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Thread: A Psychoanalytic Personality matrices pt 1

  1. #1
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    Default A Psychoanalytic Personality matrices pt 1

    This schema isn't well rounded. It indicates two general trends in the personality but the focus is to concentrate on the phallic stage and 'castration complex' which Freud calls the 'bedrock of character'.

    There is more related material to be found on my blog

    I'm trying to be light on the jargon and give examples to flesh these things out.

    This is part of the work I'm using in my dissertation and I'd be grateful for any feedback.


    Freud has always emphasized the importance of bisexuality from the beginning of psychoanalysis[1] to his last writings. However, by his last writings he lost his confidence to determine what mental masculinity and femininity consisted of, compared to his earlier writings[2]. Although he maintained its importance it became a very generic formula:

    We are accustomed to say that every human being displays both male and female instinctual impulses, needs and attributes; but though anatomy, it is true, can point out the characteristic of maleness and femaleness, psychology cannot. For psychology the contrast between the sexes fades away into one between activity and passivity… (Freud, Civilization, p. 105).

    Freud’s use of activity and passivity isn’t simply one of expending a lot of energy in action vs. waiting for the other to do so[3]. Rather, a good example is found in his contrast of egoism and altruism, because, one can expend a lot of energy in altruistic behaviour but in contrast to egoism it isn’t for personal power or recognition (Freud, Introductory Lectures, p.417-8). Egoism concerns: “preservation, assertion, and magnification of the individual” (Freud, NIL, p. 96). Altruism is ultimately based upon “love for parents and children, friendship and love for humanity in general, and also devotion to concrete objects and to abstract ideas” (Freud, Group Psychology, p. 90)[4].
    From Freud’s work these two positions can be expanded even though he doesn’t do so himself. The active-masculine vs. passive-feminine positions of competition with others (egoism) and pleasure in the happiness of others (altruism) can be compared further by relating the former to the instinct of mastery and the latter to the instinct of mimicry. Freud relates mastery to the active position in the Three Essays (p. 198) and Ives Hendrick takes it up as the ‘work principle’ and “primary pleasure in effective integrated performance” in several important articles (Early Development of the Ego: Identification in Infancy, Work and Pleasure Principle, The Discussion of the Instinct to Master). Although the relation to the caregiver is necessary for the ego to be derived from the id, the child also interacts with the environment around the caregiver in a way that isn’t just about self-preservation[5]. There must be a pleasure in this and if it is part of the masculine or active development then it makes sense to follow Hendrick and talk of pleasure here which isn’t from a sexual source (i.e. pleasure in power or control).

    The link of the instinct of mimicry to the object instincts comes from Freud’s linkage of hysteria to the production of art in Totem and Taboo (p. 73). He contrasts the representation of feelings in art with the philosopher’s metaphysical system that is comparable to the delusional system of the paranoiac and the working through of guilt in the compulsive character with religious ‘ceremonials’. Hysteria is found predominately in women, although there are male hysterics, and so this should grant an insight into the passive-feminine position. In a letter to Ferenczi Freud links production of art to an instinct of mimicry and also goes into detail about its role in humour, caricature, parody, and travesty in Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious (Jokes, p. 200)[6].

    I believe it is important to point out that many people make the error of considering ‘ego functions’ to be related to matters of IQ in spatial intelligence, logic and arithmetic, and general systematizing. However, the ego is also related to ‘inner perception’ and the quality of feeling our emotions, ideals, pleasure, pain, (etc.). Along with IQ there is EQ and the ability, through mimicry, to intuit the feelings of others by our bodies’ resonance with their body (‘the look’ in their eyes and face or tone to their voice). This instinct goes further than just intuiting the emotions of others and can be expanded to intuit colours and forms found in nature and made in art, the humour Freud pointed to, the management of knowing what types of people (i.e characters) can and can’t work together, (etc). Early female analysts such as Helene Deutsch defined the passive of the active-passive binary as “an activity directed inward” and saw those of a predominately passive-feminine type as “absolutely independent in such thinking and feeling as relates to their inner life[;]… their capacity for identification [mimicry] is not an expression of inner poverty but of inner wealth” (Deutsch, The Psychology of Women, Vol 1. p.196). In contrast, she writes of the “masculinized” or active woman who no longer “draws her wisdom from the deep sources of intuition,” who has a “strictly objective approach,” and whose “warm, intuitive knowledge has yielded to cold unproductive thinking (ibid., p.298).

