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Ego & Ego-splitting in BPD
Transcript of Ego & Ego-splitting in BPD
The caregivers empathic response provides the infant with feedback on his or her emotional state
As long as this response is marked and is reasonably accurate, it leads to the childs internal representation of its own feeling states.
Through this process the child will learn to distinguish between his self states and the others, inside & outside. Retaining mental closeness through mirroring autoerotic drives
basis for mentalization at first there are only autoerotic drives, the ego is a result of later development
the basic problem for the infant is to regulate its affect, in terms of the organic disturbances, which are an effect of the infants lack of sensory and motor coordination
therefor the infant experiences its body as fragmented
add to this the thrust that libidinal drives imply and we have a perfect cocktail of helplessness
the Ego comes into being as a reaction against this troubling state, it gives the infant an opportunity to see itself as a unity
from birth onward the child shows a tendency for contingency detection and social biofeedback.the tendency to detect contingency is very much like animal development, which is triggered and shaped by the images ("die Gestalt") the animal is confronted with. the fragmented body, a cocktail for helplessness the representational system,
an opportunity for unity the basic problem for the infant is to regulate its affect.
the Ego comes into being as a reaction against this troubling internal state, it gives the infant an opportunity to see itself as a unity, through the regulating mirroring of his internal states by the (m)other.
thereby is the mother's face the signifier and the infant's own emotional arousal the signified
the self is originally an extension of the experience of the (m)other
the empathic affect-regulation "mirroring" within an attachment relation leads to the construction of second order representations of the infants own affect states
the infant becomes able to detect and group together the sets of internal cues that indicate categorically distinct affect states. the internalized mirrored presentations associated with these unconscious affect states provides the ifant with a sense of self as a regulating agent. this leads to a complex self-representation.
thinking about oneself
and the other secondary representation of ones own affective states implies, a sense of self and affect regulation
these secondary representations form the basis for mentalization, that is, thinking about oneself and about the other
the underlying mechanism is the childs innate sensitivity to detect contigencies between its automatic state-expressive behaviour and the affect-reflective facial and vocal display of the caregiver
intersubjectivity: in order to maximize the contingency, the child will reduce or refine its emotional expressions and by such means gain control over the other's reaction cognitive approach thinking about oneself and the other Mentalization metapsychological constructs Ideal-Ego Superego Ego-Ideal Ego metapsychology the Ego is originally an extension of the experience of the other
the Ego "self" is the product of the connection between the perception of what is going on in the inside and the representations by the external world
the Ego's function is reality testing.
this is very similar to what Freud postulated in "The Ego and the Id"
thereby are the drives attached to self-perservative Ego-drives
Drive is defined as a measure of demand made upon the mind for work
the drives source is a somatic process The Ego "self" in attachment theory Two modes structure psychic reality equivalence mode pretend mode a child expects that its own and the other's internal worlds correspond completely to the external situation
there is no difference between representation and reality
in pretend mode, ideas are felt to be only mental and there is no correspondence to reality
pretend mode permits permits a safe exploration, a "playing with reality" in which there is no consideration of the realconsequences of this playing Integration a firm sense of self exploration: playing with reality clinical implications: individuals with BPD are normal metalizers except in the context of attachment relationships, in these contexts mentalization is inhibited
in the face of emotional arousal patients tend to fall back on a prementalistic mode of functioning, they struggle to experience themselves as authors of their actions.
inhibition of mentalization leads to a sense of temporally diffused identity (the fog), experience of inauthenticity, incoherence, emptiness, disturbance of body image and gender role and the inability to make comittments.
such patients tend to misread minds, both their own and others
they fall back on a prementalistic representations of internal states
"concreteness of thought"
in psychic equivalence mode the experience of an "as if" state is suspended, everything appears to be for real
no alternative perspectives are possible
the exaggerated reactions are justified by the seriousness with which they suddenly experience their own and others thoughts and feelings
the vivid and bizarre quality of subjective experience can be linked to physically compelling memories associated with post-traumatic-stress-disorder the pretend mode (or better its re-emergence) can be detected following traumatic incident in the sense of emptiness, meaninglessness of internal states
patients can discuss thoughts and feelings to any length without contextualizing these in any physical or social reality
the internal experience has no link to genuine experience, the intensification of attachment needs will be answered by a defensive turning away from a world of hostile and malevolent minds
to "play with reality" means in this context to pretend the traumatizing incident never happened, the patient may be threatened to encounter his own thoughts and feelings – at the extreme the patient dissociates
dissociation is now a component of the diagnostic criteria of BPD within this mode there is primacy of the physical, experience is only real and felt to be valid if the consequences are accompanied by physical expression clinical implications: dissociation
"concreteness of thought" Psychic equivalence, as a mode of experiencing the internal world, can cause great distress because the projection of fantasy to the outside world is felt to be real.
