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Wyly, J. (1989). The Perversions in Analysis. J. Anal. Psychol., 34(4):319-337.

(1989). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 34(4):319-337

The Perversions in Analysis

J. Wyly, Psy.D.

The word ‘perversion’ can be counted upon to conjure up images of the corrupt, the fearful, and the forbidden. Modern psychological terminology tends to abandon it in favour of the more accurate if less colourful ‘paraphilia’. Nevertheless, I have intentionally retained ‘perversion’ in this paper, for I wish to approach a group of psychological phenomena that are very diverse, yet which share this quality of forbiddenness in our culture. It has made them difficult to discuss unconstrainedly, and my experience has been that even in analysis some people find them almost hopelessly unapproachable.

This ‘forbidden’ aura can be traced to the beginning of psychological literature on the perversions. Even in Freud's epoch-making ‘Three essays on the theory of sexuality’ one senses that Freud's assumption that the perversions are essentially infantile is partly based on his culturally-rooted discomfort with the idea of examining them as possible forms of meaningful adult behaviour (Freud 4). The assumptions behind his stance are forthrightly stated by the French psychoanalyst Jeanine Chasseguet-Smirgel in her 1984 study, Creativity and Perversion: ‘[Perversion is one of] man's attempts to escape from his condition. The pervert is trying to free himself from the paternal universe and the constraints of the law. He wants to create a new kind of reality and to dethrone God the Father’ (CHASSEGUET-SMIRGEL 2, p. 12). The idea of the perversion as regressive follows logically:

The perverse temptation leads one to accept pregenical desire and satisfactions (attainable by the small boy) as being equal to or even superior to genital desires and satisfactions (attainable only by the father). Erosion of the double difference between the sexes and the generations is the pervert's objective. He is generally helped to reach it by his mother who, by her seductive attitude towards him and her corresponding rejection of his father, fosters in him the illusion that he has neither to grow up nor to reach maturity, thereby taking his father as a model in order to be her satisfactory partner (Ibid. p. 2).

It is possible, then, to attribute much difficulty in addressing the perversions to this classically reductive psychoanalytic attitude.

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