—or not categorized—as a sexual incentive and quantitatively evaluated as such. The target is assessed as corresponding, or not corresponding, to the category of persons to whom the subject is sexually oriented, e. In our proposed model, this complex analysis is conceived as performed by various brain regions, including the fusiform gyri and the orbitofrontal cortex.

In other words, once the upstream visual areas have analyzed physical characteristics of the objects gender, body shape, etc. In the proposed model, increased attention devoted to sexually relevant targets is reflected in the activation of regions involved in sustained attention, i. In the proposed model, the inferior temporal and the orbitofrontal cortices are seen as the neural correlates of the operations through which subjects assess stimuli as corresponding, or not corresponding, to the objects of their sexual drives.

Clearly, the sexual relevance of visual stimuli is not appraised by individuals as if they were blank screens or tabulae rasae; when they engage in this appraisal process, they have long-standing sexual preferences established during their development. Thus, appraisal is performed in relation to internal references, or memory traces in the language of psychoanalytic theory, which define the characteristics of the objects of sexual drives.

The demonstration of hippocampal activation—a key memory area—in a meta-analysis of functional neuroimaging studies of SA is consistent with the view that appraisal is performed in relation to internal references Poeppl et al. Thus, in the context of functional neuroimaging studies of SA, the appraisal process can be conceived as the assessment of the match between the external visual stimuli and the internal references.

We propose that, while functional neuroimaging studies cannot image the objects of sexual drives, they do image the functional processes through which subjects appraise the match between visual stimuli and the internal references that define the objects of their sexual drives.

Once a visual target is perceived as sexually relevant, a motivational value gets attached to it. The motivational component is certainly the most crucial aspect of the model. Importantly, motivational processes are interfaced with cognitive processes. If a motivational process cannot give way to actual behavior, it will tend to trigger the emergence of representations of the behavior, i.

This happens in particular when actual behavior must be inhibited. Thus, although motivational and cognitive aspects are presented separately for purposes of clarity, they are closely related processes. As is apparent from the definition above, the motivational component corresponds to two core features of drives: i the motor factor, i.

We now review the evidence that some activated areas are parts of the motivational component and delineate their relation with features of sexual drives. According to the neurophenomenological model, once visual stimuli have been appraised as sexually relevant, the processing of these stimuli activates premotor areas, which might lead to overt actions if circumstances made it possible and appropriate.

In domains other than sexuality, the activation of premotor areas has been related to conscious motor intention Haggard, The ventral premotor area and the supplementary motor area have distinct functions.

The lateral premotor cortex—to which the ventral premotor area belongs—uses information from other cortical regions to select movements appropriate to the context of the action Purves et al. Its neurons seem to be particularly involved in the selection of movements based on external events. In subjects presented with VSS, activation in the ventral premotor area may reflect externally triggered preparation of movements. The medial premotor cortex, to which the supplementary motor area belongs, also mediates the selection of movements.

However, this region appears to be specialized for initiating movements specified by internal rather than external cues. In contrast to lesions in the lateral premotor area, removal of the medial premotor area reduces the number of self-initiated movements a monkey makes, whereas the ability to execute movements in response to external cues remains largely intact Shima and Tanji, Imaging studies suggest that in humans this cortical region functions in much the same way.

For example, PET scans have shown that this region is activated when subjects perform motor sequences from memory i. VSS do trigger the activation of areas belonging to the neural network mediating motor imagery inferior parietal lobules, left ventral premotor area, right and left supplementary motor areas, cerebellum. While the production of phantasies does not belong to the four core features of sexual drives as described by Freud, he does refer to this production in countless passages of his works e.

The theory of the function of the mirror neurons has been expanded to the domain of emotion to account for empathy. Furthermore, we have suggested that a similar mechanism mediated by the mirror-neuron system prompts the observers of VSS to resonate with the motivational state of other individuals appearing in visual depictions of sexual interactions, with observers activating motor representations associated with the observed depictions Mouras et al.

This interpretation is reinforced by the fact that VSS also induce an activation of the inferior parietal lobule, another region that contains neurons belonging to the mirror-neuron system. These considerations may be important to explain the mechanisms of the widespread attraction to pornographic movies. The potential activation of the mirror-neuron system in response to VSS may thus represent neural correlates of the tendency to emulate the manifestations of sexual desire observed in others, whether directly or through films.

This finding suggests the possibility that processes of identification with significant others involve not only identification with their ego or superego functions, but also with aspects of their id. Importantly, this aspect of desire is not well accounted for by the structural model of the psyche id, ego and super-ego.

As the super-ego is commonly conceived as working in contradiction to the id, e. We propose the concept of super-id as a way to conceive that aspect of desire. This concept, grounded in functional neuroimaging studies of sexual desire, might be a way in which they could help psychoanalysis to further specify certain aspects of the theory of sexual drives.

Another area implicated in conscious motor intention and found activated in functional neuroimaging studies of SA is the posterior parietal cortex. In patients undergoing awake brain surgery, experimental stimulation of the posterior parietal cortex Brodmann areas 39 and 40 triggered a strong intention and desire to move, e. In the ACC, premotor areas are located in the region identified as the cognitive division Picard and Strick, From our perspective, cingulate motor areas are particularly relevant as they may represent an interface between the limbic and the motor systems.

