Freud’s Riddle of Femininity and Some of the “Secret Peculiarities” of Female Psychopathologies
Updated: September 17, 2021, 11:24 AM
I had previously asked the question, “If you wanted to hurt a woman without killing her, how would you do it?” I mean, after all, there is no statute of limitations on the act of homicide. The following is gleaned from an interpretation of Freud’s collected notes published in the Standard Edition of his work. Of course, Freud himself admitted that his perspective on femininity was limited and what he contributed was from pure observation of feminine behaviors. Women, to Freud, the subject of femininity must have been no different than any other psychoanalytic riddle that needed unveiling. What is this “riddle” we call femininity? And what’s more, what is this “riddle” we call masculinity? I will focus on an interpretation of Freudian perspectives of femininity from some of the works Freud himself wrote. No doubt, there have been many other psychoanalysts who built upon Freud’s work regarding the ego and libidinal instincts.
Freud regarded the traits of femininity as “peculiarities” which to him must have been perceived as such because they contrasted significantly from the attributes of masculinity. In his analytic observations, he realized there was some difficulty in distinguishing the reasons behind the development of feminine attributes and whether or not these influences were due to the predisposition of the sexual functioning (genetics XX versus YY) or social breeding. Freud observed there was a strong degree of narcissism attributed to femininity. He theorized this narcissism effects women’s choice of objects as he observed it was more important for them to be loved and so was motivated by this desire more than the motive to love. He recognized that mourning the lost phallus contributes to penis envy and, as a result of this, women were psychologically bound to love and value physical vanity and their sexual charms as replacements for their lost phallus. This is the compensation the female makes in negotiating her lost phallus in the development of the feminine psyche. According to Freud, shame plays a real part in femininity as her affinity to be modest, chase, and sequestered were attributed to problem-solving strategies (development) in concealing her genital deficiency. For this reason, shame is believed to be a feminine characteristic par excellence. “As we are not forgetting that shame takes on other functions later on.” And this example of chastity is, no doubt, borrowed from the classical literature of the god Diana who ran to the woods to protect her own sexuality (chastity). Feud attributes creative intelligence to women in the discoveries they have made, in particular in plaiting and weaving. As a side note, unfortunately, it would not be discovered until many decades later Albert Einstein’s wife, Mileva Maric, a Serbian physicist and mathematician, contributed extensively to Einstein’s work in collaboration with him and to which she would receive no recognition during their years of marriage between 1903 to 1919. Freud did not, in fact, work alone on his theories. Freud also argued women are passive while men are active. Freud would commit that if you should feel his idea as idàe fixe he admitted he would be defenseless. Is it that the sexual life of women was truly a veiled impenetrable obscurity? At least, it would appear so at the time of Freud’s analysis of femininity. It would require female psychoanalytic minds to further elaborate on the unveiling of these “peculiar secrets” kept hidden beneath the woman’s unconscious mind. It would eventually come to pass, activity-passivity is a distinct personality dimension future psychoanalysts would clearly observe in therapy sessions. Lucy Holmes has written of witnessing a clear triangulation of Mother-Father-Self in both men and women (Holmes, 2008; Holmes, 2012).
My point in writing this post is to simply say that although Freud made profound contributions to the field of psychoanalysis as “the father of the field,” he was also of one type of perspective; the child’s navigation of Oedipus and resulting changes following puberty in adolescence. Freud unwittingly outlines the fault lines of femininity, and as such, it is immature femininity that is unveiled as feminine maturity develops with life events such as marriage and childbearing. In short, the reproduction of mothering.(*) We can certainly make connections to comparative literature such as the 1782 French ecrit by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos, Les Liaisons Dangereuses, and the modern movie adaptation from this literature entitled Cruel Intentions. These unveilings can be directly connected to feminine psychopathologies. The journal article from Violence and Gender, Jodi Arias: A Case of Extreme Violence, where the forensic evaluators find the personality attribute of “high impression management” as belonging to female psychopaths (Sarteschi, 2017). However, this does not solely belong to just females, it also belongs to high functioning male psychopaths the likes of Ted Bundy. We can compare the latest Disney movie Cruella as an excellent film that demonstrates how a psychopath is shaped by her environment much like the movie created by Scott Silver and Todd Phillips, The Joker. Of course, Freud noted his struggles in knowing exactly where his information’s raison d’ètre fit into the field of psychoanalysis. For me, at least, these findings certainly fit into the psychotic text of psychopathologies developing out of Oedipus and the social environment of the child. When I perceive as an image of the god Diana running into the woods to seclude herself in protecting her sexuality (chastity), I unwittingly witness the psychopathologies of male-patterned violence (rape) and associated dominances (batterers). Many of the academic formulations we have today are shaped by readings in classical literature and are still taught to shape the future of our young male patriarchy. It would require a study of diversity to gain an alternate insight with which to uncover the “peculiar secrets” of difference. It is also important to note when discussing psychopathologies there are graduated levels of difference between typologies of psychopathic personalities. In this post, I discuss primarily the determinant of age-specific characteristics to growth and development (egocentricity) and the arrival towards mature femininity.
