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Wilson, E., Jr. (1984). Revue Française De Psychanalyse. XLIII, 1979: For a Resexualization of Sublimation. Florence and Jean Begoin. Pp. 923-941.. Psychoanal Q., 53:637-638.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: Revue Française De Psychanalyse. XLIII, 1979: For a Resexualization of Sublimation. Florence and Jean Begoin. Pp. 923-941.

(1984). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 53:637-638

Revue Française De Psychanalyse. XLIII, 1979: For a Resexualization of Sublimation. Florence and Jean Begoin. Pp. 923-941.

Emmett Wilson, Jr.

The authors review the development of the concept of sublimation in Freud's writings. The concept was introduced in 1905 in the Dora case in Three Essays on

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Sexuality. The first sketches of a theory of sublimation were energic in orientation. In The Ego and the Id, identification was viewed as fundamental in the formation of psychic structure. At this point Freud introduced the concept of desexualization. This, however, would seem to limit "sexual" to the sexual act, which goes against the usual Freudian perspective. Freud's discussion of sublimation here fell back into the hydrodynamic energic view which preceded the introduction of the structural hypothesis. From this theoretical regression or confusion between the economic and structural points of view stems Hartmann's concept of neutralization. In 1923 Melanie Klein, in The Psychoanalysis of Children, analyzed the question of Leonardo's sublimation in almost diametrically opposed fashion. She viewed it as a massive and exceptionally precocious movement of narcissistic libido to object libido, in contrast to Freud's view of sublimation as the passage of object libido to narcissistic libido. Klein also saw sublimation as a reparation, while Freud held that it was a matter of using infantile polymorphous perverse impulses and exteriorizing them in a desexualized and socially acceptable fashion. The authors believe the contradiction is only apparent and can be resolved by a new understanding of the concept of narcissism and the two aspects of identification: projective or imitative identification, and introjective identification which assimilates the object into the ego. Klein, in writing of Leonardo and the passage of narcissistic libido to object libido, had in view the abandonment of infantile aims: the imitation of and projective identification with an object being abandoned in favor of an introjective identification, in which the love of the object prevails over the love of the self. This terminological quandary results from using the expression "narcissistic libido," which can stand for either primary or secondary narcissistic libido. But is the concept of desexualization necessary to understand sublimation? Is it metapsychologically justified? Meltzer has argued that work and sublimation only appear desexualized from a purely descriptive point of view, in the sense that the search for satisfaction does not imply sexual satisfaction, properly speaking. But from the structural point of view, adult work appears highly sexual. The authors then develop the Kleinian concept of reparation and symbolization, according to the work of Meltzer, Bion, and Hanna Segal.

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Article Citation

Wilson, E., Jr. (1984). Revue Française De Psychanalyse. XLIII, 1979. Psychoanal. Q., 53:637-638

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