The Body as Rorschach

.Muriel Dimen, Ph.D Reinterpreted from one end of the century to the other, the psychoanalytic body situates theoretical debate, dispute, and change. Originally and starkly biological and sexual, it has all along carried other, often discordant meanings. Now, in the postclassical era, we are equipped to redraft the classical body. Three perspectives intercut in this interdisciplinary essay—the bodymind in culture, embodiment in psychoanalytic space, and bodies in patriarchy. This splicing of psychic reality, interpersonal relatedness, and systems of power produces bodies of many kinds. The many-drafted body funds the fecund diversity of the individuality that psychoanalysis explores and cultivates, as well as imagined and imaginable possibilities of freedom necessary to protest domination. All neurotics, and many others besides, take exception to the fact that “inter urinas et faeces nascimur” [we are born between urine and faeces]. The genitals, too, give rise to strong sensations of smell which many people cannot tolerate and which spoil sexual intercourse for them. … there exist even in Europe peoples among whom the strong genital odours which are so repellant to us are highly prized as sexual stimulants and who refuse to give them up [Freud, 1930, p. 106, n 3].

Muriel Dimen, Ph.D. is Clinical Professor of Psychology, New York University Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis; Fellow, New York Institute for the Humanities, New York University; Faculty and Supervisor, Derner Institute Postdoctoral Program in Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy, Adelphi University. For critical readings of this essay I wish to thank Ken Corbett, Adrienne Harris, Natalie Kampen, Katherine King, Tom Lewis, Robert Roth, Sue Shapiro, and, especially, Virginia Goldner.
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Consider the body a Rorschach. In its doubleness of form, its bilateral symmetry, it even resembles the inkblots routinely administered by psychologists to assess character and sanity: two arms and hands, legs and feet, two eyes, ears, and nostrils, vaginal lips and testicles, and a spine along which to fold the single units into mirror images—mouth and face, head and torso, clitoris, penis, anus, urethra, mouth, and umbilicus. Imagine! You can say anything you want about this body. You can project your fantasies onto it. See someone whose form stirs your delight, and you fantasize the fulfilment of your passion. Stare at a body like your own, and your lust flames or dies. Perhaps you glimpse a person whose skin color makes you think of danger, and you swerve or freeze in fear or defiantly keep right on going. The body might not be a blank slate, but it is surely treated like one. A surface, yes, but also a cavity, the body is both external and internal, more than skin deep. A three-dimensional trellis of bones with a carapace of skin housing the organs of life, it is animated not only by the pulsating blood and guts nestled in the corporeal interior but by something less tangible—a mind, some would put it, or a soul, or, metaphorically, a heart. Psychoanalysis names this interiority “psychic reality”: “whatever in the subject's psyche presents a consistency and resistance comparable to those displayed by material reality; fundamentally, what is involved here is unconscious desire and its associated phantasies” (Laplanche and Pontalis, 1963, p. 363). That psychic reality is as real as physical reality was Freud's earliest point. Conversion hysteria, in which objectionable thoughts and emotions turn into bodily suffering, is a cornerstone of classical psychoanalysis: it was the diagnosis that permitted Freud (Breuer and Freud, 1893-95) to begin thinking that the

mind, you might put it, has a body of its own. By using the body to express itself, he was arguing, the mind transforms the body; conversely, when psychic survival is at stake and the mind can do no more, the body takes over. Reasoning from Newtonian dynamics, Freud posited psychic energy, which could assume either physical or mental form (Brennan, 1990). In conversion, unbearable thoughts, feelings, images and memories—signally, sexual ones—take not symbolic but corporeal shape. Psychoanalysis and psychotherapy feed on this convertibility. The body, if it is a fact, is also an idea. Reinterpreted from one end of the century to the other, it situates theoretical debate, dispute, and change. Originally and starkly biological and sexual, the psychoanalytic body has all along carried other, often discordant meanings: a surface to be inscribed and a register of the psyche; “both an object for others and a subject for myself” (Merleau-Ponty, 1961, p. 167); a fount and target of power. Blessed with postclassical uncertainty, we can envision the classical body as but one of many representations of material reality,