inner and outer reality are seen as linked, but seperate psychic reality is structured in two seperate modes: capacities associated with mentalizing:
affect regulation through affect representation and attentional control
re-emergence of the primary process and associated modes of experiencing internal reality
disorganisation of the self, Ego-splitting
the constant pressure for projective identification failure of these capacities results in: Attachment theory psychoanalytic attachment theory emphasizes the active role of the other in the development of the experience of identity. The other mirrors the child's constitutional state, and the child develops secondary representations on its own as self.
the theory accentuates the fact that mirroring can be both adequate and inadequate, resulting in adequate self representations or in alien self-states. adequate & inadequate mirroring: alien self BPD NPD congruent & unmarked incongruent & marked control of distress
control of attention Trauma in normal development mirroring provides the first layer through which the internal states are taken up in the total body image and first regulation is installed – (through a secondary representation of affect).
in the development of BPD the child doesn't receive a guaranteeing representation from the (m)other to process it's internal states.
this leaves the child alone with it's internal states teleological stance 80% of BPD patients have been abused during childhood
not everyone who is abused during childhood develops BPD, research on the reflective functioning abilities (mentalizing) of victims of childhood abuse were able to isolate a subgroup that met diagnostic criteria for BPD – it is precisely this group that scored low on reflective functioning
trauma in itself is not the direct cause of BPD
the trauma, leading to the development of BPD, occurs in an early child-other relation, wherein the (m)other fails in mirroring the childs internal states, so secondary processing isn't developed
the core of trauma in BPD has to do with a parental inability to imagine themselves in the child, this can arise without a clear parental pathology reality-testing / yes reality testing comes into being albeit in a thing like way, the ability to test social-reality is impaired, thoughts and reality regarding social interaction are synonymous
failed integration of pretend and equivalence mode results in "concretness of thought", the perceived intentions of the other are experienced monolithic – there can be no distance taking to what is perceived
this leads to hyperalertness (hypermentalization), the patient has an excessive awareness for detecting psychic states and intentions in the other, and reacts to them in a black-and-white manner
this translates into the need for the other, the other has to be physically present, only physically expressed intentions are experienced as real
splitting What is called splitting goes much further than dissociative reexperiencing of unrepresentable trauma:
it is not only used to deal with traumatic re-experiencing of trauma
dissociation is also used to deal with identity per se, disliked parts of personal history are dissociated as well
a coherence of personal history becomes impossible, the persistence of pre-mentalizing mode of thought gives rise to an almost immediate putting in action of what is thought
enactment, the playing with reality in reality, can take two dircetions: aggressive/sexual attacks or seduction... what seems as an easy going, unfrustrated attitude reveals at a closer look that a proper intimate relationship is very difficuilt, because intimacy is experienced as threatening.
in attachment related context / reality-testing is impaired / hyperalertness, hypermentalizing misatuned mirroring primary process somatic process occuring in the childs organs sources of the drive Drive, a measure of the demand made upon the mind for work affect regulative mirroring narcissism borderline Need secondary processing / Anxiety disorganized attchment complex representations of self and others, elaborated in pretend mode lead to enactment in mode of psychic equivalence, wherin every thought appears to be real
used to idealize or devalue others
these disruptive features of BPD create unbearable experiences within the other
the disorganized self structure is brought into being by the inhibition of mentalization at moments of intense emotion Re-externalisation or projective identification
misatuned mirroring leaves the child with no opportunity to develop a representation of its own experience through mirroring (the self) – the child internalizes the image of the caregiver as part of his self-rpresentation
an "alien self" (false self) is this discontinuity within the self
the childs attachment behaviour becomes focused with the re-externalisation of the "alien self" onto attachment figures
re-externalistion of the "alien self", the unstoppable tendency for projective identification, creates unacceptable experiences within the other Identification with the aggressor:
is the individual self-structure already disorganised, it is most desireable for traumatized patients to internalize hostile states of mind into the "alien self"
such patients may view themselves as permanently damaged, or rotten to the core – being tormented from within
is an abuser internalized it becomes a matter of life and death for the traumatized individual to re-externalize this splitt-off part of the self
this creates unbearable feelings of anger, helplessness, fear and resentment in the other, who will feel the urge to rescue the patient and as these attempts seem to fail act out the helplessness in expressions of anger
in this way externalization of unbearable internal states may often succeed by re-staging scenes of a traumatizing event in present reality
even practiced clinicians respond to them working with traumatized patients most often with feelings associated with mistreatment and overwhelming disorganisation (Conklin & Westen, 2005) neurotic-structure PTSD neurotic, psychotic- or perverse-structure the patient expects concrete proof of the the others commitment (therpist, spouse...), if not to say his/ her love.
