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John Zaixin Zhang

 
 
 

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Tyson on Psychoanalysis  

2009-02-27 18:08:01|  分类: +短篇小说第二课 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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Tyson, Lois. Critical Theory Today: A User-Friendly Guide. New York: Garland, 1999.

The Unconscious

15

       “The unconscious is the storehouse of those painful experiences and emotions, those wounds, fears, guilty desires, and unresolved conflicts we do not want to know about because we fell we will be overwhelmed by them. The unconscious comes into being when we are very young through the repression, the expunging from consciousness, of these unhappy psychological events. However, repression doesn’t eliminate our painful experiences and emotions. Rather, it gives them force by making them the organizers of our current experience: we unconsciously behave in ways that will allow us to ‘play out,’ without admitting it to ourselves, our conflicted feelings about the painful experiences and emotions we repress. Thus, for psychoanalysis, the unconscious isn’t a passive reservoir of neutral data, though the word is sometimes used this way in other disciplines and in common parlance, but a dynamic entity that engages us at the deepest level of our being.”

       “Until we find a way to know and acknowledge to ourselves the true cause(s) of our repressed wounds, fears, guilty desires, and unresolved conflicts, we hang onto them in disguised, distorted, and self-defeating ways. For example, if I don’t realize that I still long for the love I never received from my long-dead, alcoholic father, I am very liable to select an alcoholic, aloof mate so that I can re-enact my relationship with my father and, ‘this time,’ make him love me. In fact, even when I do realize that I have this kind of core issue with my father, it is difficult to recognize when I am ‘acting it out’ with another person. Indeed, I probably won’t see the profound similarity between my father and my beloved: I’ll focus, instead, on superficial differences (my father has dark hair and my beloved is a blond). In other words, I will experience my longing for my neglectful father as longing for my current heart-throb. I will feel that I am in love with my current sweetheart, perhaps even desperately in love, and I will believe that what I really want is for my sweetheart to love me back.”

15-6

       “I will not necessarily realize that what I really want in wanting this man is something I never received from my father. The evidence will lie in the similarities between his treatment of me and my father’s treatment of me and in the fact that, should I succeed in gaining the kind of attention I want from my current ‘crush,’ either it will not be enough (he will never be able to convince me that he really loves me; I will think that my insecurity is proof of his indifference), or if he does convince me that he really [16] loves me, I will lose interest in him because the attentive lover does not fulfill my need to re-experience the abandonment I suffered at the hands of my father. The point is that I want something I don’t know I want and can’t have: the love of my neglectful father. In fact, even if my father were still alive and had the kind of psychological rebirth that permitted him to give me his love, I would still have to heal the psychological wounds he inflicted over the course of my childhood—my feelings of inadequacy and abandonment, for example—before I could benefit from his love.”

16

       “… The oedipal conflict (competition with the parent of the same gender for the attention and affection of the parent of the opposite gender), and all the commonplace ideas of old-style Freudian theory (for example, sibling rivalry, penis envy, castration anxiety) are merely descriptions of the dominant ways in which family conflicts can be lived…. For example, in some families, sibling rivalry (competition with siblings for the attention and affection of parents) can occur, in an important sense, between a parent and child. If I feel jealous of my mate’s affection for our child, what may be going on is a re-enactment of my unresolved childhood rivalry with a sibling I believed was more loved by my parents than I. That is, seeing my mate’s affection for our child reawakens some or all of the hurt I felt when I saw my parents’ affection for the sibling I believed they preferred. And so I now find myself competing with my child for the attention of my mate.”

16-7

       “It is important to note that oedipal attachments, sibling rivalry, and the like are considered developmental stages. In other words, we all go through these experiences, and they are a natural and healthy part of maturing and establishing our own identities. It is when we fail to outgrow these conflicts that we have trouble. Here’s an example common to many women. If I remain in competition with my mother for my father’s love (a completion that can go on in my unconscious long after one or both parents are dead), I will probably be most attracted to men who already have girlfriends or wives because their attachment to another woman will allow me to replay my competition with my mother and, ‘this time,’ win. Of course, I might not win the man this time, and even if I do, once I’ve [17] won him, I’ll lose interest in him. Although I probably don’t realize it consciously, his desirability lies in his attachment to someone else. Once he’s mine, he’s not so exciting anymore. On the other hand, if as a child I felt that I won my father’s affection from my mother (which he may have given me as a way of punishing or avoiding my mother), then I may be attracted to men who already have girlfriends or wives (and who don’t seem likely to leave them) because I feel I need to be punished for ‘stealing’ Dad from my mother. Of course, another way to punish myself for stealing Dad from my mother (or for wanting to steal him or, if he sexually molested me, for feeling that it was somehow my fault) is to be unable to respond sexually to my mate.”

