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Sachs, H. (1986). On the Genesis of Perversions. Psychoanal Q., 55:477-488.

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(1986). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 55:477-488

On the Genesis of Perversions

Hanns Sachs

We owe to Freud's "Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality" (1905) the understanding that a perversion is the expression of an excessively strong component drive which is not satisfied through the gratification offered in forepleasure, as occurs upon normal maturation with the establishment of genital primacy; it becomes displaced onto a different erogenous zone and thus onto a different sexual aim incompatible with that of genital primacy. Freud's assertions have been amply confirmed, but psychoanalytic work with the perversions has revealed new problems which require supplementary formulations.

The most important of these problems concerns the relation between perversions and (1) the oedipus complex, (2) the unconscious, and (3) repression. These questions are closely related and may be viewed from the standpoint of the case material or from the standpoint of mental topography [that is, from the theoretical side]. In "'A Child Is Being Beaten'" (1919) Freud emphasized that our understanding of perversions will remain very incomplete unless the regular role of the oedipus complex is given sufficient weight. In one of the cases he showed that there were remnants of the oedipus complex, and he concluded, therefore, that the excessively strong component drive did not lead directly to the perversion, but rather had been deflected as it was forced to pass through the oedipus complex—as light rays are refracted passing through a lens. This is in accord with the observation that perverse satisfaction as a rule is linked to quite specific, often strange and narrowly defined conditions which, in their individuality, go far beyond the demands of a component drive. Therefore, they are not understandable



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