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Chasseguet-Smirgel, J. (1988). A Woman's Attempt at a Perverse Solution and its Failure. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 69:149-161.

(1988). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 69:149-161

A Woman's Attempt at a Perverse Solution and its Failure

Janine Chasseguet-Smirgel


The Programme Committee of the Montreal Congress asked the author to present a case of perversion connected with traumas. Rather than speak about erotization of the effects of the trauma (death or castration anxiety transformed into a source of pleasure) the author relates the first 18 months of analysis of a young woman whose important narcissistic trauma, the result of an inadequate early relationship with her mother, is camouflaged by an avidity for sexual excitations. The aim is to transform narcissistic pain which cannot be worked through into sexuality for which release is possible. Sexuality becomes a means of expressing feelings of hate, revenge and triumph over the primary object. The ensuing perverse solution—an attempt to slip into the primal scene by identification with the sadistic penis—does not succeed.

The author advances certain hypotheses concerning the mother-daughter relationship which seem to explain this failure and to explain too the absence of a stable perverse organization in women. There follows a longing to return to the womb, in the shape of the fantasied destruction of the contents of the mother's belly, expressed as the fantasy of the end of the world, and which the author labels as 'the archaic matrix of the Oedipus complex'.

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