    It’s also important to note that someone can have emotional intuition without being altruistic and that someone can obsessionally systematize without being egoistic. Not only can someone have early fixations on the passive-feminine side and later fixations on their active-masculine side but passive feelings of devotion can be defended against and have the appearance of egoism[7]. Seeing how dynamic the mind can be it’s easy to understand how many people give up trying to sort out the active and passive poles and prefer to make everything about power or aggression alone or simply claim that character (personality disorder) is a useless concept. On the other hand, sometimes it seems to me that it isn’t worth very much to say that people tend to be egoistic and others tend to be altruistic, that some have more IQ or EQ, or a mixture of the two. I feel like I’m stating something very obvious to a person with good judgment.

    However, it’s clear that even someone with emotional intuition has blind spots. People tend to believe the rest of the world to be like them. An egoist will say that women are only attracted to buff men, men with money, or those who dominate others, while an altruist will imagine she can change her ‘bad boy’ boyfriend and bring out the good in him. Leaving romantic relationships aside, at heart, I believe these two basic positions can be seen in the liberal and conservative political stances. They are based upon whether a person believes others are fundamentally good, deserve social assistance, and marginalized groups should be included or that others are fundamentally bad, and that other people and outsider groups should help themselves, and shouldn’t impinge on the individual’s (economic) freedom. In conversations with many liberals they seem to think that ‘deep down’ others really care and many conservatives believe that love and altruism can only exist in the family or, if they exist outside of it, are too weak in individuals to trust their influence on their motivations. This isn’t to say that everyone who is liberal has a passive-feminine structure because there are later identifications with the parents (in politics, religion, etc.) and various forms of reaction against authority and even rationally self-interested reasons one can have to vote liberal. Similarly, not every liberal politician is primarily a passive-altruist. Rather, my point here is just an attempt to notice that certain motivations in individuals can be seen in the behaviours of groups and because of their size and relevance it might be easier to see these trends in them than in individuals.

    One would hope that those who study the science of the mind would appreciate these two poles[8]. However, it often seems like those who explicitly recognize them and give them central consideration have to leave the psychoanalytic community or are marginalized in it. For example, Sydney Blatt gives a very impressive review of the literature on these ideas that lists Karen Horney, Heinz Kohut, and Otto Rank, all who wrote about self and other directedness or power being in the self or other (Blatt, Contributions of Psychoanalysis to the Understanding and Treatment of Depression, p. 725)[9]. Although these people certainly introduced other ideas that might have caused them problems with they psychoanalytic orthodoxy, I think it’s important to note that Blatt himself is numbered among a small group of analysts who seem to emphasize the fundamental nature of self-definition vs. relatedness, or self as agent vs. self in relation, which place egoism and love in a broader framework[10]. Additionally, Melanie Klein goes very far in spelling out the passive-feminine position in saying “the tendency to make reparation ultimately derives from the life instinct”, (Envy and Gratitude, p. 75)[11]. Even though her two positions of greed and envy vs. gratitude and reparation as well as persecutory anxiety and depressive anxiety could very clearly align with the competitive-egoism and loving-altruism Klein did little to link her work to Freud’s mental bisexuality and the characterlogical implications have been largely ignored.

    Traditionally, the poles of ‘egoism and altruism’ place men as logical, and competitive and women as empathic and loving. Again, we can assume that this folk-wisdom is noting an emphasis or tendency and this is by no means universal. There are many men who are altruistic or have hysterical disorders and many women who are egoistic and have compulsive or obsessional disorders. So the problem that Freud had with mental bisexuality, as far as I can tell, stems from his claim that men are the ones who usually love and idealize the beloved. For Freud, true women love “only themselves,” although they want to feel like a man desires them, and if they can be said to love a man it is because they love him as what they would like to be- in a narcissistic way (Freud, On Narcissism, p. 88-90). It shouldn’t be forgotten that along with this he said that women are the sex more prone to polymorphic perversions, have a moral deficiency when compared with men, and that while competitiveness with the analyst is the characterological bedrock of the man, depression at the lack of a penis is woman’s deepest character trait[12]. However, Freud, as he should, contradicts himself here by contrasting the man’s castration anxiety with the woman’s fear of loss of love (ISA, p. 143) and in comparing being in love with hypnotism he mentions the masochistic trend involved (Three Essays, p. 150) and he clearly identifies masochism as a feminine trait (The Economic Problem of Masochism, p. 162). Moreover, Freud uses melancholia as an example of ‘a pure culture’ of the death instinct and this illness, which is characterized by an excessively cruel superego, is predominately found in women. Furthermore, the heights of morality in doctrines ‘to turn the other cheek’ and ‘love one’s enemies’ is associated with moral masochism and again, Freud clearly identifies masochism as feminine[13].

