Yesterday I was worried that I was heading in the wrong direction with the course material. I have questioned the idea that Freud’s castration complex is a universal and unavoidable truth about male development, (I’m aware I’m not original in this) even through I’m certain that many males are enormously concerned or indeed traumatised by any damage that may have been done, or will be done to their genitals for the sake of tradition (And women too but in different ways and not usually in our own culture). And try as I do, I just don’t see castration anxiety in the images of small men and large women (as prompted to in one of the projects). Even though my youngest son has verbalised concern for any missing penis he imagines I may have once had -and which during my earliest times in the womb I almost did have, which makes me think Freud was on to something and cannot be dismissed entirely. I do however see a yearning for a literal ‘maternal bosom’ beyond infancy, which is understandable given how an abrupt separation process is viewed as preferable in our society, and the trend for such becoming more firmly fixed as a norm continues apace in the UK if an article about this country having the lowest breastfeeding rates in the modern world is anything to go by (Obviously, it helps to to avoid making value judgements regarding breastfeeding either way, but it is an interesting set of statistics – there are many complex issues surrounding the whole subject). The trend highlighted in that data suggests that capitalism has succeeded with its (unconscious?) drive to negate or at any rate diminish the biological mother/child bond – and the pictures we were asked to look at seem to express something of that. Freud’s interpretation seems specific to his own particular world view (as does mine, I’m sure).
The question then is, what informs the desire to negate mother/child bonds? One possible source of anguish for the male in our historical culture is that he is separated from the process of incubating and bearing a baby. (Is my use of the word separation here a Freudian slip?) And this causes anguish. He feels alienated from it. Is this part of what lies beneath a long history of paternalistic diminishment of women, and the relationship she has with her infant? I’m not talking about individuals per se. I’m thinking about our collective history and patterns of behaviour, informed by some of what I’ve been reading. This difficulty with women and reproduction is what I am receiving from the underlying narrative contained in Freud’s and now Lacan’s theories. I can’t work out whether I need to say more about this or less.
It was on my mind a lot yesterday but I worried I was heading down the wrong path (not entirely unusual for me). However, this morning I came across some slides by an associate professor in Miami called Jason Palmeri which more or less suggests that at least some of what I’ve been considering is on the right lines.
http://www.slideshare.net/palmeri/psychoanalysis-and-feminism (Accessed 12 September 2016)
https://www.rt.com/uk/358813-breastfeeding-pressure-british-society/ (Accessed 11 September 2016)
Image (c)SJField 2016