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Stein, R. (1998). The Poignant, the Excessive and the Enigmatic in Sexuality. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 79:253-268.

(1998). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 79:253-268

The Poignant, the Excessive and the Enigmatic in Sexuality

Ruth Stein

The author offers a contribution to redressing a certain lack of theorisation concerning the specific power and meaning of sexuality. This begins with George Klein's suggestion that it is the quality of a specific, poignant sensuality that characterises sexuality. Bataille's ideas about the violent and excessive aspects of eroticism provide some answers to the question of what makes for this special poignant quality. Bataille captures a profound link between the sacred and the erotic with regard to their both being linked with taboos and their transgression as opposed to habitual ‘work mentality’ and established order. The excessive dimension highlighted by Bataille is complemented in the work of Laplanche about sexuality as opposed to ‘functional’, self-preservative ego needs, and the excess of the ‘enigmatic message’ transmitted by the mother while satisfying the infant's ego needs that establishes the infant's unconscious and sexuality. Losing the nutritive object, a process of fantasising sets in; the influx of strong sensations that cannot yet be integrated spills over into libidinal excitement. The gap between the other's excess and the child's limited resources can then be sexualised. A picture emerges of non-procreative sexuality as foreign to ordinary experience and as transcending one's limits.

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