    Before I go on to examine more of Freud’s statement on mental bisexuality I’d like to both deal with my anxiety of saying something trite in contrasting competitive and loving trends in people and give Freud’s remark on narcissistic object choice its due. It seems clear to me that as much as a person can be narcissistic about their physical and/or intellectual potency he can also be narcissistic about his ‘looks’ or attractiveness. Considering the activity that could go into the former we could differentiate a subject egoist, while the latter could be termed an object egoist. The object egoist tries to make herself the object of the subject whose potency reflects the potency of her beauty. The subject egoist conquers while the object egoist wants to be conquered. This conserves some of the insight of Freud’s remarks on the narcissism of women but allows for a completely different stance to emerge from the altruistic pole. In this pole, we can identify feminine masochism in the fascination with the object that can turn into a willingness to endure denigrating requests from the beloved and entail self-sacrifice and servility. In addition, we can point to someone who masochistically needs the approval of others and suffers when he’s not liked. Thus we can have a subject altruist who risks emotional investment in love and an object altruist who desires to ‘be loved’ by the subject[14].

    If the two subject positions can be captured by the two political stances, the two object positions can be captured by the two major appeals of magazines and entertainment coverage in the media. The object egoist is concerned with beauty and being the cause of desire to the subject and entertainment has always been filled with people more known for their beauty than for their talent. The object masochist is concerned with what can be called personality and whether it’s through humour, charisma, or the ability to inspire others there are many entertainers who similarly lack talent in the diversity of their art (i.e. play the same role in acting or re-write the same song in music). They succeed because they cause delight in others more than their talent to really represent different feelings.

    In order to flesh out these four positions I’d like to examine how they’d appear at the phallic level of development as showcased in the second generation Greek gods.
    I will add the further division between schizoid (mind) and neurotic (body) in so far as schizoid represents a tendency to be more attached to the mind and neurotic emphasizes a tendency to be more embodied and concerned with property[15]. The schizoid is closer to the abstractions of math, the representations of art, or is preoccupied with things of another world while often feeling basic anxiety in being in the world and interacting with others. The neurotic is much more comfortable in his body and interactions with others but, in contrast to the schizoid, self-expression in the intellectual realm is exchanged for adopting the views of academic or popular authorities.

    In active-masculine-egoism we have


    neurotic: Ares the physically strong and competitive god of war who is most often portrayed as a man in the prime of his life. He seeks glory in conquest and his excellence is clearly in battle but today it might be better to look at the businessman who goes to the gym.

    schizoid: Hephaestus the God of metalworking and stone masonry which shows intellectual dominance as opposed to the physical dominance of Ares and whose body is crippled. His excellence is in his inventions and his trade although today it might be better to look at innovation in technology rather than carpentry.


    neurotic: Aphrodite the Goddess of beauty and sexual desire. She is described as physically beautiful, sensuous, and seductive.

    schizoid: Athena the Goddess of handicrafts and wisdom which shows that her interest is in secondary finery (beautiful adornments) as opposed to the physical embodiment of sexuality represented by Aphrodite. Additionally, with the focus on the mind Athena would stand back and observe desire between people, as compared to Aphrodite who lives it out, thus giving us a motivation for wisdom. This wisdom would be put to good use not just in unmasking potential rivals in love relationships but also in understanding the psychology of the enemy your state is at war with, and so I think Athena’s other facet, as the goddess of war, makes sense.

    In passive-feminine-altruism we have


    neurotic: Artemis the goddess of childbirth and the hunt whose interests in this masculine occupation represents an identification with a man. Her status as virgin would indicate that she loved her father, imitated him, and has remain devoted to him ever since. Freud writes: “Analysis very often shows that a little girl, after she has had to relinquish her father as a love-object, will bring her masculinity into prominence and identify herself with her father (that is, with the object which has been lost), instead of with her mother. This will clearly depend on whether the masculinity in her disposition—whatever that may consist in—is strong enough” (The Ego and the Id, p.32).

    schizoid: Hermes the messenger god of cunning wiles whose devotion is shown to an ideology or group as opposed to the identification with an individual illustrated in Artemis. He is also the psychopomp who delivers souls to Hades and this might bespeak a general altruism or kindness to people over top of any group allegiance.


    neurotic: Dionysus the god of wine, parties, and festivals who in his merriment illustrates himself to be the cause of joy and love in others. I think most people know the outgoing social type who tells stories and makes jokes and though he talks a lot it isn't about how great he is (i.e. is narcissistic). For a man we might not say he's endearing and exuberant but spontaneous and fun would cover both sexes. What I want to capture is that Dionysus, in one facet, could be seen as a ‘people person’ in the archetype of the story-telling drunkard, even though other facets of his personality are very dark.

    schizoid: Apollo or the god of music, healing, prophecies, and poetry who illustrates a more esoteric ability to gain the approval of others and touch something deeper in them than the Dionysian approach of merriment. Here we have someone who wants to guess your astrological sign or read your palm or write you a song to gain your approval or love. Mediated through ideas or art the Appollonian seeks to touch something in your core. In contrast to Athena, and her wisdom through reasoning things out, Apollo is intuition and energies.

