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Jelliffe, S.E. (1922). International Journal of Psychoanalysis. Psychoanal. Rev., 9(3):362-366.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: International Journal of Psychoanalysis

(1922). Psychoanalytic Review, 9(3):362-366


International Journal of Psychoanalysis

Smith Ely Jelliffe

(Vol. 1, No. 4.)

1.   A Child is Being Beaten. S. Freud.

2.   Erotism as Portrayed in Literature. F. J. Farnell.

3.   A Note on Hazlitt. L. L. Martin.

4.   A Trivial Incident.

5.   Word-Play in Dreams. D. Bryan.

6.   Collective Reviews: Book Reviews; Reports of International Psychoanalytical Society.

1.   A Child is Being Beaten.— Freud here gives another of his penetrating and illuminating discussions of human phantasy formation. This time bearing upon genesis of the sadomasochistic tendencies which in one guise or another are universal, even if with great variations in amperage, as it were. Certain cases of the phantasy in question show the relations between the “phantasy of a child is being beaten” its pleasurable content, and direct onanistic gratification. Its analysis is protected behind much resistance and shame and guilt are attached to it. This type of phantasy usually has an early inception—five to six years—and frequently is related to school whippings. Later renewals of the phantasy are occasioned by reading of cruel whipping incidents. The interesting point arises as to the real significance of corporal punishment in the scheme of pedagogics. The attempt to get to any invariable formulations was not successful. The phantasy of a child being beaten, and this is the usual form—who, why, or where, or male or female, the self or another—these questions cannot always be answered; in fact, are rarely get-at-able, but analysis seems to show that such a phantasy, possibly accidental as to its inception, is preserved for autoerotic gratification, and contains a primary trait of perversion. Some one component of the sex function has developed in advance of others, has then become fixed, withdrawn from further development, and reveals itself in some personality anomaly. It need not have persisted, since repression, symptom formation, or sublimation may have become effectual. If, however, persisting, one may expect lying behind a perversion some such infantile fixation factor. Others, like Binet, before psychoanalytic clarity entered, had observed the phenomena and shrewdly inferred its causation. The why had escaped. If the sexual component which started earlier was the sadistic

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one, then the disposition to an obsessional neurosis results. This hypothesis has been frequently verified. The present remarks are founded upon a study of six cases, four women and two men. Two were obsessional neuroses, one very severe, the other milder; a third had some obsessional traits, the fourth a hysteria; the fifth, a patient who was analyzed merely “because of an indecision in life.” What the sixth was does not appear. The present state of knowledge concerning the place the phantasy takes in the neurosis is still difficult of clear formulation.

Strictly speaking, Freud says, analytic work is only correct psychoanalysis when it has succeeded in removing the amnesia which conceals from the adult his knowledge of his childhood from about the second to the fifth year. This, as an ideal that true knowledge is more important than therapeutic success, Freud believes cannot be overemphasized. Not that later impressions are unimportant, but these are known to the world, it is the importance of the amnesias of infantile material which belongs to medical science to reveal. The physician must go deeper than the layman. The inherited libidinous factors get special stimulus between two and five and complex formation starts at this time. The phantasies of beating occur in this period; they are analytically revealed as an end process, however, and not an initial one. In presenting the general outlines of the scheme, drawn for convenience from the four female cases, Freud speaks of it as presenting typical features. The child being beaten is usually someone else in the early years, a brother or a sister, or their representatives. The sex is not first definitely detailed. The identity of the beater is hard to trace in the beginning, although it is adult; hence the weight is on the masochistic rather than the sadistic component, apparently. Later it appears the girl's father is the beater.