the therapist doesn't actively give interpretations of the patients feelings and behaviours, he mirrors them
the patient initially the connection with the original relationship in between mother and child is clear
the child required a specific action from the (m)other to process its drive
the first (m)other failed present: relationship with first (m)other: psychological functioning continues to opperate in the equivalence mode the dual imaginary, little symbolic distance taking or reflective function is possible.
the secondary processing or mentalizing fails to develop.
the sense of reality as a symbolic system of rules, the symbolic order, comes into being, but in a thinglike way – meaning: a sense of social reality in attachment relations fails to develop – the psyche remains stuck in a dual mode
whatever is thought about the others intentions is expereienced as real and actual
summed up: there is no integration in between equivalence and pretend mode
this leads to hyperalertness, in daily life: the person has an excessive though slective awareness for detecting psychic states and intentions in the other and reacts to to them in a black-and-white manner
this translates into the need for the other's physical presence, albeit in combination with basic distrust: the other is needed but can't be trusted
dual-mode of functioning allows no distance taking: normal reflectivity is absent
beyond the black-and-white pattern of relations, the borderline patient feels an inner emptiness (i.e. the lack of a primary identification with the signifiers of an guranteeing other) and the patient is threatened by disorganization
the link to dissiciation in PTSD is clear
in borderline pathology the splitting goes much further than dissociation of unpresentable trauma, it is used to deal with identity per se
in addition externalization of the alien self, projective identification, were thoughts and reality regarding social interactions are the same , has another consequence: immediate putting into action of what is thought
classicaly this enactment can take two directions aggressive/sexual attack or seduction, each time in an unveiled manner
this may at first sight lead to the impression of an easy going, unfrustrated attitude, but a closer look reveals it is very difficuilt for the patient to have a proper intimate relationship, because it is experienced as threatening
the borderline patient has difficuilties to experience the other in his otherness, she or he can not internally imagine or remember what the other thinks and desires
because of projective identification, the other is completely colored by the drive arousal that must be warded off
intimate relations become extremely equivocal: an intense sepperation anxiety is combined with an accompanying need for physical presence, yet is it almost impossible to enter into intimate psychological relations: the other may not come to close and must be kept under control
this brings us close to the etiology of the borderline personality disorder: in a study concerning the reflective functioning of patients, who have been knowingly abused during childhood ,Fonagy & Target (1996) were able to isolate a subgroup that had very low reflective functioning, and it was precisely this group that met dignostic criteria for BPD.
the actual trauma in itself is not the direct cause of borderline disorder
BPD etiology lies in a structural trauma, occuring in an early child-other relation that doesn't permit secondary processing – the other failed in his/her guaranteeing functiong
the trauma in BPD is the failure of "parental mirroring" ASD 309.81 DSM-IV Criteria for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
A. The person has been exposed to a traumatic event in which both of the following have been present:
(1) the person experienced, witnessed, or was confronted with an event or events that involved actual or threatened death or serious injury, or a threat to the physical integrity of self or others (2) the person's response involved intense fear, helplessness, or horror. Note: In children, this may be expressed instead by disorganized or agitated behavior.
B. The traumatic event is persistently reexperienced in one (or more) of the following ways:
(1) recurrent and intrusive distressing recollections of the event, including images, thoughts, or perceptions. Note: In young children, repetitive play may occur in which themes or aspects of the trauma are expressed.
(2) recurrent distressing dreams of the event. Note: In children, there may be frightening dreams without recognizable content.
(3) acting or feeling as if the traumatic event were recurring (includes a sense of reliving the experience, illusions, hallucinations, and dissociative flashback episodes, including those that occur upon awakening or when intoxicated). Note: In young children, trauma-specific reenactment may occur.
(4) intense psychological distress at exposure to internal or external cues that symbolize or resemble an aspect of the traumatic event.
(5) physiological reactivity on exposure to internal or external cues that symbolize or resemble an aspect of the traumatic event.