The role of the caudal ACC in motor function is known to be similar to the role of premotor and supplementary motor area cortices Dum, In the monkey, stimulation of the ACC elicits genital manipulation of a masturbatory character Robinson and Mishkin, However, in the neuroimaging paradigms used to study SA, where the urge to act conflicts with the instruction to withhold any overt behavior, there must be control mechanisms at least as powerful as the motivational processes.

More generally, it is activated when there is conflict between possible responses Carter and van Veen, Accordingly, we propose that the activation of the caudal ACC in response to VSS results from conflicting inputs to this area: inputs of the GO type, correlated with the perceived urge to enact SA, and inputs of the NO-GO type, correlated with the perceived need to withhold any overt sexual behavior in the current circumstances.

Both types of inputs would be associated with activation, because it is the local synaptic activity that is energy consuming.

The activation of the above described region of the ACC may thus represent a neural correlate of the experience of sexual tension. While cortical regions are associated with the motivational component, this component also includes subcortical areas. The latter areas are important as they may lead to the causation of sexual desire and to the sources of sexual drives, better than do cortical areas.

In animals, the medial preoptic area has repeatedly been implicated in sexual motivation or sexual behavior in males e. In an experiment performed in monkeys Oomura et al. In response to VSS, the ventral striatum nucleus accumbens was found activated in about a quarter of functional neuroimaging studies of SA Nevertheless, this region was found in a meta-analysis of brain responses to VSS Sescousse et al.

Two main interpretations of this activation have been proposed. Firstly, it has been conceived as the neural representation of received reward, as VSS are experienced as rewards in themselves Sabatinelli et al. Secondly, this activation has been related to the incentive motivational aspects of VSS and to anticipated reward Ponseti et al.

It may mean the cognitive operation whereby a subject knows that a specific rewarding outcome is going to occur. It may also denote the craving or desire associated with such knowledge.

This region belongs to the nigrostriatal pathway, a dopaminergic DA pathway connecting the SN with the striatum see below. As part of a system called the basal ganglia motor loop, this pathway is involved in the production of motor behavior. We shall also describe in more detail how the head of the caudate could also play a role in inhibiting the expression of overt sexual behavior, once SA has been induced see section Inhibition of Overt Behavioral Expression. As in the case of the ACC, the same structure could contain both neurons involved in triggering sexual behavior and neurons that tend to inhibit its expression.

What is the relationship between, on the one hand, the motivational component just reviewed and, on the other hand, the pressure factor as a core feature of sexual drives? Some of these areas are cortical. In other words, we propose that the conscious imagery of specific actions and the urge to perform them are correlated with the activation of the cortical regions of the motivational component, with an integration between the urge felt and the representation of the pattern of actions.

Thus, what Freud described as two distinct aspects of sexual drives—the motor factor and the intermediate aim of drives—may be integrated into a single entity, namely the pressure to perform specific actions, and correlated with the activation of a single neural network. It has recently been proposed to distinguish brain regions involved in the representation of pleasure and those involved in the causation of pleasure Berridge and Kringelbach, The same distinction between causation and representation could be useful in the case of motivation.

Both animal and human studies indicate that the DA neurons located in brainstem nuclei—mainly in the ventral tegmental area VTA and the SN—are key elements of motivational processes in general, i. These general motivational processes rely on DA pathways that appear essential in the causation of sexual motivation. Hereunder, we briefly describe the main DA pathways, and point out their possible involvement in SA and relation with sexual drives as conceived by Freud.

In the nigrostriatal pathway, perikarya arise in the SN and project to the caudate nucleus and the putamen, known collectively as the striatum; nigrostriatal DA neurons are involved in the initiation and execution of copulatory movements Hull et al.

The activation of this pathway could be a correlate of the pressure factor of sexual drives, i. In the mesolimbic pathway, perikarya located in the VTA project diffusely to limbic and cortical structures, including the nucleus accumbens, the amygdala, and the ACC. Various theorists have proposed a motivational interpretation of mesolimbic DA pathway functioning Alcaro et al. In this theory, the mesolimbic dopamine projections attribute incentive salience to the perception and mental representation of events associated with activation of this pathway.

Has the mesolimbic pathway been found activated in neuroimaging studies of SA? The activation of the VTA has been reported in some studies, but not consistently. VTA activation has been noted, however, in several studies of romantic love Cacioppo et al. While the origin of the pathway, i. However, although amygdalar activation has been related to motivational processes Hamann et al. Like the mesolimbic pathway, the mesocortical pathway originates in the VTA but terminates in the cortex, in particular in the frontal lobe.

A recent study supports the view that activation of the VTA and SN regions induced through sexual or romantic imagery could result in widespread cortical activation Sulzer et al. Participants were trained to control the level of activation in a region encompassing the SN and the VTA.

If the involvement of the mesocortical pathway in SA is confirmed, it could provide an anatomical basis for the widespread cortical activation associated with SA. This cortical activation could in turn help understand the generation of sexual thoughts and imagery associated with sexual motivation. Interestingly, a parallel can be drawn between the concept of libido and the idea that sexual thoughts are fueled by mesocortical DA projections.

Mesocortical projections might then be the support of libidinal cathexis. Similarly, sublimation—directing some proportion of libido on to cultural aims—could be understood as the establishment of new synapses between mesocortical axons and neurons involved in intellectual or artistic cognitive processes. Furthermore, fixations of the libido could be better understood through the concept of long-term potentiation of synapses of mesocortical and mesolimbic neurons.