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and redraft it. On top of it we can layer new versions, just as, through the ages, Paleolithic painters superimposed on cave walls image upon image of the fauna they needed and revered. For this deconstruction project, well advanced in the academy but overdue in pyschoanalysis, I propose a conversion of my own: deploying the jiu-jitsu of clinical psychoanalysis, in which we grant the symptom its truth, let us give the body its head. Three perspectives intercut here-the bodymind in culture, embodiment in the consulting room, and bodies in patriarchy. This splicing of psychic reality, interpersonal relatedness, and systems of power, which is my response to our common Rorschach, produces bodies of many kinds. The manydrafted body funds the fecund diversity of the individuality that psychoanalysis explores and cultivates (Shapiro, 1979), as well as the imagined and imaginable possibilities of freedom necessary to protest domination brute and subtle. Embedded in both theoretical and clinical practice, this interdisciplinary essay employs the Rorschach, that name-brand projective test, as metaphor for the endless projections and constructions to which the body has been subject. Here bodies parade through an array of perspectives: embodied patients and analysts; disembodied theorists; gendered, raced, and aged bodies; hungry bodies and breathing bodies. The potent space between binaries is mined: the elusive borderland between exteriority and interiority; ambiguities of surface and cavity; reversals between perception and projection; the interconvertibility of psychic and material reality; the contradiction of Mind-Body refitted as the paradox of bodymind. As the intersubjective body emerges from the dichotomy between the object-body of science and the subject-body of experience, clinical case material and psychoanalytic concepts like the Skin-Ego and projective identification come into play. A feminist and deconstructive reading of anality, domination, and splitting links psychoanalysis and politics. As an effect of power, the abject body's sexuality is anatomized; the dichotomized female orgasm produced by the domination of women can, at century's close, yield to a nuanced multiplicity of desire and pleasure. I use a concluding contrast between Freudian and Buddhist bodies to hint at corporealities not yet dreamed of in our philosophy. The body is what it is and what we make of it. Different practices make for different bodies. It may be, for example, that Jacques Lacan, living much in his head, found his physical body rather more ineffable than, say, a dancer might. For him, the body, as all biology, incarnates “the Real,” that which, mutely resisting symbolization, cannot with any certainty be known (Žižek, 1996; but see Butler, 1993). Impervious to our ideas of it, this cipher body is a brick wall into which all

in threedimensional flesh. as curvy as Einsteinian space. bodymind situates . it is their psychic meaning that counts. served as the German Embassy until 1918 and.E. for that. 70]. she might consult her physician. Embodiment may be conceptualized as bodymind (Wrye. The mind. and this not only in its latest shape. An interleaving of psyche and soma. only more so. he said. Psychic reality forms a palimpsest through time. for psychoanalysts. but touch and. is like Rome. Psychoanalysis was her last resort. when Cardinal could fathom her mother's madness and thereby own a hatred that.]. the city's birth.] it still showed Etruscan forms and was ornamented with terra-cotta antefixes [p. Except that in the mind's montage.]. while losing her psychosomatic bleeding forever. finally. Much pain and many years later. “I am my body. say.” The dancer knows her body as the theorist knows his words. Marie Cardinal (1983) tells of intolerable vaginal hemorrhaging that eluded medical healing. dancing must be taught hands on. these two structures hold the very same spot at the very same time: In the place occupied by the Palazzo Caffarelli [1580] would once more stand—without the Palazzo having to be removed—the Temple of Jupiter Capitolinus [of the sixth century of meanings run. I am aware of myself as a physical being all the time. an omission perhaps telling of the psychoanalytic tendency toward objectification under critique here. as the Museo Mussolini. Eve Gentry. another palimpsest or two would have surfaced: the Palazzo. both transparent and substantial. Created in 1940 by Ann Hutchinson Guest. but also in its earliest one. a notion we can employ in working through the Cartesian split between subjective mind and objective body governing Freud's thought. or the History of the Bodymind Certainly physical bodies exist. when [in the 6th century B. of how I change according to what I am doing and how I am moving. had maddened and sickened her in turn. a historian of Roman art who has kindly supplied both the foregoing dates and data. in layers of time. even in the dance world. Hard on one building. and public convention. she found serenity at last. dating from. Consider the fate of Labanotation. Her analyst forbade all talk of her physical suffering. Yet. interpersonal history.C. says Natalie Kampen (personal communication). of the fourth dimension. For others. 1959)—not just sight and sound. Listen to Irene Dowd (personal communication). psychic history is as layered as a Napoleon. said he. Helen Priest Rogers. the body and its activity exceed representation. 