C. Persistent avoidance of stimuli associated with the trauma and numbing of general responsiveness (not present before the trauma), as indicated by three (or more) of the following:
(1) efforts to avoid thoughts, feelings, or conversations associated with the trauma
(2) efforts to avoid activities, places, or people that arouse recollections of the trauma
(3) inability to recall an important aspect of the trauma
(4) markedly diminished interest or participation in significant activities
(5) feeling of detachment or estrangement from others
(6) restricted range of affect (e.g., unable to have loving feelings)
(7) sense of a foreshortened future (e.g., does not expect to have a career, marriage, children, or a normal life span)
D. Persistent symptoms of increased arousal (not present before the trauma), as indicated by two (or more) of the following:
(1) difficulty falling or staying asleep
(2) irritability or outbursts of anger
(3) difficulty concentrating
(5) exaggerated startle response
E. Duration of the disturbance (symptoms in Criteria B, C, and D) is more than one month.
F. The disturbance causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.
Acute: if duration of symptoms is less than 3 months
Chronic: if duration of symptoms is 3 months or more
With Delayed Onset: if onset of symptoms is at least 6 months after the stressor Criterion A / etiology
(A1) gives an idication of the complexity: It is not just a questione of having experienced the trauma oneself, one may have been witness to or–even more vagueley–been confronted with it
(A2) the patients own reaction is decisive: this is the traumatic, automatic anxiety that is very close to panic attacks. At its heart is the fact that the victim was forced into the passive position. A1:
This is the idea of indirect trauma that helps to understand why children of concentration camp victims suffer more from trauma, than their parents. This is the step toward imagined trauma and bring us to the discussuion about trauma's real or imagined nature. Indirect effects of trauma diminish the importance of the factual nature of trauma, and shifts the focus onto the subject itself, in its relation toward the other. One may take over the other's trauma through incorporation or identification, which is literally an "imagining" an "in-imaging". Such an imagined trauma my have effects just as important as an actual experienced trauma. The emphasis is on threat of death or injury, not necessarily on the actual injury.
The victim was forced into the early infantile position of helplessness wher only the other can provide the specific actions and signifiers that makes coping possible. Criterion B, intrusive re-experiencing:
here we find the repetition compulsion, and intrusive reexperiencing that has nothing to do with memory – the characteristic of trauma is precisely that it can not be remembered through signs and signifiers B:
The inscription took place on the body in a different memory system than of declarative memory. Consequently, there is no return of the repressed, nor is there any psychopathological symptom construction and its resultant repetition. Instead, we find a repetition compulsion that the subject is unable to control; it is a reexperiencing followed by a defense against it, often with somatization phenomena as a result. The patient tries to grasp what was never insribed in the declarative memory. The so-called memories are always monolithic, unprocessable, and intrusive, always imposing themselves under the form of the same verbal fragments, flashbacks, bodily sensations.
The same goes for traumatic dreams as well, which for Freud were the sole exception to what he considered the central function of the dream – to maintain sleep through wish fulfillment. Their effect is precisely the opposite, because the dreamer is woken up by what Lacan calls a missed encounter with the Real. The missed aspect lies in the impossibilty of turning the traumatic Real into interpretable signifiers, and this is why one wakes up precisely at the moment "it" is going to happen.
Such traumatic dreams often engage a vicious cycle. A secondary signal anxiety is developed against sleeping, precisely because of the nightmares, resulting in a reversal of the dy and night rhythm that in turn causes further disturbances in somatic and social functioning, with serious somatization effects.
"Symbolization of the traumatic event" must be interpreted and revised. It has nothing to do with symbolization at all, but with automatic evocation of the trauma through triggers, provoking an uncontrollable reexperiencing. Once, when mentalization is fully established, symbolization proper becomes possible, then psychic-associative processing of the trauma can take place, together with its (literal) re-covery. Criterion C & D:
Under Criterion (C3) we find the core problem: the traumatic experience has not been inscribed in an ordinary psychological way and therefore cannot be associatively processed.
Under C1 and C2 we find secondaryy avoidance behaviors, and the entire criterion D could be included in here as well.
D (3 to 5) need explanation because it seemingly contains a paradox: difficulty to concentrate versus hypervigilance.
PTSD patients do not pay normal attention to the surroundings, thus giving the impression they are not paying attention at all. Nevertheless they are hyperconcentrated, albeit with respect to the avoidance of reexperiencing the trauma and the desire to control the other, or, more broadly, the surrounding environment.
When such hypervigilance lasts too long, somatization phenomena occur from exhaustion. Often leading to abuse of medication, alternating between sleeping pills and pep pills, thus creating further problems (addiction).
Aggressive reactions D2 also belong in this category, and many additionally turn into their opposite, that is, a total lack of reaction.
Immediately following from this, one can isolate a final group of characteristics (C 4 to 7), namely, the PTSD patient's characteristic relationship with the other. This finds insufficient elaboration in the DSM description. The heart of the matter is that trust in the other is missing because she or he originally failed to respond, or didn't respond sufficiently at the moment of the structural trauma. In the place of trust we find distancing from or fundamental distrus of the other.