“My father is beating the child” is then the form which it evolves; “the child whom I hate” comes in a little later. Transformations are frequent, and a new form now puts the phantasy maker in the place of the hated child—“My father is beating me” and then “I am being beaten by my father.” It is now unmistakably masochistic and usually pleasurable. This second phase, Freud says, has not been actually found as yet; it is an analytic construction, yet none the less a necessity. A further (third) phase now carries father over to teacher, and the person to a number of persons, boys, usually, in girls' phantasies. All kinds of substitutions enter and disguise the original pattern very markedly, but a new factor now commences to enter, and that is an erotic one, of highly pleasurable content.

Tracing the development from the original œdipus situation, the father affection and mother rivalry soon are manifest. The ambivalent to the mother also exists side by side, sometimes being exaggerated; she is not connected with the beating. (In a few instances coming to the reviewer's memory the mother has been the beater of the girl; how the substitution

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took place has not yet been cleared up.) Now other children in the nursery become the rival objects—the wild energy of the period. Being beaten now is “being deprived of love and is a humiliation.” The agreeable feature of the beating comes in the intermediary form—“My father does not love this other child; he only loves me.” It thus gratifies the child's jealousy; the erotic compound then obtains reen for cement from the ego interests. As in Macbeth's witches—“not clearly sexual, nor in itself sadistic, but yet the stuff from which both will later come.” [See Johannsen's newer formulations regarding heredity, where an homologous principle is proposed to study the principles of heredity.—J.] The phantasy is at the service of an excitement which finds an outlet in the genitals (or a displacement of them). Genital organization then is becoming manifest, and father and mother incestuous phantasies, under many disguises, are present. These are nipped in the bud now by the repressive process. Some discernible external event disillusions the child, or inner yearning not effectuating causes a reversal. A sense of guilt now appears in consciousness as one of the products of repression of the unconscious incestuous seeking (compare Fate in the CEdipus myth). Now the reversal of the older phantasy is explicable. He no longer loves me, hence the father is beating me. The sense of guilt turns the earlier sadistic to a later masochistic phase”. Now the guilt effects a meeting place between the sense of guilt and the sexual love. It is not only the punishment for the forbidden genital relation, but a regressive substitute for it. This latter takes the masturbatory pathway of expression.

The second phase of the phantasy usually remains quite unconscious—in one male in this series it remained consciousbeing beaten by the mother was consciously evoked as a stimulus for onanistic gratification. Freud here contributes an interesting remark (which could be studied to great advantage) of the differences in the number of necessary transformations in the male and female. The phantasy may become conscious in thinly disguised forms. An enormous number of superstructure formations are encountered, and need to be correlated. These cases, with numerous others, provide a point of attack upon the whole evolution of the psychosexual factors. Further research is always bringing new vistas. Whether the origin of the infantile perversions is rooted exclusively in the œdipus complex is as yet but a tenable working hypothesis. Most analyses rarely get back beyond the sixth year, when the œdipus adjustment is supposedly already made. Hence, when a case of homosexuality is claimed to be congenital in the presence of only sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-year inclinations, really little value can be attached to the idea. Thus far all the evidence goes to show that the œdipus complex factors can account for the features of the neurosis—is the base of the neurosis in Freud's terms; its scars are the starting point for