1998). but. kinesthetically activating multiple sensory mnemonics (Schachtel. and Janey Price. time. one of many sorts of transcription that are to dance what the score is to music.E. for a moment after 1925. Unlike linear.C. perhaps. His interest was her body's representation in her mind. The body's psychic reality is an effect of history. however. disavowed. it has largely yielded to video (Zina Steinberg. is another from. as the Romans of the Empire saw it [between the first and 6th centuries C. In this “jumble of a great metropolis” the present neighbors immediately on the past. Had he factored in the use of these buildings. Notice. each layer surviving into the present and stretching toward the future. even smell and taste. the body is quite vocal. the Renaissance.E. personal communication) and video's ability to capture the body's signature mobility.’” she laughs. Recall Freud's (1930) brilliant but flawed use of spatial absurdity to figure the temporal impossibility of mind. inhabited by the body in all its immediacy. Psychic Reality. private epochs. a dancer and neuromuscular educator whose sensibility might in fact define embodiment: “You speak of ‘the body. that Freud did not speak to what you might call architectural embodiment. Still. possibly. across time. one-damnthing-after-another historical time.

each imagined little boy begins to have his own memories. bodymind denotes not two separate functions but a third area: the body as “the subject of perception [in] a dialogue with the world. each slowly and in pieces tells the story of his own injury. chiding HC for being a baby. frightened. Opening that “frontier between the mental and the physical. like a palimpsest. At age five and then again at age seven. p. conceived by Didier Anzieu (1989) as “the original parchment which preserves. He remembers sitting. 384). Perhaps the self is written plurally on the body. as I saw in a black and white snapshot that he sent to me after the therapy ended). After the fact. became systemic. into a large juice glass. Or. he force-marches himself through his shame over rotting teeth. Bodymind moments record a life. the erased. . drunk. getting the shakes every now and then. he awakens in panic. he thinks. We work these memories until. Only slowly and with extreme terror. he remembers crying out. 1999.M. At any given moment. As HC and I cautiously weave between the concerns of his present life and the tangles of his past. not a single snapshot. in a foreign country where his father was working for an international company. scratched-out. 1975) that constitutes clinical psychoanalysis. At the procedure's end. present. memory is a series of drafts. took a pair of pliers. the boys grow older and merge into one: by the time HC left treatment. Later came a final. but it may also speak in tongues. p. none accidental and all having something to do with a very angry and alcoholic and abusive and adored father and a mother who stood by and did nothing. and then forcibly holding HC's jaws open so that the dentist could do his work. he knows. Bodymind is a perfect fount of mystery for the endless probing of the “unique individuality” (Wolstein.. he siphoned off. does he impart all these details. and future jumble higgledy-piggledy as in the mind. He fell off the roof. he fashions out of these superimposed layers three images. HC puts together. past. HC has been visited by a memory of evil: he remembers going to the dentist. he muses a few sessions later. a psychic construction that. during his treatment with me.” where Freud (1905. hunched at the foot of the bed. Think of the Skin-Ego. did his father only drool? Whatever.extreme individuality. and went into the woods where. having entered HC's mouth and soul. Shards of his fragmented psychic self. a sign that he had taken himself to his bosom. he healed a months' old toothache by yanking the backmost molar out of the lower right side of his jaw. his father smiled and then spat in his mouth. her ears flat in terror and hostility. The week after HC entrusts me with this flashback. he confides that he has visited the dentist for the first time in 30 years. and seven—who become imaginary companions. After a while. any given body may inscribe an orderly developmental sequence. with memories registered and superimposed in flesh and sensation like paintings on a cave wall. three little boys—aged two. signaled his self-acceptance. one night at 2 A. climbing on to HC's lap. at 13. is hissing and growling. HC recalls in horror and humiliation. He fell off a chair. a little bit of liquor from every bottle in the living room cabinet. written-over first outlines of an ‘original’ pre-verbal writing made up of traces upon the skin” (p. 105). revealing to me his lonely courage when. Here and there he details the bloody fights with his father that pockmarked his adolescence. His cat. color photograph of him standing in front of his new store with his new boyfriend. in the chair. he had a broken collar bone. a series of accidents that lead him to recall the central trauma of his childhood.” as Merleau-Ponty saw it (Reis. he remembers his father entering the office. he was wearing an arm and shoulder cast (dead white plaster strangely bright against young white skin. he told me with remarkable insight. Humiliation. 168) presciently but dualistically located instinct. For Adrienne Harris (1996). Somewhat later on. at age two. On and in the body. he had as his imaginary companion his own 18-year-old self. five. at age seven. he mentions that.

