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Peterson, C.A. (1991). Pornography and the Primal Scene: A Report on the Voyage to Brobdingnag. Psychoanal. Rev., 78(3):411-424.

(1991). Psychoanalytic Review, 78(3):411-424

Pornography and the Primal Scene: A Report on the Voyage to Brobdingnag

Charles A. Peterson, Ph.D.

Men gather in pornographic shows, not to stimulate desire, as they may think, but to diminish fear.

—Wheelis, 1987

Eros and Pornography

The aim of Eros is simple enough: the achievement of union and a coincidental discharge of tension (Freud, 1938, p. 148). However, for each individual “there may yet be different paths leading to the same ultimate aim” (Freud, 1915, p. 122). In this paper, I will discuss a patient who was placed on and then followed an unusual erotic pathway, traveling from chronic exposure to the primal scene in his childhood to an addiction to big-screen pornography in his adulthood. In brief, I argue that a patient's repeated exposure to the primal scene resulted in an addiction to pornographic film. His preference for big-image pornography amounted to a micropsia equivalent (taking himself as an object), a return to Brobdingnag (the second of Gulliver's Travels, where the Other is gigantic). He attempted to master the residual overstimulation of the primal scene through repetition and reenactment, imaginally create a potent father he never knew, and thereby augment a masculine identity through the incorporation and collation of various part-objects. I further suggest that pornographic stimuli may be used by the less traumatized, that is Everyman, in an attempt to speculate about and vicariously participate in the primal scene. To prevent the reader of this paper from engaging in idle voyeurism as the patient's drama unfolds, comments on the management of therapist overstimulation are offered.

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