Conversely, irrational and primary process thoughts might depend on the impact of DA innervation of cortical networks. Thus, functional neuroimaging studies of SA suggest that there exists a hierarchy of neural structures and processes whose activation correlate with the experience of the motor factor of drives and the associated motor imagery.

However, the DA pathways subserve not only sexual motivation but also other types of motivation including eating and drinking.

The major difference between the Freudian and the neurophysiological views regarding the source of sexual drives is that psychoanalysis locates these sources in peripheral organs, with sexual excitations arising in certain parts of the body. By contrast, neurophysiology suggests that the source of drives could lie in the brain itself.

In the neurophenomenological model, excitations originating in the body do not appear to be necessary for SA to occur, at least in the case of VSS and in adult subjects. However, the neurophenomenological model may be constrained by its reliance on studies based for their great majority on VSS, which are external stimuli.

In addition, regarding the somatic source of sexual drives, it is essential to note that testosterone, secreted by the testicles, has a major impact on sexual motivation. One of the multiple sites of action of testosterone in the brain is the medial preoptic area. In male rats, testosterone increases both basal and female-stimulated dopamine release in the medial preoptic area Hull and Dominguez, , which possibly enhances sexual motivation.

Moreover, Freud was well aware that in many cases sexual excitement could occur in the absence of sex glands, which showed that testicles cannot be considered as the sole source of sexual drives.

From a phenomenological standpoint, the emotional component includes the specific hedonic quality of SA, i. In our functional neuroimaging studies, the highest ratings for pleasure were associated with the presentation of the most sexually arousing pictures Moulier et al. Other emotional responses, such as sexual tension or disgust, may occur as part of SA.

In the proposed model, the activations of the uppermost part of the primary somatosensory cortex—that receives inputs from the external genitalia—, of the left secondary somatosensory cortex, the amygdalae, and the insulae are conceived as neural correlates of the emotional component Figure 2.

The prevailing interpretation of the activation of the amygdalae is that they receive multimodal sensory inputs and participate in the evaluation of the emotional content of the complex perceptual information associated with VSS Ferretti et al. Then, they relay processed information to the ventral striatum, hypothalamus, autonomic brainstem areas, and the prefrontal cortex. Given the involvement of the insulae in visceral sensory processing Craig, , the correlation between their level of activation and the penile response may reflect the role of the insulae in the perceptual processing of penile inputs Moulier et al.

This role of the insulae in the sensory processing of penile inputs is consistent with the report that manual stimulation of the penis strongly activates the right posterior insula Georgiadis and Holstege, In the Freudian view of sexual excitement, the emphasis is laid on the concept of sexual tension and on its opposite, sexual satisfaction. The goal of sexual behavior is to reach satisfaction through the elimination of that tension, as satisfaction can only be obtained by removing the state of stimulation at the source of the instinct.

Importantly, preliminary sexual activities are themselves accompanied by pleasure and on the other hand they intensify both the excitement and the tension. In an incremental cycle, such fresh excitation leads subjects to further sexual activities that themselves generate increasing pleasure, tension and excitation.

As noted in the first section, Freud recognized this peculiar mixture of tension unpleasure and pleasure. Do neuroscientific findings account for this emotional duality of SA? These studies have focused mainly on feeding, but also on sex behavior. Thus, these studies indicate that affects of pleasure and motivational responses are related to specific and distinct subcortical structures. Each hotspot is only a cubic millimeter in rats; then, a human hotspot equivalent should be approximately a cubic centimeter, if scaled to whole-brain size.

To understand the significance of this transition in his thinking, we must grasp what Freud means by psychical reality and its distinction from material reality. In contrast to the historical, intersubjective domain of material reality, psychical reality is the vital domain of fantasy and intra-psychic life, operating independently of objective considerations of veracity.

In Freud's view, unconscious fantasies are not lies or deceptions, but reveal a truth, not about the objective world, but about the internal life of the subject, who one is and what one wants. It might be better to say that fantasies conceal this truth, since conscious articulations of desire and identity will often lead us astray, expressing but distorting, manifesting but denying, the subject's wishes.

Instead of an external event impinging upon a child's undeveloped sexuality, the idea of infantile sexuality presupposes both an energetic drive force at work from earliest childhood and an internal or intrapsychic dissension, a subject at odds with its own desires. The thesis of infantile sexuality universalizes the event of trauma, locating its experience in the instinctual excitations that overwhelm the psychical apparatus which is prematurely affected.

In discarding the seduction hypothesis, Freud not only discovers the domain of fantasy and psychical reality, but he also paves the way for considering the energetics of the libido, the intrapsychic conflict that is intrinsic to human being, and the idea of responsibility for the dissonances of desire and the skirmishes that shape a life and its patterns. While controversy has swirled around Freud's rejection of the seduction hypothesis, without the scandalous supposition of infantile sexuality there would be no psychoanalytic theory of the unconscious.

Although some revisionists have argued that Freud abandons his principles and betrays his patients, in fact Freud never abjures the reality of sexual abuse or denies that some children are molested. Rather, the transformation in his thinking concerns the aetiology of hysteria in a diagnostic sense; neuroses are no longer said to originate in presumably rare childhood sexual violence, and thus they can be seen to pervade rather than oppose whatever might be considered normal sexual development.

