By Karen Barna
Nothing is more painful than to suffer the hatred of an envious and jealous sibling. Sitting at my dining room table I can still recall the painful expression that came across my twin sister’s face during a dinner conversation in which she exclaimed, “Because I hate her!” During this time I was going through an eating disorder and I had lost weight as a result of taking diet pills and exercise. This followed the rejection of a boy, whom I admired and whose affections remained outside the limits of my plump and dumpy female brunette form. As a result, I had gained the attention of my parents and many of my friends, especially boys who were starting to take notice of my new transformation. What I didn’t anticipate was the seething amount of hatred that would be planted in my sister’s brain as a result. I can just hear her in her glee and jealous envy today, “Oh my god! She’s getting so fat!”(the hidden added bonus of complete stupidity must be the cherry on top the cake for her). Every time I witness a glimpse of this behavior coming from her in an attempt to try and cement social relationships, I can just hear the stifling cries of that hidden loadstone hanging from around her neck, that past psychic wound from adolescence. I can only assume that she must of felt abandoned and unwanted going through the whole sorted affair of my eating disorder. My parents taking me to doctor visits and sitting me down for “talks,” showering me with love, affection, and attention (the best they knew how) which was normally not a part of our everyday daily routine. What she didn’t realize at the time, and what I painfully had was that I didn’t want their attention. Well, at least not my parents anyway. I enjoyed the new privileges that my newly transformed body afforded me, new female and male friends. Suddenly I had become accepted. I didn’t want people making a big deal about my weight and the fact that I had changed. I just wanted to be loved and accepted by others. Something that was severely lacking in my nuclear family, and in large part, most of modern Western civilized society.
Exactly what personality constellation possess and harbors joy for another’s suffering and failure? Undoubtedly it is a personality constellation that is highly narcissistic, but what variant of a personality disorder? And yes, I consider it a form of mental illness. What demon could be lurking there? There will never be want in our society for women, and men for that matter, who relish in watching others fail. I use to consider it a major dysfunction in a modern day free market democracy. Now, I consider it in large part due to the human proclivity, lacking adequate preparedness and temperance in effective child rearing.
The need and desire for man to be capable of transforming himself into something else, something better, has been with him since the dawn of time, and I would venture to suggest that even Paleolithic man was probably just as vain as modern man when it came to trying to “woo” the affections of his cave dwelling counterparts. If pre-historic man had the capability of transforming the walls of his cave with artistic paintings, then why wouldn’t he have been capable of transforming his body with other ritualistic symbolic acts? Of course this must be so! Do we really need evidence to prove this? What we lack is the preserved evidence as to what constituted these ritualistic symbolic acts.
In the 19th century in Western European societies, the young boy chafed under the control of the distant, foreboding, sex forbidding and omnipotent father. And since then, modern men and women have sought to manipulate their bodies, and sometimes to gross extremes, in an attempt to transform their cheek bones, breasts, bellies, buttocks, thighs, noses, virtually every part of their bodies through surgical means into something better, something more desirable. Advancements in technology has allowed man’s efforts to transform his body into something better, whether it be academic knowledge, brain power of the medicine involved in such procedures, increased muscular strength through physical training, or the large acquisition of objects through the financial status of wealth. All these behaviors have one ulterior motive, the acquisition of a privileged sexual intercourse with their desired ‘love object.’ Yes, that’s right. The sex drive! This strong innate psychic characteristic has driven man to extremes. Tied closely to these behaviors of repetition is the castration complex or castration anxiety. Whatever the origins of men’s psychic anxieties, the wish and need, to manipulate their bodies and the environment is a direct result of men’s own defensive efforts. Defensive efforts which are expressed through the narcissistic constellation of personality. My need to take diet pills and exercise until I fit into a size appropriate to my cohorts at 13, a size that was more suitable and desirable to young men of my age group, came from one primitive drive. The drive that would sustain and promote our survival and continuation of our species. The fault in my stars, the gods who reign over me think I must be a eunuch.
The literal act of castration itself during ancient times served many purposes, however, castration as a punishment inflicted by men on men for religious reasons or by law is a comparatively late institution in the timeline of human activity. In the Middle Ages, as part of the talion law, with no special sexual connotations, castration was a punishment inflicted among the Germans for performing sacrilegious acts, but only as a part of total dismemberment. Before the Middle Ages, castration was inflicted by the victor in combat or war on his defeated enemy. This is the ritualistic symbolic we see in modern day man as the “castrating ego complex,” which seeks to cut down man through intellectual prowess or through technological manipulations. Please refer to electro-shock therapy and Antônio Egas Moniz’s labotomy as a form of this “castrating complex” through man’s use of technological means. In both religious and military practices in Egypt: in the eternal fight between Horus and Set, Horus castrated Set after the former had torn out Set’s eye. Similar stories of castration of the vanquished occur in other mythologies, particularly the Greek. The main purpose of these actions was to gain for the victor the masculine power of the victim and, which I have previously stated, comes down to nothing more than fertility power of one’s opponent.
Castration anxiety can lead to counter phobic elaborations or psychic superstructures in which delusions are maintained and created through the faulty introjections of some former past psychic life event.
The castrating ego is the ego that seeks to acquire the fertility resources of ‘other,’ not necessarily the persons sexual objects, although it could be carried out as such. The need to “cut down” your opponent as seen in competition everywhere serves to promote our survival. But at what point does it become dysfunctional? When it serves no other purpose other than to carry out the psychic counter-phobic measures or delusions created as part of a superstructure in the human intellect. The shear sadistic enjoyment of gaining the power and control over another, whom one has no entitlements or rights to, in object relations and acquisition, is dysfunctional. Carrying out punitive measures is usually accompanied by feelings of joy and pleasure in watching the ‘other’ suffer unnecessarily, especially as seen through the retributive act of revenge.
This castrating fear, which I see so much of in modern Western civilized society, hides behind the uncontrollable flood of fear experienced when “competetion enters the room.” Have you ever experienced this fear? What happens to your demeanor? Do you act differently? What we need to be doing, as a species, is talking about this because strategies that make us feel comfortable in our own skin begin with the knowledge that we are maternal and paternal spirits of the universe and, that as such, we are engaged in something far more important than our petty childish fears. The knowledge that we conquered them through the magnanimous power of our vaginahood and clitorean possession or penal package (even women can sometimes possess the balls to go against a mighty warrior). We all possess these spirits of the great and eternal universe. It is when the castration complex rears it’s ugly head that we can become engaged in a psychic battle, one that sometimes makes us feel ill equipped in overcoming the manifestation of this past psychic threat to our very existence. My approach has always been withdrawl. But, then again, I’m a peace keeper. My totemic spirit is shared with every Nobel Peace Prize winner who has ever sought to avoid conflict. It’s not too hard to see these qualities in others when we watch quietly. Witnessing various personalities we can sometimes easily pick out those who are warriors and those who are interested in peace. The quiet girl who doesn’t speak. Stoic in her form, no doubt a result from her repeated encounters with the Skeptics, beat down into submission. The aggressive arrogant three piece business suit with piercing eyes of an eagle. Or maybe it’s the sexual prowess of a middle-aged dominatrix, ready at will to seduce her victims. How to handle these people? Formulate a new strategy.