Sex PTSD vs. neurotic Every subject begins with a need, an unpleasurable experience that is experienced traumatic (the toddler just wasn't able to represent it), the answer is sought in the other. In case of a neurotic structure, i.e. a hysterical structure, there is a strong chance that the hysterical subject will later provoke sexual behavior in the other, resulting in an accidental trauma. This is the case in a number of chronic PTSD cases, it is often far from clear who it was that provoked the sexual behavior, the patient or the other. The difference between hysterical and post-traumatic sexual acting out must be sought in a different field. In case of hysteria, the sexual acting-out is only narrowly aimed at sexual-genital interaction; the subject wants unconditional love, not sex. The traumatic experience sets in, the moment the hysterical subject sees itself reduced to the mere object of the other's pleasure – not the sublime object of the other's unconditional love. In cases of post-traumatic sexual acting-out, the aim is always an accounting, a setting straight of the balances: the traumatized subject wants to gain power over the other and presents the other with the unpaid bill. In both cases, in the hysterical and the post-traumatic, it is not a questione of pleasure for the subject that each will experience completely differenly. The hysterical will kep up appearances by focusing on the other's pleasure, and complain about it afterwards. The post-traumatic subject holds itself aloof and operates in an instrumental way, seemingly devoid of feelings.
As a result, the conjuncture of a hysterical basic structure and a later accidental trauma is far from uncommon and one can see the typical double etiology, i.e. in BPD, wherein acting out is aggressive/sexual or seductive. dissociative Identity and multiple personality traits, may be induced by therapy The neurotic (i.e. hysteric) identity is such that there are a number of identificatory layers in the subject, each going back to an older, already abandoned relation toward a particular other. In treatment, such layers may not only be reactivated, but concretized as well. In cases of a neurotic structure and a later trauma a therapist is likely to make some suggestiones about dissociation. Because the hysterical subject is prone to drink in the signifiers coming from the other, the abandoned layers of identification may become reactivated again. As the hysterical subjects ever present awareness of alienation, "this is not really me", will become confirmed during treatment – this is not really you, it's just your pattern – almost every relation of the subject will become a pattern of its alienation. Therefor the subject is prone to dissociate or reactivate these layers of identity again. This is quite different from PTSD, in PTSD dissociative phenomena will rarely acquire such a total form, they are limited to phenomena such as reexperiencing of the dissociated "bad self" (because abused alien self) and a good part of personality. While a therapeutic suggestione on the automatism of dissociation phenomena, may lead the hysteric patient to produce such phenomena. The link to dissociative identity disorder DID (former multiple personality disorder) is clear. In BPD the neurotic patient has learned to use dissociation to deal with the problem of identity. splitting attachment related trauma nonrelational traumatic events attachment based dissociation:
splitting divides the experiental world and the people in it into good and bad – the emotionally and psychologically overwhelming part of an event or a person is splitt-off
in attachment related traumatization an abused child needs its abuser even more than a child with a good-enough caretaker
splitting is used to dissociate rageful feelings, to idealize passivity or helplessness – juts to get rid of an enormous pre-oedipal aggression as an outcome of traumatic attachment
splitting involves an re-enactment of the dominant-submissive relational patterns
the sense of self and affect, the view of the self, view of and anticipation of the other, as well as contextual features of the event – all this will be contained in non formulated procedural and somatosensory enactments rather than in declarative memory
in this sense identification with the aggressor may rely on procedural imitations, wherein all dissociated self-states and self-other-relations are enacted
during post-traumatic passive-active reversal the traumatized person enacts its own infantile rage in the role of the abuser
these enactments will be framed in abusive/rageful and helpless/victim roles, dominant-submissive relationships (characteristic of BPD)
splits in the subject and identity formation:
identity formation takes place by way of a dual mirroring with the other and later through a triangular distancing of this other
in this way different identifications come into being and the Ego is developed, at the same time the other's identity is internally represented, along with the relationship toward this other
in both odentities, the good and bad parts are integrated
this leads to the so-called dynamic unconscious – the pleasurable and the unpleasurable parts operate in an associative network, and the splitting of the subject is never complete.
splitting in cases of attachment related traumatization:
in cases of traumatized attachment the pleasurable "good" part and unpleasurable "bad" part of the other are not associatively linked – the other is split
this split is mirrored in the subject's identity in such a way that it installs a split between the "bad" (because abused) part and the "good" (because "normal") parts of identity.