    These gods, of course, are over-determined and in this interpretation certain parts of their character are emphasized over others but this should help to illustrate the schema. I also think it is a strength of my interpretation that Hermes, Dionysus, and Apollo are mostly represented as beardless youths as opposed to Ares and Hephaestus who are represented as men. Also, Athena is included with Aprhodite and Hera in the Judgment of Paris which links her to the object-egoist role.

    Freud’s hesitation about employing the terms masculine and feminine stem from two major sources. In the first, Freud makes the salient point that it is sometimes females who are the more active in other species and so penis and activity aren’t necessary a law of nature (NIL, p.114). However, he also makes the point that it is the musculature which is linked to the instinct for mastery and the destructive drive and in humans the male, on average, has more developed musculature than women (Three Essays p.198-9, The Ego and the Id. p.41). So, while sex and the active position aren’t linked in all species, there is a link in the human species that allows us to equate masculine and activity and is no doubt responsible for the popular notions, folk and religious wisdom on the subject (i.e. yin and yang in Taoism). To be clear, this doesn’t mean that a muscular man necessarily has more active than passive traits. Although everyone dynamically goes through stages of development in a bisexual way what is important for the economics of the libido are the fixations one has. We have all met tall and muscular men who are ‘teddy bears’ and thin, aggressive, and mean women.

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    Here are the footnotes

    [1] In every normal male or female individual, traces are found of the apparatus of the opposite sex. These either persist without function as rudimentary organs or become modified and take on other functions. These long-familiar facts of anatomy lead us to suppose that an originally bisexual physical disposition has, in the course of evolution, become modified into a unisexual one, leaving behind only a few traces of the sex that has become atrophied (Freud, Three Essays, p. 141).

    [I]n human beings pure masculinity or femininity is not to be found either in a psychological or a biological sense. Every individual on the contrary displays a mixture of the character-traits belonging to his own and to the opposite sex; and he shows a combination of activity and passivity whether or not these last character-traits tally with his biological ones (ibid., p. 219 footnote).
    [2] It is clear that in Greece, where the most masculine men were numbered among the[m], what excited a man's love was not the masculine character of a boy, but his physical resemblance to a woman as well as his feminine mental qualities—his shyness, his modesty and his need for instruction and assistance (Freud, 3 essays, p. 144).
    [3] People speak of ‘active’ and ‘passive’ instincts, but it would be more correct to speak of instincts with active and passive aims: for an expenditure of activity is needed to achieve a passive aim as well (Freud, NIL, p.96)

    [4] To widen the sense of this pole, in other places Freud also pairs devotion, with such words as gratitude and enthusiasm (IL, p. 55, 425). At the end of the section I will propose to widen the two poles into 4 positions by following some suggestive remarks of Freud. In addition Jules Nydes writes:

    In such a formulation, the word love is not defined in an ideal sense, but is equated rather with interest, attention, sympathy, pity, concern, and endless variations and combinations of what are generally construed to be the rights of one who is dependent. It involves apparent submission to the love object. The word 'power', too, does not reflect constructive mastery or achievement so much as it implies, in this sense, power to enforce submission from others (Nydes, Schreber, Parricide, and Paranoid-Masochism, p.210).
    [5] It must be remembered that if a child doesn’t have caregivers and is merely fed by people or raised with animals that it will become a feral child and won’t develop language and many other cognitive abilities on its own. The Kleinian school uses the concept of projective identification to understand this development as mentioned in the last section.
    [6] “the peculiar mimicry of the artist in being able to make his ideas about things similar to them and then being able to re-create these ideas—back to the outside world—anew, in the form of words, materials, colors … In the final analysis, the same roundabout way that is characteristic for the wish fulfillment of the artist in general” (Freud, The Correspondence of Sigmund Freud and Sandor Ferenczi Volume 2, 1914-1919, p. 101-2)
    [7] For example, Lawerence Josephs shows how the anti-social character is defending against dependency in Character and Self-Experience (chap 14).
    [8] Freud often criticized Adler for only seeing egoism or power in every neurosis:

