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Traub-Werner, D. (1998). The Erotization of the Gaze. Canadian J. Psychoanal., 6(1):35-50.

(1998). Canadian Journal of Psychoanalysis, 6(1):35-50

The Erotization of the Gaze

Daniel Traub-Werner

When Jean Santeuil, Proust's alter ego in his first novel, stands on the raft, staring at the huge liquid cavern which bellies out in front of him under plunging bodies, he almost thinks he's at the entrance to the underworld. Normally Jean never sees his mother in a state of undress, but when she swims in the pool, laughing, splashing, blowing kisses up to him, and when she climbs out, “beautiful under her little rubber helmet with water dripping off her body, he would not have been surprised if he had been told he was the son of a goddess and that he had therefore been allowed to see1 the entrance to this fantastic world, unknown to anyone else.”

—R. Hayman

The vicissitudes of scoptophilia will be explored through the analysis of a man who presented with a voyeuristic perversion. A general introduction to the subject of scoptophilia and its relation to the epistemophilic instinct will be followed by a description of the salient points in this man's analysis. The paper will attempt to demonstrate that the patient's voyeurism rested on a three-pronged perverse structure that organized itself around inordinate castration anxiety, scoptophilia, and fetishism.

Seeing and exploring are the precursors of knowing. The subject of seeing and wanting to know first appears in the Bible when Adam is banished from the Garden of Eden. Adam is tempted by the sight of the forbidden fruit; however, his banishment occurs only after he bites into it. In so doing, Adam becomes the first perverse man because he attempts to actualize forbidden desire. Desire is by definition unattainable, and the desired-wish belongs to the realm of neurosis. Conversely, the attempt to actualize desire, to actualize what is unattainable, belongs to the sphere of perversion.

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