“. . . A symbolic space within the infant-mother relationship fosters the dimension of intersubjectivity, a concomitant of mutual understanding. This space, as Winnicott emphasized, is a function not only of the child’s play alone in the presence of the mother but also of play between mother and child, beginning with the earliest play of mutual gaze. As we see in Elsa First’s analysis of play using identification with the leaving mother, the transitional space also evolves within the interaction between mother and child.
“Within this play, the mother is “related to” in fantasy but as the same time “used” to establish mutual understanding, a pattern that parallels transference play in the analytic situation. In the elaboration of this play the mother can appear as the child’s fantasy object and another subject without threatening the child’s subjectivity.”” ~Eric L. Santner, Stranded Objects: Mourning, Memory, and Film in Postwar Germany
“The homeopathic nature of this primal work of mourning becomes increasingly evident in the oedipal stage, the next strophe in the elegiac text which helps to constitute the self as a member of a symbolic order.(To speak of oedipal scenarios is, of course, to remain within the terms of a patriarchal symbolic order and, perhaps, to address primarily, through I hope not exclusively, the experience of the male child.) In the oedipal drama the child must transform the triangulation of his dyadic relation to the mother into a source of empowerment. This triangulation or partial eclipse of the mother, which already begins with the pre-oedipal awareness of the interval between self and other, here and there, now and then, is now embodied by the father. The homeopathic “poison” that helps facilitate the transmutation of (oedipal) triangulation into empowerment was conceived by Freud as symbolic castration. In his elegant study of the poetics of mourning in the English elegy, a work to which my own thinking on these matters is much indebted, Peter Sacks has remarked on this stage of the heomeopathic procedure of self constitution:
“Henceforth the child’s sexual satisfactions and choices of love-objects will necessarily take the form of substitutes for his original desire. He will have to recognize that his sexual power is strictly limited: he cannot be the physical object capable of satisfying the desires of mother, nor can he sexually return to his earlier state of union with his origins. Instead, he now comes to posses a castrated, figurative version of such an object or power – the phallus.”” ~Jessica Benjamin, Like Subjects, Love Objects
Here are two philosophical ideas, treads of logic if you will, that connect homosexuality with the infantile (or primitive) narcissism of the narcissistic personality disorder. It is important to note, homosexuality is considered a benign form of violence where the narcissistic personality disorder can manifest itself in lethal forms.
In the beginning of life our first gaze and interaction is with the mother-other, who we do not yet perceive as individual, separate from ourselves and apart from ourselves. Instead we experience them as an extension of ourselves. This theory is at the heart of homosexuality which is actually a form of self-love or love of self in terms of love and desire for same-sex love objects. If sex is a form of violence, then the violence carried out in the same-sex relationship of homosexuality is a benign form of omnipotence over other, and when I say violence, I want to be clear that this “violence” is seen as the act of domination over another in sexual intercourse, a type of conquering if you will. Not the act of actual physical violence, but physical violence can certainly be played out in the sex play with those who have been diagnosed with gender identity disorders. In addition, the root of this self love is tied to our mothers, both male and female, because the infant has not yet learned to differentiate between female and male otherness. This theory supports why we find high levels of narcissism in homosexuality. An example in support of this would be histrionic personality disorder which many homosexual individuals can possess. This personality constellation retains high levels of narcissism and lacks empathy for other.
“She or he is marooned in a world of ruins, fragments, stranded objects that thereby take on a textual aspect: they demand to be read. The allegorical structure of baroque tragedy enacts the fallen into the disturbing opacity of a history bereft of all comforting teleologies; this fall is, however, also seen as the promise of knowledge and, as postmodern critics would have it, of the play of écriture.” ~Eric L. Santner, Stranded Objects: Mourning, Memory, and Film in Postwar Germany
So in infantile narcissism we theorize that there exists between the child and the mother-other this type of fantasy creation where the child perceives the mother-other fantasy object which has come under his domination in his imaginative and physical interaction with the child. He cries, she feeds him, although he has not come to realize her yet as another subject in her own right. The breakdown in differentiation of this mother-other subject begins during the rapproachement crisis. Over-indulgence in response to the child’s demands, or being to overly rigid becomes problematic for the child’s adequate development of ego formation.
Being too indulgent, the child never comes to fully recognize the other as separate and apart from himself, still viewing the mother-other as an extension of self, one which supplies every demand and need, the child lacks the necessary empathy to realize that this mother-other has her own identity. Her own wishes, and ones that do not include him. The struggles during the rapproachment phase, which so many parents come to grieve, are necessary for the child to realize that mother-other has a separate will of her own, one that doesn’t necessarily pertain to the will of the child, and that her needs and wishes, which are separate and apart from the child, must be met and fulfilled if peaceful co-existence is to be achieved.
Too rigid and harsh treatment of the child at this stage may compromise the child’s ego, and as the ego recedes he/she comes to feel like he/she lacks adequate control over his/her own environment. In my opinion, if this dominance over the child, in controlling all powerful fashion continues in its harsh treatment of child, than what can develop are the many possible mental illness which are carried out on the landscape of the self. In diseases like; anorexia, cutting, sexual sadomasochism, excessive exercise disorders, that is if there exists in the child’s personality constellation elements of this primitive narcissism of homosexual same-sex love as some theories in psychoanalysis has supported.
If the child has retained the phallus organ from the oedipal phase of development, the child’s ego may take the form of a castrating weapon in treatment of others. Although sexual differentiation has occurred in the psychic environment of the child in terms of the self and love of the opposite sex, this is the normal heterosexual development of a child. Child has now become a “stranded object” in perpetual mourning for the love of the other sexed parent from the oedipal phase in which he can not possess. It is the inability to mourn the lost parent that affixes itself so permanently on the individual psyche and is not considered discursive or mal-adaptive, but rather, very much needed in order to continue the life of our species in future object selection. After this phase, what follows here again is the rapprochement crisis in which the child must learn how to navigate the struggles between parent and child. If this is done adequately, the child will be given the necessary ego tools to protect the self from outside threats with enough empathy and caring, while also retaining the ability to realize the conscience needs of the self. If it is not achieved we can see something along the lines of Hitler personality; Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
But what of bisexuality? In cases where the child has identified with both the father and the mother in object selection, and what has been postulated by many psychologists is that it is one of the more balanced egos in terms of personality. Perhaps this is because it can be more benign in its expressions of dominance and control over other.
For example, I have always considered myself bisexual. What I have noticed, in terms of my own behavior, is that when I experience stress in my own environment, I also can experience increased homosexual fantasies. These homosexual fantasies have been psychoanalytically analyzed as the need to feel power and dominance over a same sexed family member. So when I experience threats that appear omnipotent and controlling, ones that threatened my personal balance and control, and which typically have appeared as family members, my behavior plays out on the “self.” Remember, “Sex is violence.” Homosexuality has been theorized to be a form of fantasized omnipotence over the same sexed other, the sexual violence over the “mother-other” who initially cared for us. What’s even more intriguing is that I was born a same-sexed twin. This becomes not so significant to my early infancy, but becomes rather important in terms of object relations in later adult family life.
Interesting too, is the use of the word écriture. Écriture is a French word simply meaning writing or more concisely literature. As applied here it means a subject who falls into mourning, the mourning of a life that has now become part of history. Literature of course is one way of preserving the past for nostalgic reasons and remembrances, just like the psyche has preserved in it the past memories, both implicit and explicit, of our past development. They represent to us the “symbolic wounds” we constantly defend against, and play up to in our human communication and interactions with others, including the self.