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Wisotsky, M. (1958-1959). Symbolic Representation of Sexual Conflict. Psychoanal. Rev., 45D(4):125-126.

(1958-1959). Psychoanalytic Review, 45D(4):125-126

Notes & Comments

Symbolic Representation of Sexual Conflict

Review by:
Morris Wisotsky, Ph.D.

During the course of my work in a correctional institutional setting, I have had the occasion to interview and test many individuals whose reasons for incarceration are directly related to marital discord.

One such individual, a rather intelligent person, presented a long history of family disorganization. Since this was his first experience in a penal institution I asked him whether he was witnessing any difficulties in making an acceptable adjustment in these surroundings. Recognizing that many people who are imprisoned have difficulty in getting up early in the morning, I asked him whether this had caused him any problems. He then stated that although his occupation offered him the liberty of awakening at 9:30 A.M. in the morning for the past few years, he almost constantly arose at 5:45 A.M. He further states his insomnia may be related to his marital problem with his wife. Thus he says, “How can anyone sleep well when one is constantly fighting with his wife?” The examiner asked him why he awoke compulsively at the same time (5:45 A.M.) each morning. To this question, the patient could not give a plausible explanation.

The significance of this symptomatic act was not appreciated until the patient was required to draw some human figures as part of the general psychological examination. On one sheet of paper he drew a picture of a male figure. When asked to draw the female figure on a second sheet of paper, he rotated the paper 180o and made the drawing, although the upper portion was clearly indicated.

The symbolic representation of repressed emotional conflicts are often noted in drawings. The significance of numbers as indications of conflict is also noted in the literature. Thus, the hands of the clock at 9:30 are on the nine and the six, and the hands of the clock at 5:45 are inverted and placed on the six and nine. Sixty-nine (69) and ninety-six (96) are representative of the sexual activity often called “soixante-neuf” or mutual oral gratification.

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