17

       “A common way in which me replay unresolved oedipal attachments involves what is often called the ‘good-girl/bad-girl’ attitude toward women. If I remain in competition (usually unconscious) with my father for my mother’s love, I am very liable to deal with my guilt by categorizing women as either ‘like Mom’ (‘good girls’) or ‘not like Mom’ (‘bad girls’) and then by being able to enjoy sex only with women who are ‘not like Mom.’ In other words, because I unconsciously associate sexual desire with desire for my mother, sexual desire makes me feel guilty and dirty, and for this reason I can enjoy it only with ‘bad girls,’ who are themselves guilty and dirty and whom I don’t associate with Mom. This view often creates a seduce-and-abandon pattern of behavior toward women. When I seduce a ‘bad girl,’ I must abandon her (sooner or later) because I cannot allow myself to be permanently attached to someone so unworthy of marriage, that is, unworthy of being classified with my mother. When I seduce a ‘good girl,’ two things happen: (1) she becomes a ‘bad girl’ and , like other ‘bad girls,’ unworthy of my permanent commitment, and (2) I feel so guilty for ‘soiling’ her (which is like ‘soiling’ Mom) that I must abandon her to avoid my guilt. The point is that, for both women and men, only by recognizing the psychological motivations for our destructive behavior can we hope to begin to change that behavior.”

17-8

The Defenses

       “Our unconscious desire not to recognize or change our destructive behavior—because we have formed our identity around it and because we are afraid of what we will find if we examine it too closely—is served by our defenses. Defenses are the processes by which the contents of our unconscious are kept in the unconscious. In other words, they are the pro-[18]cesses by which we keep the repressed repressed in order to avoid knowledge what we feel we can’t handle knowing. Defenses include selective memory (modifying our memories so that we don’t feel overwhelmed by them or forgetting painful events entirely), denial (believing that they problem doesn’t exist or the unpleasant incident never happened), avoidance (staying away from people or situations that are liable to make us anxious by stirring up some unconscious—i.e., repressed—experience or emotion), displacement (‘taking it out’ on someone or something less threatening than the person who caused our fear, hurt, frustration, or anger), and projection (ascribing our fear, problem, or guilty desire to someone else, and condemning them for it, in order to deny that we have it ourselves).”

       “Perhaps one of the most complex defenses is regression, the temporary return to a former psychological state, which is not just imagined but relived. Regression can involve a return either to a painful or a pleasant experience. It is a defense because it carries our thoughts away from some present difficulty (as when Death of a Salesman’s Willy Loman flashes back to his past in order to avoid the unpleasant realities of his resent life). However, it differs from other defenses in that it carries with it the opportunity for active reversal, the acknowledgment and working through of repressed experiences and emotions, because we can alter the effects of a wound only when we re-live the wounding experience. This is why regression is such a useful therapeutic tool.”

       “Many psychological experiences can function as defenses, even when not formally defined as such. For example, fear of intimacy—fear of emotional involvement with another human being—is often an effective defense against learning about our own psychological wounds because it keeps us at an emotional distance in relationships most likely to bring those wounds to the surface: relationships with lovers, spouses, offspring and best friends. By not permitting ourselves to get too close to significant others, we ‘protect’ ourselves from the painful past experiences that intimate relationships inevitably dredge up. Having more than one romantic or sexual partner at a time, breaking off romances when they start to evolve past the infatuation stage, and keeping oneself too busy to spend much time with family and friends are just a few of the many ways we can maintain an emotional distance from loved ones without admitting to ourselves what we are doing.”

 

Dreams and Dream Symbols

19-20

       “When we sleep, it is believed that our defenses do not operate in the same manner they do when we are awake. During sleep, the unconscious is free to express itself, and it does so in our dreams. However, even in our [20] dreams there is some censorship, some protection against frightening insights into our repressed experiences and emotions, and that protection takes the form of dream distortion. The ‘message’ our unconscious expresses in our dreams, which is the dream’s underlying meaning, or latent content, is altered, so that we don’t readily recognize it, through processes called displacement and condensation. Dream displacement occurs whenever we use a ‘safe’ person, event, or object as a ‘stand-in’ to represent a more threatening person, event, or object. For example, I may dream that an elementary-school teacher is sexually molesting me in order to express (and at the same time avoid) my unconscious knowledge that one of my parents sexually molested me. Condensation occurs during a dram whenever we use a single dream image or event to represent more than one unconscious wound or conflict. For example, my dream that I’m battling a ferocious bear might represent psychological ‘battles’ or conflicts both at home and at work. Or, to expand upon the above example, my dream that I am being sexually molested by an elementary-school teacher might represent my unconscious feeling that my self-esteem is under attack by any number of family members, friends, and colleagues. (A single dream even may thus be a product of both displacement and condensation.)”