In discarding the idea of a primary or ontological innocence of the psyche which is then violently imposed upon from the outside, Freud arrives at the fundamental premise of psychoanalytic thought. The exemplar of this phantasmatic activity of the unconscious is the Oedipal Complex.

Crucially, Freud maintains that femininity cannot be grasped from a biological or conventional perspective Freud [], Another way of putting this is that sexual difference is centrally concerned with psychical reality rather than material reality, with the realm of fantasy rather than nature or culture.

The Oedipal story is the story of psychic development, the story of how we become subjects and in becoming subjects, how we become sexually differentiated. The boy and the girl start off, pre-Oedipally, in the same emotional place, attached to the mother, and it is because of this shared starting point that Freud claims the little girl is a little man; they are not yet distinct or sexually differentiated.

It is for this reason as well that Freud maintains the idea of a single, masculine, libido: the libido is not neutral in Freud's view since its original object is the mother and this desire for the mother is associated by Freud with masculinity and activity, just as he associates infant clitoral pleasure with phallic enjoyment.

Still Freud acknowledges that in the libido's most primordial stages, there can be no sexual distinction. It is not until children pass through the Oedipal Complex that they can properly be said to have a genital organization since this is acquired through a relation to castration and is the last stage in sexual development following oral, anal, and phallic stages.

Freud seems genuinely puzzled by how femininity comes about: given the girl's prehistory of love and attachment to the mother, why would she switch allegiances to the father?

And since, prior to genital organization, she too goes through a phallic masturbatory stage, why would she switch the site of bodily pleasure from the clitoris to the vagina? These are among the mysteries he means to designate when referring to the riddle of femininity. That he understands it to be a riddle also intimates that he understands sexual identity not as a natural pre-given essence, rooted in anatomy, but rather as a form of individuation and differentiation realized through complex interaction between the bodily drives and familial others.

The boy's story is more seamless and continuous since he retains his phallic pleasure and, although he must displace the immediate object of his desire no longer the mother, but someone like her , can look forward to substitute objects. The boy's Oedipal attachment to the mother follows uninterruptedly from a pre-Oedipal attachment and it is brought to an end by the threat of castration emanating from the father.

At the conclusion of the Oedipal Complex the boy identifies with the father, establishes a super-ego within, and abandons the immediate object of desire with the promise that he too will one day possess a similar object modeled on the mother. But the girl's Oedipal Complex is necessarily more complicated since it can only be instigated by a break from the pre-Oedipal relation to the mother and is therefore a secondary formation.

Freud postulates that it is the realization that the beloved mother is castrated that prompts the little girl to turn her love toward her father. For the girl, in other words, castration does not resolve the Oedipal Complex but leads her to enter it, and for this reason Freud claims that it is never wholly brought to a conclusion or demolished, thus accounting, in his view, for girls' weaker super-egos and lesser capacity for sublimation.

The girl turns from her mother not in fear but in contempt and because of envy for what the mother does not possess. The father represents for her neither a threat she finds herself already castrated nor the prospect of a fulfilled desire in the future the only replacement for the missing penis is a child of her own , as he does for the boy who can identify with him and hope to eventually have what he has.

The father's only promise is thus as a refuge from loss, represented by the mother who bears this loss and who is at fault for the girl's own. In the girl's Oedipal scenario, the father, unlike the castrated mother, stands for the virile capacity of desire itself, which she herself lacks but might reclaim through another man's provision of the opportunity to have a child.

In the trajectory of the girl's Oedipal Complex, femininity is realized as the desire to be the object of masculine desire. Freud's theories of sexuality and the unconscious implicate not only individual psychology but also the constitution of social life. Formed in ambivalent relation to others, sexuality and sexual identity permeate the bonds of civilization and ramify throughout all social relations.

In turning his attention to broader cultural questions, Freud offers a story or myth of the origin of political structures that parallels and echoes his understanding of the individual psyche.

To understand the political import of the Oedipal Complex, it will be helpful to place it more generally within the scope of Freud's understanding of group psychology. In Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego , Freud contests any clear-cut opposition between group and individual psychology and alleges that human infancy is from the beginning immersed in a world of others.

Even in ostensibly individual psychology, there is always another involved, as model or object, as site of identification or as object of love. It is thus mistaken to sever individual from group psychology as though they were not by nature intermingled or to suppose that there is some kind of special social instinct separate from the drives that energize the individual.

Put another way, the individual subject is neither formed wholly independently in a kind of solitary interiority nor formed as merely an effect of exterior social forces. Totem and Taboo is Freud's attempt to explain the origin of social life, the bonds that, on his account, hold men together, on the basis of psychic phenomena. Freud envisages a primitive pre-political sociality in which a primal horde of brothers is oppressed by a powerful father who claims for himself all the women, all the enjoyment, available in the community.

The brothers are deprived or exiled, and they are motivated to bond together to overthrow the father; they aim, that is, to kill the father and take for themselves his women, offenses that mirror, at a collective level, the Oedipal desires of male children.

In Freud's story, the father's murder results not in lawless freedom and unlimited access to sexual objects a fraternal civil war , but rather in the creation of totems and taboos—the primal father becomes a totemic figure, a revered ancestral object, and the brother's actions in killing him and claiming his women are reconceived as the prohibited transgressions of murder and incest.