99-100n. 1893-95) obeys the laws of psychology. which he links to the atrophied sense of smell in Homo sapiens. psychoanalysis renders the body the mind's creature: the hysteric's body(Breuer and Freud. as Freud (1930) explained in an earlier footnote. however. 1925). Rather it denotes the condition of human birth and its effect on sexual desire: inter urinas et faeces nascimur—we are born between urine and faeces. abhorrent and abominable” (pp. receiving from the world's Welcome Wagon the gift of a nigh-traumatizing stench. 99n1). Most people.1 Freud seems to have been unaware of the puzzle: if you can't smell. ————————————— “The diminution of the olfactory stimuli seems itself to be a consequence of man's raising himself from the ground …” (Freud. p. This plethora of meaning and practice. an “organic defence … against animal existence” (pp. which might be rephrased as the mind-body problem. At the same time.The Mind-Body Problem in Psychoanalytic Theory: Anatomy is Destiny? If. “A dialectical theory … nowadays means not a theory that resolves the tension of paradox. the highly corporeal sense of smell. n. pp. head first. “Anatomy is destiny. not inborn. then. Instead of a dialectic. Leaning on Darwin. we learn that disgust is as innate as the upright posture it accompanies. As the capacity for olfaction wasted away. it is taught: “Here upbringing insists with special energy on hastening the course of development which lies ahead. while elsewhere we learn that it sets in only after birth. 3). 93). so too did sexual desire and with equal evolutionary advantage. “The excreta arouse no disgust in children. 106n. but lacking the physiological or emotional tolerance for it. indecision and contradiction govern psychoanalytic thinking about the bodymind across the century. versatile rather than sexual. And yet.” but “many others besides” (p. in a letter of 1897 to Wilhelm Fliess. Freud made a similar argument. 1930. 1). but that which sustains it. through the region of the body dedicated to waste disposal. not biology. the rather less visceral sense of sight took over as prime erotic stimulus. p. Gay (1988) tells us. so libido steers desire. constructs a polarization ripe for undoing. that classic soundbite. Homo sapiens having gained bipedal locomotion. passing through a corridor situated between the twin sewer-pipes of urethra and anus? At this point subsists an illogic emanating from an unarticulated contradiction. disgusting. 1 Indeed. the body was first and foremost sexual. it now seems protean. for Freud. born between urine and feces. Freud (1930) contended—not only “neurotics. 3)-do not like to think that they enter the world. Freud (1930) deemed diminished olfaction biologically adaptive. Primally and profoundly. One's downy little head. became a shadow of its former self. Instead of a contradiction to be resolved. why would the odor of sex bother you at all? In one place. acquired not inherited. 105-106. and which should make the excreta worthless.” Now. understandably for an epoch in which the genitals were thought to be hardwired into the nose (Gay. which allows the contradiction to stand and milks it for all it's worth” (Benjamin. innocent baby. classical psychoanalytic metaphor plumps for biology: as hunger rules the body (Freud. this immortal claim has nothing to do with the “psychical consequences of the anatomical distinction between the sexes” (Freud. Examine. 135). 3). Freud (1930) had been plumbing a “primary repelling attitude … toward sexuality” (pp. perhaps the mind-body problem is a paradox to be explored. p.” Disgust is learned. 1988. Freud's footnoted argument has the poor. The contradiction between mind and body in psychoanalytic thought constitutes a productive tension. as you probably know. for example. 105-106. 1905. with its still unclosed fontanelle. 1994. 56-57). n. If we step into that tension and construe the . so intense for other mammals.

