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Stolorow, R.D. Grand, H.T. (1973). A Partial Analysis of a Perversion Involving Bugs. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 54:349-350.

(1973). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 54:349-350

A Partial Analysis of a Perversion Involving Bugs

Robert D. Stolorow and Helen T. Grand

A 25-year-old male patient, with marked ego weakness and profound masochistic trends in his personality, confessed the following perversion during the early weeks of his treatment: He would stroll about outside until he found a woman standing alone, would walk up to her and, when she was not looking, would place a bug upon her shoulder. He would then tell her there was a bug on her. If the woman then brushed the bug off and squashed it with her foot, the patient would experience intense sexual excitement. He would then go home and masturbate to the image of the woman squashing the bug.

In classical psychoanalytic theory (Fenichel, 1945), a perversion serves two functions: (1) it satisfies a pregenital component of infantile sexuality, and (2) it reassures against the threat of castration. We will attempt to show how these two functions were served by the bug perversion.

The patient associated from his excitement while watching the bug-squashing to memories of feeling sexual excitement when his mother spanked him as a small child. He also recalled feeling that his mother derived satisfaction from prolonging these spankings. These memories suggest a fixation, through over-stimulation, upon anal-erotic and masochistic components of infantile sexuality: the patient experienced sexual pleasure from the anal-erotic and masochistic stimulation of the spanking (Freud, 1919) as well as through an identification with the mother's sadistic satisfaction in administering the punishments (Freud, 1915).

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