So, my answer to the originally posed question, “If you wanted to hurt a woman without killing her, how would you do it?” It would obviously be passive-aggressive in nature as women are notorious for committing acts of passive-aggression like gossiping and spreading rumors, social alienation of women they are jealous of, setting up dieting traps for your target to fall into and fail, giving a targeted person false party time information on an invitation or bad driving directions so they get lost, etc. However, this type of psychopathology falls more into the realm of the disingenuous psychopath and its character attributes for telling stories also unscientifically termed, “The Prankster” or “The Joker” actually ends up as character attributes belonging to “The Bully.” This very real human behavior pattern has a name and it goes by many interpretations just like the Devil himself. But some call it “cock blocking” depending upon the reason for its use but its truest nature is of “The Bully.” If anyone is interested in how young feminine aggression works, one might want to preview the first season of “The Ultimate Surfer.” I enjoy this show because it’s a reality show based on surfing competitions much like Survivor. But there was a problem with real cat scratching between the girls in this season’s competition. Tia Bianco played rather dirty in the last episode’s competition by intentionally blocking Malia Ward by directing her surfboard into the lane of Malia’s. Malia, as a result, was cut off. Malia Ward is the daughter of pro surfer Chris Ward and fitness model Jaqueline Miller. This seemed to go beyond good-natured rivalry and crossed over to a downright dastardly attitude. That is, in the words of AC/DC, “dirty deeds done dirt cheap.” For some reason, the girls just didn’t like Malia Ward. I haven’t watched the entire season from the start, but there seem to be some real jealousies involved here. We can comment on the age of the young female surfers who are all in their early to late 20s with one female aged 34 and how these tie into aspects of maturity in psychoanalysis. It also ties into their desire to be loved more as a motivator than to love. And although no one was actually murdered, Malia Ward was sent home after this last episode’s competition. I believe the strategy to unnerve and destabilize the mental state of a competitor was directly due to a sense of Malia’s perceived “privilege” in the world of professional surfing and the unnerving and destabilization of a competitor who “didn’t really deserve” the opportunity because she already had clout in the business. And oh yeah, and it was announced the fact that “she sucks.”
The purpose of psychoanalysis is for the patient to come to terms with an understanding behind their behaviors, why they exist, approaches to how to change them, if they should be changed at all, and to understand that the raison d’ètre is to demonstrate behaviors that are going to be supportive to each other especially one’s classmates and teammates. Furthermore, undergoing treatment in psychoanalysis has been likened to a “spiritual experience.” Its ties to religious spiritual aspects of learning and teaching our children leadership skills and highly effective habits are imperative to beneficial outcomes.
How does all of this fit into the phenomenology of Group (Gang) Stalking with electronic targeted physical assaults? HINT: knowing age is a determinant to violence even petty passive-aggressive violence
(*)Subnote: Interpretation of Freud’s writings with regard to the marriage arrangement and the reproduction of mothering believed to bring about feminine maturity which unwittingly unveils another “secret peculiarity” which has been uncovered as the psyche triangulation of “Mother-Father-Self”:
“… Another alteration in a woman’s nature, for which lovers are unprepared, may occur in a marriage after the first child is born. Under the influence of a woman’s becoming a mother herself, an identification with her own mother may be revived, against which she had striven up til the time of her marriage, and this may attract all the available libido to itself, so that the compulsion to repeat reproduces an unhappy marriage between her parents. The difference in a mother’s reaction to the birth of a son or a daughter shows that the old factor of lack of a penis has even now lost its strength. A mother is only brought unlimited satisfaction by her relation to a son; this is altogether the most perfect, the most free from ambivalence of all human relationships.”
Balsam, Rosemary. (2012). Women’s Bodies in Psychoanalysis. East Essex, Canada. Routledge.
Benjamin, J. (1988). The Bonds of Love: Psychoanalysis, Feminism, and the Problem with Domination. New York. Pantheon Books.
Butler, Judith. (1997). The Psychic Life of Power: Theories in subjection. Stanford, California. Stanford University Press.
Chodorow, Nancy J. (2012). Individualizing Gender and Sexuality: Theory and Practice. Relational Books Perspective, Volume 53. New York. Routledge; Taylor & Francis Group.
Davis, Doug. Notes on Freud’s Theory of Femininity. Haverford College.edu ww3.haverford.edu/psychology/ddavis/. http://ww3.haverford.edu/psychology/ddavis/p109g/freudfem.html
Erikson, Eric H. (1982). The Life Cycle Complete. New York. Norton.
Fox, James Alan, and Fridel, Emma E. Ph.D. Gender Differences in Patterns and Trends in U.S. Homicide, 1976–2015. Violence and Gender. Vol. 4, №2. June 1, 2017.
Holmes, Lucy. (2008). The Internal Triangle: New theories in female development. New York. Jason Aronson.
Holmes, Lucy. (2013). Wrestling with Destiny: The Promise of Psychoanalysis. New York. Routledge.
Jacobs, Amber. (2007). On Matricide: Myth, Psychoanalysis, and the Law of the Mother. New York. Columbia University Press.
_________, A. (2007). The Potential of Theory: Melanie Klein, Luce Irigaray, and the Mother‐Daughter Relationship. Hypatia, 22(3),
Kaplan, Louise J. (1987). Female Perversions: The Temptations of Madame Bovary. New York. Doubleday. Translation copyright 1991.
Klein, M. (1959). Our adult world and its roots in infancy. In The Writings of Melanie Klein, Vol. III. London: Hogarth Press, 1984.
Niedecken, D. (2016). The primal scene and symbol formation. The International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 97(3), 665–683.
Psychopathy: Antisocial, criminal and violent behavior. (1998). New York. Guilford Press. Edited by Theodore Millon et al. Theodore Millon, in this publication, provides us with ten subtypes of psychopathy in Chapter 10. The feminine passive-aggressive psychopathologies belong to some of the least dangerous, although tedious personality types with which to interact. The Disengenious Psychopath.
Sarteschi, Christine M (Ph.D). (2017). Jodi Arias: A Case of Extreme Violence. Violence and Gender. Vol. 4, №3.
Walker, Michelle Boulous. (1998). Philosophy and the Maternal Body. New York. Routledge.
The Ultimate Surfer. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Ultimate_Surfer
The Ultimate Surfer Cast. https://www.surfer.com/features/introducing-the-ultimate-surfer-cast/