such a defense comes into being during the abuse: the child "switches itself off" and is psychologically "gone"; the child itself is not being abused, only the bad part of the child is being abused and then only by the bad part of the caregiver
therefor after the abuse, a return to the preceding situation that was cut off takes place, allowing the normal relation between subject and the Other to function once more
the clear advantage of dissociation is – the child needs the other, the relation can not be given up
identification with the aggressor:
borderline personality organisation actual neurosis Need / somatic arousal drive arousal is experienced as coming from the outside Infant representations coming from the Other the representations received, will indicate:
what he or she feels and how to handle it
but also who he or she is receiving turn towards the Other representations what I feel & who I am drive regulation & identity development drive regulation /
identity formation representational content isn't everything / through mirroring is also a subject structure developed subject-structure in classical freudian beliefe Ideal-Ego Ego Superego Ego-Ideal stuck on the actual neurotic level implies 1. the patient has no proper tool to process somatic arousal
2. the development of subjectivity itself is hampered Ego Super-Ego aims at creating a love object for another agency, the Superego Id Ideal Ego first Other / (M)other somatic arousal
autoerotic drives somatic arousal and autoerotic dirves are present from birth (before the Ego)
the drive is defined as a measure of the demand made upon the mind for work
as there is no Ego, no mind to process the drive, the child needs the other (attaches the drive to the first other) to process the drive
at this level all narcisstic (sexual-) drives are concerned with self-preservation
the other, basicly the mother becomes the first love object "Mother contains my image, as I can see myself being a whole through her image." "I hold mother's image of me, because it integrates my inner chaos."" "Thou art that!" "Who am I..?" mother need (Id) need desire of the (m)Other specular image A symbol for totality, that does not represent
the total physical body of the infant (which
will be represented by the specular image)
but (A) represents the total body of the Other
as a social-linguistic body that precedes the
capacity to discriminate between small or big,
total or partial, good or bad parts of the body = S (Id) S Other I captured by the mothers desire S–á S (Id) a A (Id) need S–á á desire of the (m)Other the infant is the phantsy object of the mother the infant becomes only a barred subject after the imaginary relation with the mother is crossed (Id) need á (m)other breast (bottle) Subject first other partial object á the breast, or in some cases the bottle, is the first cause of desire for the infant. S breast (bottle) á first other partial object á Subject (m)other ... the child relates to the breast just like it relates to a part of his own body: although the breast is a part of the mother it represents the childs unity with the whole & almighty mother. á ... the object small à, the cause of the childs desire is at first not imagined as seperable from the childs body, only later when the child leaves the imaginary unity with the almighty mother, it will be able to experience the breats as seperate. breast S ... to seperate from the breast – and the imaginary almighty mother as part of his body – the child has to wean: in weaning the lost object á will present a void in the child. S á void ... through presence and absence of the mother's breast the objet á – the cause of desire – has now become part of the child. S á void cause of desire ...as a void the missing object can never be attained as a concrete object: any object of desire or of sexual drive will never be as fulfilling as the imaginary unity with the almighty mother breast. void cause of desire á for the mother the child itself is the cause of her desire: the child is her object – filling her void – and its bodily ego is prior birth a part of her... void S mother the child as a partial object of the mother A ... after birth a part of the mother's body (breast as an external object or other) will represent the total body of the mother for the child S mother the mother's breast as an partial (intermediate) object in between mother and child other á ... the mother exists for the child in two different modes: the good and present breast and the bad breast which is absent. breast sexual difference: WHO AM I ? S is a signifier for the phallus, the primal father
S also represents the pre-subject, the child as the imaginary phallus of the mother, or her identification with the her own father this idea is quite consistent with the view of the role of the imaginary phallus in transforming maternal into paternal omnipotence within oedipal structure:
in this transformation, the place of the primal father goes from the imaginary mother to the imaginary father, and from psychotic grandiosity, to borderline and neurotic grandiosity. the asymmetry in sexual difference is explained in terms of each sex looking for an unconscious narcisstic object in each other. Asymmetry then refers to the ways in which men and women refer to different floors in the registers of the Imaginary, the Symbolic and the Real;
There is the idea of an imaginary phallus which the mother lacks and the father appears to have. This is also the idea of the unbarred phallus as the agent of the law.
Bothe sexes are looking for different objects in each other. A woman is the lost object (object á) for a man, in the same way that a man is a phallus for a woman.
in masculinity, the barred Subject $ represents the universal affirmative formula by which all men are castrated
in feminity the barred feminin represents the particular or singular negative formula by which not-all of a woman is castrated
within the Real, the á represents the part missing within the symbolic.
women are in a relation to the imaginary presence of the phallus in men and at the same time in relation to the lack of a signifier for the phallus at the level of the Real - this is why any given man in relationship to a woman may be occupying different positions within the floors of masculinity
It is only by appeal to the primal imaginary father that men can appear to have the phallus within the Imaginary. But by virtue of this very appeal, the son falls to the position of a castrated signified for the master signifier of the Other (imaginary father)
this vanishing hold on the imaginary phallus will facilitate the installation of the function of metaphor and metonymic representation/signification with the sole purpose of generating a set of symbolic terms in infinite combination and permutation.
the imagnary and fleeing master signifier and the fact that ultimately the signifier is a signifier of a lack of the symbolic to represent the Real (of sex)
it is being rather than existence that can in fact be something outside the Symbolic and within the Imaginary and the Real. Within the Imaginary, being is given by the imaginary function of phantasy of negating the lack brought on by anguage.