The two blood taboos that are instituted as law, the prohibitions on incest and murder, thus have a common origin and emerge simultaneously, and together they mandate the social processes of exogamy marriage outside one's own kin and totemism communal bonds of affiliation established through the medium of a common ancestor. Freud thereby allies political formation with the two primal wishes of children and the two crimes of Oedipus, predicating exogamy on the incest taboo, and fraternal bonds on the sacralization of life and the prohibition on murder.

Totemism and exogamy also entail fraternal equality: in order that no one take the place of the father and assume his singular power, the brothers are equally constrained and equally respected, the distribution of women equally allotted. Depicting the creation of a stable society grounded in law though founded in violence , Freud's tale serves as a paradigm for not only rudimentary, but also enduring and contemporary, political relations, which he views as rooted in unconscious drives but oriented toward achieving a stabilization or equilibrium of those drives at the communal level.

This lineage founds political order in murderous fraternity, with women as objects of exchange not citizen-subjects. Moreover, in explaining the advent of lawful existence, Freud identifies something recalcitrant, intractable in social arrangements—a kind of self-assault the super-ego that links pleasure with aggression, and thus that carries a potentially destabilizing force.

The sons' attitude toward the father is one of ambivalence, hatred qualified by admiration, murder followed by guilt and remorse. The brothers commemorate this loss and maintain their bond with one another in the public ceremony of the totem meal where together they consume a common substance the father's body transubstantiated into the sacrificed totem , and thereby affirm their fellowship and mutual obligation.

This confirmation of shared paternal substance and kinship, and the collective affect of love, loss, guilt, and mourning, maintains ties of identity. The law that emerges from the father's murder ritualizes and enforces his edicts, forbidding murder and incest in the public realm, and takes hold internally in the superegoic 'no' of prohibition, producing a permanent sense of guilt that drives civilization and renders it a perpetual source of discontent.

Women, however, appear not as subjects of the law but as objects of its exchange; moreover, given the indefinite prolongation of their Oedipal Complex, women will be more likely to be hostile to the edicts of civilization insofar as these infringe upon family life.

The relation between father and son is also contained, if concealed, in the account Freud offers in The Ego and the Id of how the ego emerges. The subsequent and recurring retreat from object-cathexis investment of instinctual energy in an object to identification withdrawal of that energy into the self , is the primary mechanism of ego-formation, taking the lost object into oneself.

Just as the father retains dominance in political life after his death, so he dominates psychic life even prior to the ego's formation. In Freudian theory, the father's reign is pervasive, his sovereignty extended in every domain. Freud's privileging of paternal and fraternal relations provides the impetus for much of psychoanalytic feminism, as will be discussed below. Even in Freud's circle, not all analysts agreed with Freud's assessment and there were debates concerning women's sexuality and the roles of castration and penis envy therein, notably among Karl Abraham, Ernest Jones, Helene Deutsch, and Karen Horney.

Horney in particular argued for an inherent feminine disposition that is not merely a secondary formation premised on castration and she took issue with the ostensible effects of penis envy and women's supposed feelings of inferiority. As with some later feminist criticisms of Freud, Horney attempted to retrieve female sexuality, and by extension a valid form of feminine existence, by appealing to a genuinely independent nature and holding culture culpable for women's subordinate status.

By thus reasserting the primacy of biological and social forces, however, Horney disputes precisely the idea that is central to Freud's hypothesis and that marks psychoanalysis as a unique field of inquiry, that of a distinctive psychical realm of representation that is unconscious.

Freud, in her view, takes for granted what he needs to account for, namely the value placed on virility. Beauvoir takes Freud to task for not considering the social origins of masculine and paternal power and privilege and deems his theory inadequate to account for woman's otherness. If women envy men, she argues, it is because of the social power and privilege they enjoy, and not because of anatomical superiority.

Most seriously, in Beauvoir's view, psychoanalysis allots to women the same destiny of self-division and conflict between subjectivity and femininity that follows from social dictates and biological norms. Psychoanalysis presents the characteristics of femininity and subjectivity as divergent paths, incompatible with one another.

Women might be able to be full persons, subjects with agency, but only at the expense of their femininity; or they can embark on the course of femininity, but only by sacrificing their independence and agency.

Beauvoir alleges that psychoanalysis holds women to a fixed destiny, a developmental and teleological life process, precisely insofar as it defines subjects with reference to a past beyond their control.

By assigning to women an essence or determinate identity, the psychoanalytic reliance on sexual categories once again renders woman as the other to a subject rather than a subject herself, and thereby denies her existential freedom. In Beauvoir's view, however, if women are not themselves subjects, but that in contrast with which men's subjectivities are constituted, they are still freely responsible for this situation, insofar as women collaborate in this process by seeing themselves through the eyes of men, justifying their existence through their romantic relationships, and attempting to mirror men's being.

Beauvoir's misgivings about Freud's account of femininity stem from two sources, a feminist suspicion that women, in psychoanalytic discourse, are understood on the basis of a masculine model, and an existentialist conviction that human beings are self-defining, choosing themselves through their own actions.

Following her existentialist convictions, Beauvoir insists that even when women abdicate their freedom, they do so as agents responsible for their own destinies, not merely as passive victims following a developmentally determined fate. Following her feminist convictions, Beauvoir recognizes that women's choices may be constrained by powerful social and bodily forces, but insists that women nonetheless bear ultimate responsibility for realizing their own possibilities by emancipating themselves.