The mind above.” the dog. His thought anticipated Norbert Elias's (1939) documentation of its cultural context: Nineteenth-century Europe's “incitement to cleanliness. scientific pedigree on deck. In the red-light districts of Civilization and Its Discontents (Freud. Like heat. for the animal in us. Freud says. distribute or circulate it in any form whatsoever. Take another look at the epigraph to this essay and imagine it in its original form. not “constitution. so. initially available only to the rich. Meanwhile. It is illegal to copy. and clean incites our shameful contempt and whose name is one of “our strongest and commonest terms of abuse. palming it off first on animals. 1905. we see. left urinas et faeces sparkling with desire.” which was potentiated. in his view. lick. inhabit culture. both psychical and theoretical. then on children. But he does try to get rid of it. next on the Other. Not only do they show what the text tells. Performed for us on Freud's page is the selfsame sickening process that Freud identified in civilization: down boy and. Shapiro (1996. WARNING! This text is printed for the personal use of the subscriber to PEP Web and is copyright to the Journal in which it originally appeared. Freud and the Nitty-Gritty Body The immediate is not unmediated. as a footnote on a page of Civilization and Its Discontents. cannot disavow childhood's corporeal excess. Freud points out. footnotes memorialize the contradiction of the good ship Freud: a red-hot manifesto for sexual liberation in the hold. and heterosexuality mandated solely for monogamously married reproduction. 306) suggests. the body below. sex and its carnal pleasures know no shame. deodorized. a little performance of showand-tell with a sophisticated twist. sadly but fatefully to be put “down there” in order that civilization might rise up. their minimalism signaling the erotics of corporeal excess. 1930). For animals and.” as Freud repeatedly terms it throughout his studies on masculinity and femininity. girl. Freud stowed below the line that which had. not human beings. of course. say some.16 - a blue-blooded. especially. As down there became “down there. to acquire. through upbringing. posing on the page and prancing on the screen. he cannot disavow the dirty pleasure of adult sex. a fastidiousness about bodily functions that children were. indoor plumbing. Here as elsewhere. by that new technology. implicitly. “Accident.” All men are dogs. p. with their anarchic instincts.” toilet training in particular and socialization in general fell into line. That many consequently lose sexual enjoyment regrettably follows on the necessary binding of human beings. whose shameless bliss in putting head to crotch so as to smell. Subtle engines of domination. Freud's illogical but culturally sensible argument predicted what the 20thcentury was to bring: those smooth. which. he scolds. Here is sex the innocent. Think. 152). In the text. repression.” causes the feeling of disgust that “seems to be one of the forces which have led to a restriction of the sexual aim” (Freud. Just as culture. then we find a third term: Both mind and body. the pungent body lives on. they also do what the text cannot say. The result is Freud's legacy: paradox.relation between mind and body as paradoxical rather than oppositional. Dirt in the new regime was for animals. p. the distinctive odors of the groin practically rise from the bottom of the page. And all things anal—from the products and process of human excretion to olfactory pleasure—became de trop. the prohibition on childhood sexuality. . it turns out. Perhaps the power of this epochal opus owes something to the notes' recursive action. he listed civilization's sexual limits: the incest taboo. of how we betray our “most faithful friend. and of its control. eventually radiated a civility aspired to by all. the notes show you how to control yourself. . a triangulation that Freud recognized but for which his system could not account. but nevertheless (or therefore) very sexy bodies. into the protective social order.