21

       “Male imagery, or phallic symbols, can include towers, rockets, guns, arrows, swords, and the like. In short, if it stands upright or goes off, it might be functioning as a phallic symbol. For example, if I dream that I am holding my friend at gun point, I might be expressing unconscious sexual aggression toward that friend or toward someone else for whom that friend is a safe stand-in (such as my friend’s mate or my own).”

22

       “Female imagery can include caves, rooms, walled-in gardens (like the ones we see in paintings representing the Virgin Mary), cups, or enclosures and containers of any kind. If the image can be a stand-in for the womb, then it might be functioning as female imagery. Thus, if I dream I am trapped or lost in a small, dark room, I might be expressing an unconscious fear of my mother’s control over me or an unconscious fear that I have never completely matured as a human being. Perhaps I’m expressing both, for these two problems are certainly related. Female imagery can also include milk, fruit, and other kinds of food as well as the containers in which food is delivered, such as bottles or cups (yes, there is an overlap here with womb imagery)—in other words, anything that can be stand-in for the breast, which is itself a stand-in for emotional nurturing. So if I dream that I am trying to feed a litter of hungry kittens from a small and rapidly diminishing bottle of milk (a dream that either gender can have), I might be expressing an unconscious feeling that too much is being asked of me by my children or by my spouse or by my employer—or by all of them—or that I am putting too much pressure on myself to take care of others. Analogously, if I dream I am hungry or looking for food, I might be expressing an unconscious need for emotional nurturing.”

23

       “Regardless of how frightening or disturbing our dreams are, they are relatively safe outlets of unconscious wounds, fears, guilty desires, and unresolved conflicts because, as we have seen, they come to us in disguised form, and we will interpret them only to whatever extent we are ready to do so. In addition, if a dream becomes too threatening, we will wake up, as we most often do during nightmares. However, if my nightmares begin to occur while I’m awake—that is, if the breakdown of my defenses is more than temporary, if my anxiety cannot be abated, if the truth hidden by repression comes out before my conscious self in a manner I can neither disguise nor handle—then I am in crisis, or trauma.”

 

The Meaning of Sexuality

27

       “Society’s rules and definitions concerning sexuality form a large part of our superego, or the social values and taboos that we internalize (consciously or unconsciously) and experience as our sense of right and wrong….”

27-8

       “The superego is in direct opposition to the id, the psychological reservoir of our instincts and our libido, or sexual energy. The id is devoted solely to the gratification of prohibited desires of all kinds—desire for power, for sex, for amusement, for food—without an eye to consequences. In other words, the id consists largely of those desires regulated or forbidden by social convention. Thus, the superego—or cultural taboos—determines which desires the id will contain. The ego, or the con-[28]scious self that experiences the external world through the senses, plays referee between id and superego, and all three are defined by their relationship: none acts independently of the others; a change in one always involves changes in the other two. In this way, the ego is, to a large degree, the product of conflicts between what society says we can’t have and what we (therefore) want. For this reason, the relationship among ego, id, and superego tells us as much about our culture as it does about ourselves.”

28

       “Many women, whether they consider themselves feminists or not, have a difficult time believing that little girls, upon realizing that little boys have penises, suffer from penis envy, or the desire to have a penis, or that little boys, upon realizing that little girls don’t have penises, suffer from castration anxiety, or the fear that they will lose their penises. The explanation for these two phenomena becomes clear, however, when we realize the cultural context within which Freud observed them: Victorian society’s rigid definition of gender roles, used to oppress females of all ages and to elevate males to position of dominance in all spheres of human activity. Is it any wonder that a little girl will want (at least unconsciously) to be a little boy when she realizes that little boys have rights and privileges she isn’t supposed to even desire? In other words, when you see ‘penis envy’ read ‘power envy.’ It’s power and all that seems to go with it—self-esteem, fun, freedom, safety from physical violation by the opposite gender—that little girls envy. And what little boy, upon realizing his social superiority to, and power over, little girls, isn’t going to have some anxiety about losing it? ‘You’re a girl, you sissy!’ has the power to wound little boys (and big boys!) because it threatens them with just such a loss of power. Castration anxiety is thus best understood as fear of demotion to the powerless position occupied by females.”

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