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the later arriving readjustments. Marcinowski (Zeitschrift f. Sexual-wissenschaften, 1918, IV) has made a lasting contribution to this general idea of the “feeling of inferiority” as a later phase of a narcissistic scar of this type. Freud then says that the phastasies of beating throw but little light on the genesis of masochism: it is not the primary expression of an impulse, but is a reversed sadism. A complicated series of mechanisms are here revealed. Why onanism is made the nucleus of the sense of guilt, as is so frequent clinically, receives much light in view of the analysis of the phastasy. Thus the sense of guilt in the melancholic, as well as the querulous delusions in paranoia, may be resolved some day along these lines. In a sixth section of the paper Freud gives a resumé of the situation, saying that the mechanism in its essential outlines is deducable chiefly in the study of the female. The study of boys does not show a complete parallelism. The boy usually begins with “I am being beaten by my father;” It corresponds to the second stage in the girl's phantasy. This is the conscious emergent from an earlier “I am loved by my father,” which consciously later emerges as “I am being beaten by my mother.” Thus the boy is always passive to the father: a feminine attitude to the father. Freud then discusses two theories—one based on the bisexuality idea as affording the original conflict between the opposing forces; the second Adler's masculine protest, a variant of the former. They both break down, he thinks, when applied to the facts of the phantasy of beating. He concludes this most profitable study by saying that “the theory of psychoanalysis, a theory based upon observation,” holds firmly to the view that the motive forces of repression must not be sexualized. Man's archaic heritage forms the nucleus of the unconscious; and whatever part of that heritage has to be left behind in the advance to later phases of development, because it is useless or incompatible with what is new, and harmful to it, falls a victim to the process of repression. This selection is made more successfully with one group of impulse than with the other. In virtue of special circumstances which have often been pointed out already, the latter group, that of sexual impulses, are able to defeat the intentions of repression, and to enforce their representation by substitutive structures of a disturbing kind. For this reason, infantile sexuality, which is held under repression, acts as the chief impulsive force in the construction of symptoms; and the essential part of its content, the œdipus complex, is the nuclear complex of neuroses. I hope that in this paper I have raised an expectation that the sexual aberrations of childhood, as well as those of mature life, are ramifications of the same complex.

2.   Erotism as Portrayed in Literature.— Farnell has contributed an attractive essay on the relationships of personality in literary output. All literature is motivated on the basis of the writer's own life constellations; hence all real literature is an eloquent expression of the emotional life of the writer.

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In childhood are laid the seeds of that future emotional life. Farnell deals with two of four types springing from the original polymorphous perverse trends. In so far as the literary output is usually of an all-round type, Farnell does not fall into the sensational group that makes a single type of expression the entire individual. He first discusses the expression of inversion—Tennyson's In Memoriam, Wilde's Dead Poet, Verlaines and Rimbaud's more direct overt situations as reflected in their writings.

The sadistic component is shown in Boccaccio's exhibitionistic tales, and in the Sea Wolf, Jack London; whereas the masochistic component is revealed in Poe's stories, the Purloined Letter, the Masque of Red Death, etc. Whitman's Song of Myself and many of Huysman's writings reveal it. Shelley's ravings show throughout most of his poems, and Keats' attachment to the mother is obvious. Some notes on Shakespeare are of interest as expressing the many phases of his love life.

3.   A Note on Haslitt.— This comments on some of Hazlitt's insight into unconscious processes as an illustration of the well-known fact that a great variety of flashes of insight have been vouchsafed by many observers.

4.   A Trivial Incident.— A partial analysis of a symptomatic act.

5.   Word Play in Dreams.— A small associational chain in an individual analysis where yacht stood for feces. Do a lot. Done a lot—the nurse's stimulus to his chamber duty, translated by him to do a yot—yot—yacht—feces.

6.   Collective Reviews.— These are here continued as in previous numbers. Saussure reviews the French literature. This is evidently growing, though slight. No translation of any work of Freud appears in French literature up to 1920. The article is in French. Sixty-nine papers are reviewed. Starcke reviews forty articles from Dutch literature; Weiss, the available Italian literature, very slight; Abraham, the Spanish, and Szilagyi, the very rich and suggestive Hungarian literature. Ten years ago an American neurologist prophesied in ten years the psychoanalytic movement would be dead. Another equally uninformed and self-constituted prophet has just done the same, ten years hence. A glance at the volume III of the Beihefte. d. Zeitsch, f. aerzt, Psychoanalyse, which originally contained these bibliographies now made available in English, containing only a digest of the work in the past five years, occupies several hundred pages, and shows an activity even greater than that of strict orthodox neurology. So much for the first prophecy.

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Article Citation

Jelliffe, S.E. (1922). International Journal of Psychoanalysis. Psychoanal. Rev., 9(3):362-366

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