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Gillespie, W.H. (1952). Notes on the Analysis of Sexual Perversions. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 33:397-402.

(1952). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 33:397-402

Notes on the Analysis of Sexual Perversions

W. H. Gillespie

In the Three Essays Freud uttered a famous aphorism which is sometimes treated as though it epitomizes all he has to say about the perversions. I refer to his statement that 'neuroses are, so to speak, the negative of perversions'. Now neurosis is, of course, in Freud's view, a compromise between a sexual impulse and its repudiation, and the statement, as it stands, suggests that the perversion represents the positive, unmodified sexual impulse, whose modification through defensive processes on the part of the ego gives rise to the neurosis. Thus it seems implied that in perversion we are dealing with an id activity, little interfered with by ego or superego. This at least is the interpretation put upon Freud's early discussion of perversion by many of the non-analytic critics. I need scarcely add that a general survey of Freud's writings on the perversions shows that this is a travesty of his view. In his discussions of homosexuality, of sado-masochism, of exhibitionism and voyeurism, and of fetishism Freud quite clearly credits the pervert with numerous other defence mechanisms besides regression, and obviously regards the ego as deeply involved in the process of perversion formation. One of the most interesting of these discussions is related to the splitting of the ego in fetishism, a splitting which is to be found, as he points out, not only in other perversions but in neuroses and psychoses as well.

The mechanism of splitting, both of the ego and of the object, has been discussed in detail by Melanie Klein; she relates it to denial, omnipotent idealization, and annihilation.

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