Within the Symbolic, being is given by nonbeing, and within the Real being is given by what one could call emptiness (cosmic narcissism)
In the first case, women can be and have the imaginary phallus in phantasy: In the Imaginary to "be somebody" signifies a phallic presence.For women being the phallus in the Imaginary requires a form of masculine simulacrum:
a simulacrum is imaginary, i.e. explained by bisexuality
Simulacrum and Masquerade define two different versions of feminity:
Simulacrum inhabits the Imaginary dimension of masculinity but as a feminine hetrosexual female represented by the "femme fatale" of the like of Sharon Stone and Demi Moore in Basic Instinct and Disclosure. Both versions of the "femme fatale" rival men in their portrayal of a phallic parade and of an unbarred frm of phallic enjoyment (jouissance)
The case of symbolic masquerade is different: Here the feminine acquirs her powers through the phallic function of castration rather than through phallic jouissance. In this example, the archetype is not the femme fatale but the Lady and the refined princess. The Lady was sometimes compared to the primal father (Zizek 1995) before he was killed, he was unbarred. Instead, the Lady lives a life of sacrifice, however false or deceptive her masquerade may be, she seduces only to produce lack/ castration/frustration rather than her own enjoyment or phallic jouissance.
Simulacrum castrates through phallic jouissance whereas the Lady gives being to a man through her own non-being. Some authors refer to the Lady and her masquerade as the Muse.
In some feminist reading of the Muse this feminine character type is simply the other side of simulacrum or Hag. But the authors (Young-Eisendrath 2000) consider imaginary masculinity, as the masculinity of the primal father and the master, the only version of masculinity. While, I think, the majority of men occupy the position of symbolic masculinity. Symbolical castration is not identical to social oppression and is in fact the very condition of desire. She posits an objectified woman as Object for a masculine Subject defined as an imaginary autonomous and self-determining master. It is the same imagined mastery or autonomy that she desires for women falsely assuming that the male white man has it. The facade of mastery or machismo is the phallic parade of the Don Juan or masculine hysteric. Here she misses the Subject as the position of the divided subject, a position of subjective subjection for which the phallic parade is only a defence. In fact, the obsessive masculine type, or the obsessive gentleman, when idealising his Lady, elevates her to the position of unbarred non-castrated primal father. Here the beloved object is the master rather than the slave. The subject attempts to find his being through the object.
However, the object – when it is something other than a masculine phantasy given different uses by both sexes – is the Other, and the desire of a lacking subject: desire is the desire of the Other, desire is a lack, and both the subject and the object end up meeting at the place of dsire as a lack or emptiness. The subject is never a natural person with his or her own autonomous desires.
Within the Real, however, feminity is charcetrised by neither being nor non-being but rather by what, following Mahayan Buddhism, I call emptiness: Emptiness is not a void or nothingness as an absence of an object, but a presence beyond representation. This is the Real of an other jouissance rather than the Real of the jouissance of the Other (Real/Symbolic rather than Real/Imaginary)
Emptiness as a feminine character type or as a form of feminine jouissance comes in two versions, one negative, one positive, in line with two different types of emptiness or nothingness:
The anorexic woman represents the presence of emptiness but as an object, or the presence of an absence as an object. The anorexic wants to be the vanishing, absent object that is in the process of disappearing and not existing: This is Imaginary or dual nothingness as an object.
If the anorexic subject lets go of the partial object and pays the ticket of entrance unto the Symbolic(/Real), then the subject can function within emptiness of interdependence: The symbolic phallus (letting go of eating nothingness) and the lack in the Other symbolise the price paid for subjectivity and for the entrance into the symbolic order. Having paid the price of castration, the subject gains the autonomy of the Symbolic. Within sexuality this is the positive character of emptiness and for the feminine experience of sexual jouissance.
Men do not have the imaginary phallus in the Symbolic, but they have a symbolic phallus as an absence: In the Real, the signifier of a lack, a priciple of renunciation (sacrifice & release) that represents masculinity.