    The picture which one derives from Adler’s system is founded entirely upon the impulse of aggression. It has no place at all for love. One might wonder that such a cheerless aspect of life should have received any notice whatever; but we must not forget that humanity, oppressed by its sexual needs, is prepared to accept anything, if only the “overcoming of sexuality” is held out as bait (The History of the Psychoanalytic Movement, p. 446-7).
    [9] One Kohutian writes:

    One pole consists of the person's most basic ambitions, goals and self-esteem, which develop out of the young child's grandiosity and exhibitionism being mirrored and affirmed. The other pole consists of the person's core values and guiding principles, which develop out of the young child's idealizing and feeling merged with the “omnipotence” of the parent. A creative “tension arc” develops between these two poles, motivating each person to fulfill the unique potentialities established in the basic design of his or her nuclear self. Hence, this model suggests an energic flow between two oppositely charged poles, and underscores a relational matrix of psychic energy which provides the most basic human motivation. Thus, “the needs of the self, rather than the demands of the instincts, motivate inner activity, growth and movement (Kill, Kohut's Psychology of the Self as Model for Theological Dynamics, p. 20).

    Horney talks of the passive-feminine, compliant or self-effacing trends that "lie in the direction of goodness, sympathy, love, generosity, unselfishness, humility; while egotism, ambition, callousness, unscrupulousness, wielding of power are abhorred" (Horney, Neurosis and Human Growth, p. 54). In contrast the active-masculine or expansive trends take up those motivations and even when morality (superego qua guilt) limits them, there is a sense of moral perfection in the individual.
    [10] Blatt also lists numerous non-analysts who similarly talk of the two poles (ibid. p. 726).

    [11] Interestingly, Klein seems to exclusively focus on the phallus not as a symbol of power, as most others do, but as a symbol of reparation:

    Genital sublimations in the feminine position are linked with fertility- the power to give life- and thus also with the re-creation of lost or injured objects. In the male position, the element of life-giving is reinforced by the phantasies of fertilization and thus restoring or reviving the injured or destroyed mother. The genital, therefore, represents not only the organ of procreation but also the means of repairing and creating anew (Klein, Envy and Gratitude, p. 82)

    [12] In this respect children behave in the same kind of way as an average uncultivated woman in whom the same polymorphously perverse disposition persists. Under ordinary conditions she may remain normal sexually, but if she is led on by a clever seducer she will find every sort of perversion to her taste, and will retain them as part of her own sexual activities. Prostitutes exploit the same polymorphous, that is, infantile, disposition for the purposes of their profession; and, considering the immense number of women who are prostitutes or who must be supposed to have an aptitude for prostitution without becoming engaged in it, it becomes impossible not to recognize that this same disposition to perversions of every kind is a general and fundamental human characteristic. (3 essays, p. 191)

    “the female's wish for a penis… is the source of outbreaks of severe depression in her, owing to an internal conviction that the analysis will be of no use and that nothing can be done to help her (Analysis Terminable and Interminable, p.252)

    [13] “Thus masochism, as people say, is truly feminine. But if, as happens so often, you meet with masochism in men, what is left to you but to say that these men exhibit very plain feminine traits? (Freud, New Intro lectures, p.116). Andre Green also contrasts the moral masochism with moral perfectionism in his essay on Moral Narcissism in On Private Madness that speaks to the active and passive differences here. Additionally, Hans Sachs contrasts the masculine and feminine superego in ‘One of the Motive Factors in the Formation on the Super-Ego in Women’.

    [14] Freud points to the object position of the altruist when he writes:

    loving—being loved, corresponds exactly to the transformation from activity to passivity.… according as the object or the subject is replaced by an extraneous one, what results is the active aim of loving or the passive one of being loved—the latter remaining near to narcissism. (Instincts and Their Vicissitudes, p.133)

    Freud says that being loved is “near to narcissism” but again one must pay attention to the phenomenology. Just because a person talks a lot and seems to draw a lot of attention it doesn’t mean that they are establishing their power or dominance. Rather, as the object egoist wants to be the cause of desire in the subject, the object masochist wants to the cause of delight in the subject. Here qualities like charm, endearment, exuberance, or spirituality and depth are in order. Early analysts like Wilhelm Reich also clearly saw this position at work in their patients: "his desire to be a child who is loved by everyone-- at the same time realizing that he himself neither wanted to love nor was able to love" (Reich, Character Analysis, p.113)
    [15] This is the contrast the Jung explicitly made between the introvert (schizoid) and extrovert (neurotic) in Personality Types although, at times, some of his definitions (i.e. power in self vs. power in other) seem to be related to mental bisexuality.

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