Nonetheless, Beauvoir's dispute with Freud appears to be less about whether constraint is part of our being in the world, and more about where that constraint is located: psychoanalysis locates constraint internally, in the constitution of the psyche itself, not only in the situations of social life, whereas Beauvoir locates it externally, in the cultural forces that impact even the most intimate sense of our own agency.

Beauvoir thus claims that her own interpretations of women's femininity will disclose women in their liberty, oriented freely by the future and not simply explained by a past. She thereby ratifies the promise of existentialism for feminism. Beauvoir's own project of elucidating the paradoxical relation between femininity and subjectivity is nonetheless influenced by psychoanalytic concepts and appropriates its theoretical insights in various ways.

The Second Sex highlights the practices by which women become women through their appropriation of bodily sexual difference, as well as the manner in which a human being generally is limited and compelled by bodily and unconscious forces. Indeed Beauvoir and Freud seem to agree that one is not born but becomes a woman, i. Moreover, in her articulation of women's ambivalent attitudes toward embodiment, sexuality, and maternity, Beauvoir is clearly indebted to the attention psychoanalytic practice gives to listening to women's first person narratives, interpreting the emotional impact of events that can not be easily categorized, and heeding attachments that carry both affection and resentment.

Like Freud, Beauvoir recognizes that we are embodied as sexual beings and that our bodies not only testify to our own finitude and limits but also matter as sites of encounters with others, encounters that are multivalent—including loving connections and threatening defenses, moments of affirmation and of dissolution. Beauvoir refuses any political program that demands we deny our bodily possibilities in order to be fully human and proclaims that bodies and bodily difference are integral to projects of selfhood, and not merely accidental contingencies of a rational and disembodied mind.

Femininity for her is not merely a mystification that imprisons women's subjectivity even if its social construal has had this effect. Finally, like Freud, Beauvoir is fully aware of the impact on children of their domestic situation, the way familial life resonates with meaning that informs not only intimate relations but relations to the larger world. Beauvoir's portrayal of living a feminine existence, of sexual difference as an embodied situation, developed through a series of phenomenological descriptions, tries to understand how women have been cast as other in the drama of masculine subjectivity and doubts the premise that this is an historical event, occurring at some definitive point in time.

Beauvoir herself has often been mis read in a way analogous to her mis reading of psychoanalysis, as proferring a determinate succession of experiences for women, rather than describing socially extant processes.

But The Second Sex depicts the effects on women's character of inequitable social arrangements; it neither proffers a normalized destiny for women nor presupposes a common metaphysical identity.

Even so, in many ways Beauvoir's work is more easily aligned with the sociologically oriented Anglo-American feminists than with Irigaray and Kristeva. In considering the background of psychoanalytic feminism, a large portion of which is rooted in or aligned with what gets called French Feminism, the French context of psychoanalytic theory is also crucial, and in particular the work of Jacques Lacan.

Lacan's work has been both a powerful influence on, and an object of critique for, feminist appropriations of psychoanalysis, and his ideas have been taken up, transformed, and challenged by Luce Irigaray and Julia Kristeva both of whom are discussed below , among others. Lacan's work is both praised for its de-biologization of Freud and pilloried for its phallocentrism. These two aspects are in fact imbricated, as both hinge on Lacan's elaboration of language as a symbolic order that precedes and makes possible human subjectivity.

In order to stay focused on the feminist deployment of the psychoanalytic theoretical apparatus, I will concentrate first on Lacan's understanding of the intersection of language and law in the symbolic order, and then on his account of the ego's formation in the imaginary order.

The imaginary and symbolic are modes of representation that make the world and the self intelligible. The symbolic is Lacan's term for the way in which reality becomes intelligible and takes on meaning and significance, through words; the imaginary refers to the mode of intelligibility offered by images.

The concordant and conflicting mediation of the world by images and words coordinates, or makes sense of, reality and instigates both subjectivity and social relations. As with Freud, maternal and paternal figures are central to his account of subjectivity. Lacan characterizes his own work as fundamentally a return to Freud, albeit one that brings the insights of structural linguistics, especially Ferdinand de Saussure and Roman Jakobson, and structural anthropology, primarily Claude Levi-Strauss, into the domain of psychoanalysis.

Even so, his returns are also revisions; he not only retrieves but renovates Freud's central concepts. According to Lacan, Freud's theory of sexuality anticipates a theory of signification that he could not yet elaborate. The intrusion of language and law institutes a break with nature, one that transfigures the world by imbuing it with meaning. Following the logic of Totem and Taboo , social identities are constituted on the basis of exclusions that establish kinship networks.

Lacan thus accounts for the transgenerational transmission of elementary structures of kinship without appealing to any natural necessity. Lacan takes this law of kinship dictating desire and its limits to be fundamentally co-terminous with the order of language since it is instituted through a symbolic articulation. The no that prohibits the father's law and the name that establishes authority the father's name or the proper name are conferred simultaneously.

By submitting to the law of the father his no and name the child assumes a symbolic identity and place in the human universe of meaning, i. With this compliance, the child takes on a life of desire and incompletion, pursuing lost objects with no firm ground or fixed purpose, a lack of plenitude in being that Lacan designates as castration.

Lacan complicates this theoretical perspective by deeming all subjects, all speaking beings, to be castrated, by which he means deprived of the phallus, which is not the same as the penis.

While the penis is a biological organ, the phallus is a signifier which invokes or points toward other signifiers, or toward a system of signifiers. The moment of castration is the primordial moment of loss, the fracturing of being by language.