In opposition, the feminine is going through a triple negation, women do not even have the signifier of a lack and have a lack of a signifier instead. This is what one could call: the woman is "not-without-not-having" in the Symbolic. She is being freed from the signifier of a lack and a fixed existence in language but from an other jouissance that is not-all within the Symbolic. Not being limited by the signifier of a lack, a woman is granted more poetic license in the use of the signifier. This doesn't have to make her a professional poet. But the signified (meaning) of the feminine position of "not having the imaginary phallus" is found within the Symbolic as the presence of metaphor.
While the masculine position of having the imaginary phallus is the experience of being cancelled by the Symbolic, this is nothing else than the negative function of the metaphor: the metaphor cancels and kills that which it presents. If one says a woman is a pearl, not only is a woman cancelled by a pearl but the pearl itself is cancelled by being signified as a woman. What is revealed by the metaphoric association between pearl and woman is a pure Real contained within negativity of the Symbolic. By saying something (the woman is apearl), not saying something (the woman is cancelled by being signified as a perl), and not not saying something (that also the pearl is cancelled by being signified as a woman), a metaphor is like a hand that erases itself at the same time it writes. This is what we call feminine writing, which is associated with poetry. The positive function of metaphor and the poetic potential of language are still particular configurations of language in the Symbolic, but here the Symbolic is brought in a relationship to the Imaginary and the Real. In fact, poetry represents symbolic uses of the Imaginary and the Real and not instances where the latter seem to operate independently or without a masculine or phallic Symbolic order. The poetic use of language simply shows the negativity within the Symbolic.
Women enter language representing a lack in the imaginary axis: mother desires something which the girl doesn't have, instead, the boy has it, only to find out that he can't make no use of it to satisfy mother's desire. The girl discovers a lack of a signifier and the boy the signifier of a lack, as they enter the Symbolic of language the girl is less limited by signifier, therefor she is entering language through the positive rather than the negative function of metaphor. This explains the common reference to women's higher verbal ability in latency.
If speech for both sexes is masculine/phallic and a feminine signifier does not exist, then we find the feminine in the Other jouissance of the mystic. This is the voice of the Real as the voice of no-voice, or the speech of silence exemplified by the mystics of all ages:
When the Real of emptiness appears within the Imaginary and wholeness is no longer a hole and becomes identified with the presence of an imaginary object, then the lack of lack within the Real becomes the anxiety-producing phallic feminine. In this case what is lacking is emptiness itself. The feminine side of the Real has been joined to the masculine side of the Imaginary. For women, being a subject that is not totally anchored in the phallic function, there is an aspiration from the not-all to the ideal father. There is an aspiration that women experience toward the primal father. Still, the primal father cannot give a woman a signifier for feminity, only an imaginary signifier for masculinity. In this instance the mother or the woman is put in the place of the primal father. The anxiety evoked by this condition can be understood as a function of the helplessness experienced vis-a-vis an omnipotent maternal figure as well as the experience of engulfment resulting from a lack of necessary space and seperation from a mother whod oes need nothing else from someone than the child. In this case the feminine has joined the masculine side of the imaginary, the child is her imaginary phallus.
Women can also exist on the feminine side of the Real, in the limitless emptiness of a missing signifier, and cross to the masculine side of the signifier of a lack (instead of staying on the feminine side with a lack of a signifier). This character of feminity can also be argued in words as something beyond the signifier and therefor meaning. In this case words are used as symbols but without having a relationship to an imaginary place within language. If a woman disavowals the lack of a signifier in the Real, the lack of a signifier has no basis in the Real, meaning, there can be no feminine Real beyond language, leading to an other jouissance. Then the masculine signifier that covers up the lack of a signifier for the woman in language turns into pure symbolic speculation, i.e., speaking many words without actually saying anything. The listener will experience an absence of meaning in the Imaginary, the dual relationship between speaker and receiver. If words have no basis in the Real, they may turn into an attempt to persuade by force rather than by eloquence of words grounded in the Real. The more you talk, the less you say. The signifier appears to be haunted by the imaginary absence of the phallus/meaning. The full word and the full poetic potency and pregnency of the Symbolic are only revealed when the holes in the Imaginary and the Symbolic are left unplugged and without a fixed signifier. The disavowal of "the lack of the feminine other" in the Imaginary cannot be closed by language.
On the other side there is also an anxiety associated not with the loss of an imaginary phallus, but with the fear of loosing the hole or the vagina as the non-phallus. This is an anxiety about the absence of feminity or the presence of the phallic feminine as the lack of lack. This anxiety is the reverse of the imaginary castration anxiety. This idea of the loss of the loss of the phallus can be generated by the underlying conviction of a fixed signified for the feminine, representing the biological superiority, of the imaginary superiority of the feminine over the phallus. Such a rite could be labelled a phallic parade, with the vulve representing one more version of the imaginary phallus and the master's discourse.