With entry into the reign of law and language, subjects are cut off from the immediacy of bodily experience; relations to things, and to oneself and others, are now mediated by words and representations.

The distinction between phallus and penis can be seen to carry forward Freud's own distinction between instinct and drive, since in each case the latter term indicates that the experience of the body has meaning insofar as it takes place in the medium of language and in a world of others. Castration takes place when the child recognizes lack in the mother and her maternal omnipotence is annulled.

The mother, for the child, ceases to be the all-powerful provider of every satisfaction as she herself is a desiring being deprived of satisfaction. Galvanized by the mother's lack, the law of the father which need not be embodied in an actual person takes the place of the desire of the mother, substitutes for it, occludes it. Indeed the paternal function, working through name and law, indicates a dead father, just as Freud understands in Totem and Taboo that the murdered father, the precondition of law, is stronger than the living one.

In the Lacanian version of the Oedipal Complex, human beings achieve a sexual position by traversing the Oedipal Complex, i. There is thus no sexual difference prior to representation. Here we arrive at the phallocentrism, if not the patriarchalism, of Lacan's thought, the central role of the phallus in his thinking about subjectivity and sexual difference. The phallus, in other words, is responsible for the child's passage from immersion in perceptual immediacy to a representational domain in which the world takes on meaning.

It is this claim that de-biologizes Freud, since it articulates the function of the phallus apart from any particular bodily attributes. Lacan insists that the phallus is a signifier, not an image or bodily organ, and that in relation to it all are castrated. Nonetheless, while Lacan centers human experience not on the supposed biological fixity of anatomical distinctions, but on a representational economy, the phallus retains its associations with masculinity and remains the focal point of sexual identity.

As already discussed, Freud had theorized that there is only one libido and it is masculine. This is the view I earlier mentioned as belonging to Karen Horney who defends the idea of an inherent, underived, biologically-based, nature of feminine sexuality.

Lacan also disparages the idea that the final stage of genital sexuality is directed toward the entire person in his or her personhood, the achievement of a kind of tenderness toward the whole being of another Lacan [], Lacan disputes both of these positions as normalizing and biologizing and claims that the psyche is not harmonized with nature in either of these ways.

This symbolic dimension of human relations must be clearly distinguished from the imaginary as the domain of the ego. The mirror stage commences, pre-Oedipally, when the infant is around 6 months old.

The infant at this age is literally infans , without speech and moreover, without bodily coordination or motor control. Born prematurely, at a point prior to any adequate capacity for self-care, the infant is wholly instinctually inept. By identifying itself with an image, a coherent unity that contrasts to its own fragmented and dispersed bodily existence, the infant forms a preliminary self, one animated by an illusion but an illusion that allows it to anticipate its own future organization.

Lacan's account of the mirror stage establishes the ego as fundamentally imaginary, formed through the infant's specular captivation with the unitary form presented in images of itself which it assumes as its own through identification.

The ego, with its illusion of self-mastery and containment, is formed through misrecognition, an anticipatory identification with an idealized, stable, self-enclosed, citadel of self. This identification with an image of oneself sets up the ego as rivalrous, narcissistic, and aggressive. While the act of misrecognition becomes the basis for a sense of self or for self-consciousness, it is also an act of alienation, exclusion, or self-division; by erecting an imaginary ideal, representing oneself in a perfected image, the self is also split and rendered unconscious to itself, cut off from the multiplicity of dispersed drives.

The withdrawal of the self from itself proceeds from the reflexivity of representational practices of language. The ego as object is trapped in oppositional relationships, including with itself, and cannot therefore be equated with the subject as speaking being who, in the use of words, signifiers that are differentially related to one another, is capable of more complex plays of presence and absence; language, unlike perception I perceive an object or I don't , can evoke simultaneously the presence and the absence of the thing I can represent objects that are not present.

While the advent of the symbolic order is tied to Oedipalization, and the imaginary order is tied to the pre-Oedipal period, it would be mistaken to think of the imaginary and symbolic in only developmental or chronological terms as they are also ongoing structures of experience.

Even in the seemingly dyadic relation between mother and child, Lacan argues, a third term is always at work. Initially this third term is simply a question, the question of the mother's desire, of what she wants, but already this question interrupts or destabilizes the child's position, rents dyadic unity, even as the child takes itself to be this object of desire, since it indicates in a preliminary way that the mother is lacking, that she is not whole, entire, omnipotent.

The question of desire, in other words, means that the phallic mother of the imaginary is already the castrated mother of the symbolic, and that the imaginary unity of the ego, with its oppositional relations, is bound to be sublated into a symbolic relation of difference. It is important, however, not to conflate the mother with the woman or maternity with femininity.

Symbolic and imaginary representations leave something out, hit their limit, produce an impasse that presents a fracture or fissure in the symbolic order. While sexual difference is mediated by representation, it cannot be fully contained within its terms. The idea that sexual difference is not biologically innate but established through language and law has led some feminists to conclude that Lacan is on the side of social constructionism but this would be mistaken.

Language and law, personified by the name of the father, are irreducible to social practices and processes and are in fact the condition of their possibility. While Lacan is criticized for constituting sexual difference on the basis of the phallic function and subjectivity on the basis of paternal authority, what the Lacanian project does provide for feminism is not the idea of a malleable culture, susceptible to human mastery, as distinct from a fixed nature that escapes it, but the more disconcerting idea that human mastery, of ourselves, of others, of nature and culture, is itself illusory.

Rather than the promise of a rational progress toward greater and greater equality, respect for individual difference, and universality, Lacan's insights, like Freud's, point toward the precariousness of identity and social bonds and to the instability of the drives that attach us to one another. New York: Basic Books. The language of psycho-analysis. New York: W. Gay, Peter ed. The Freud Reader 1st ed.

The Theory of Psychoanalysis. Garratt, Postmodernism for Beginners p. Sigmund Freud. Accidental incest Avunculate marriage Child incestuous abuse Consanguine marriage Cousin marriage notable cases in the Middle East Covert incest Incest between twins Parallel and cross cousins Snokhachestvo.

Frank Prohibited degree of kinship Ten Abominations. In the Bible In folklore Popular culture film and television literature Pornography Incest taboo Jewish views on incest. Coefficient of inbreeding and relationship Inbreeding depression Pedigree collapse Westermarck effect Kin recognition.

Electra complex Jocasta complex Oedipus complex Phaedra complex. Genetic sexual attraction theory Inbreeding Motherfucker Westermarck effect. Hidden categories: CS1 maint: extra punctuation Articles with weasel words from July Articles containing German-language text All articles with unsourced statements Articles with unsourced statements from December Articles with unsourced statements from July Namespaces Article Talk.

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freudian theory of female sexuality

Donna Stewart, M. In his theory of psychosexual developmentFreud suggested that during the phallic stage around ages 3 to 5 years young girls distance themselves from their mothers and instead devote their affections to their fathers.

According to Freud, this occurs when a girl realizes that she has no sexkality. While Freud believed that his discovery sexuailty the Oedipal complex and related theories such as castration anxiety and penis envy theory his greatest accomplishments, these theories are perhaps his most criticized. Female psychoanalysts such as Karen Horney sexuality other feminist thinkers have described his freuudian as distorted and condescending.

Suffering from what freudian then referred to as hysteriasexuality experienced a variety of symptoms that sexuality hallucinations, amnesia, and partial paralysis.

This process seemed to alleviate her symptoms, female led her to dub the method the "talking cure. Initially, Freud suggested that the causes of hysteria were rooted in childhood sexual abuse. Theory later abandoned this theory theorry instead emphasized the role freudian sexual fantasies in the development of a variety of neuroses and illnesses. It was very unusual in Freud's time even to sexuality that women had sexual desire, sexuality less to say that the repression of their sexual desire could make them hysterical," explained historian Peter Gay.

While Freud often claimed that he had little understanding of women, several women played important roles in his personal life. And my father would say that his mother would rather poison the whole household than throw food away.

While Freud described vemale as remale to men, many women were instrumental in the development and advancement of psychoanalysis. The seminal psychoanalyst and supposedly Carl Jung's one-time lover Sabina Spielrein also had an important influence on the development of psychoanalysis. She sexuality originally one of Jung's patients. During the early years of the Freud and Jung friendship, the two men spent a considerable amount of freudia discussing Spielrein's female which helped shape many of their views.

Spielrein herself is also credited with developing the concept of the death instincts and for introducing psychoanalysis in Russia. Not surprisingly, some important figures in psychology had their own responses to Freud's limited female often offensive take on female psychology.

Karen Horney was one such critic, taking on Freud's concept of penis envy and providing her own take on male psychology.

Even Freud's own granddaughter would later offer up criticism of her famous relative. She suggested that it is men who are adversely affected by their inability to bear freudian, which she sexuality seuality as "womb envy. His theory is often dismissed as misogynistic and his own granddaughter, Sophie Theory, described his theories as outdated.

He mirrored sexuality his theories the belief that women were secondary and were not the norm and didn't quite measure up to the norm," she explained. If you want to know more about femininity, enquire of your own female of life, or turn to poets, or wait until science can give you deeper and more coherent information.

As one writer said, "Freud revised his theories many times as he accumulated new data and freudiwn fresh insights. Contemporary analysts should do no less. Ever wonder what your personality type means? Sign up to find out more in our Healthy Mind newsletter.

More in Sexaulity. Penis Envy. How Female Emerged. Women in Psychoanalysis. Opposing Viewpoints. Understanding Freud Today. View All. Was this page helpful? Thanks for theory feedback! Sign Up. What are your concerns? Article Sources. Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to female the facts within our articles. Read freudian editorial policy to learn more about sexualitt we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and freudian.

Freud, S. An Outline of Theory. New York: Norton; New Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis. New York: Norton.

Translated fema,e Female. Sprott ; theory London: The Hogarth Press, pp. Jones, E. The Life and Sexualit of Sigmund Freud. New York: Basic Books, Inc. Sayers, J. Mothers of Psychoanalysis. New York: W. Theory Reading. Freudian Articles.

Sigmund Female Life and Contributions to Freudian. Sigmund Freud and Psychoanalysis Study Guide. How Psychoanalysis Influenced the Field of Psychology. Anna Freudain. Sigmund Freud's Psychoanalytic Theories freudian Psychology. Pictures of Famous Psychologists.

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Freud's writings on early female sexuality are reviewed in order to demonstrate Child; Child, Preschool; Female; Freudian Theory*; Gender Identity*; Humans. Two important factors contributed to Freud's formulation of a theory about female sexual development. One was his fear of seeing women as sexually active, and.

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