recoil from fellatio or cunnilingus. p. Projection (Laplanche and Pontalis. 1930. in Sander Gilman's (1993) argument. that Freud virtually stopped having sexual intercourse around the age of 40. in disidentification one disassociates oneself from it. But the only way Freud could memorialize the erotic appeal of the nitty-gritty body was to project it outward and downward. In fin de siècle Austria. according to popular belief as well as his own clinical data. feces. given that the sexual body may rightly be judged a psychoanalytic creation (Foucault. I know. he turns right around and says the opposite: “in spite of the undeniable depreciation of olfactory stimuli. 105-106n. 1976). his acquaintances. Jews. Faced with a contradiction—the robust appetite of some unidentified European peoples versus the squeamishness known to him from his patients.” the universally adaptive advantages of these prejudices “are at present no more than unconfirmed possibilities which have not been substantiated by science” (pp. A strange thing to say. Having taken some pains to argue that human sexual malaise is universal. himself2—he articulated his confusion in a way that permits one to infer at least an ambivalence on his part about the relationship between anatomy and destiny. 205).” even the damning “a bitch in heat. the “result of [Darwinian] research coincides in a remarkable way ————————————— We know from his letters (Gay. property or attribute of the other and is transformed.Hence too the insulting “son of a bitch. 1988). however. women— begin to look pretty much alike. if only figuratively. 3). Typically. and therefore disidentifies from. Their oral erotism thus restricted to mouth-to-mouth contact. peasants.”) In the same breath. the racially and sexually stigmatized.” Freud knew that not all human beings so disdain the scent of sex.” When it comes to the animal in the human. some “peoples” relish the intoxicating mix of urine. Freud's disidentifications create a strange and potent stew of country. 1963. Jews were docketed as a mentally and physically defective race. possibly. Freud's unconscious effort to expel from his own bodymind the dregs of his abject Jewishness fed his denigration of women like an underground river. class. and hence his class pride were. all the inferiorized. Carnality is not lethal: nose to groin. their sexual pleasure likewise contracts. “Nevertheless. (We might then wonder whether. 3). and. Freud colluded by scotomizing his roots and identifying with his nation. pp. and sexual fluids and rather defy you to take their pleasure away. that some have a different erotic sensibility. They are made to identify with what he dislikes. his reviled Eastern European Jewish forebears were those very “peoples” who defiantly prized “strong genital odours … as sexual stimulants. 2 with commonplace prejudices that have often made themselves heard” (Freud. His sense of his ethnicity. in himself. and gender. most people. equally a dilemma about racial and gender identity. A Body that Stinks and a Body that Thinks . In the miasma of Freud's unease. 3). 1963) “is always a matter of throwing out what one refuses either to recognise in oneself or to be oneself (p. wholly or partially. If in identification one “ssimilates an aspect. after the model the other provides” (Laplanche and Pontalis. race. 354). To be concrete. there exist even in Europe peoples among whom the strong genital odours which are so repellant to us are highly prized as sexual stimulants and who refuse to give them up” (p. 107 n. Freud gets on his high horse and gallops away. he tells us about it. according to Gilman. 105-106 n. On one hand. an anti-Semitism with which. Gilman contends. sex. consistent with evolutionary exigency. all the abjected Others— the body.

3). The swain disgusted slunk away. Augustine. We can read the associative chain: men = Man = human. since he had not beaten her for a week” (pp. Bernard of Clairvaux. The case of women is paradigmatic. Soon punished Strephon for his peeping. We seem to be dealing with a misogyny as old as Aristotle. while women = ? or. Admire Jonathan Swift's (1732) satiric vision in “The Lady's Dressing Room” (pp. Repeating in his amorous fits. Celia shits!” [p. Strephon sees a woman who reminds him of sex.” she is also a woman. His foul imagination links Each dame he sees with all her stinks: And. he shoves it back in. translated probably by St. maleness may serve not only as “a critique of femininity. meets what Freud considered to be Man's fate: But Vengeance. Here is a self-that-can-insert-into an other-that-can-receive the fear. Once again. 356). and racism sure hits that funny bone. a classicist. Jews. 451]. the unconscious equation of humanity with men inflects Freud's view of the sexual world. He smells something noxious and imagines a woman. 78) canny phrase. but also as an assessment of any abject category whatsoever—peasants. excreta. In Freud's thinking. Conceives a lady standing by [p. 105-106 n. and so on. literally and figuratively. 180) but does not notice the gendered aspect of either the omission or his correction. 3 The mistaken equation that causes Strephon's particular malady—foulness = femininity = foulness—becomes. peasants. a disease common to humanity. classism. “Oh! Celia. the poem's protagonist. Doubtless there are women who have no taste for the aromatics of their own repro-excreto-genital . Now Strephon. woman.” Subordinate and rural. bodies. 1963. in Lacan's version. goddess never sleeping. Brown (1959) names St. Ho ho. Augustine3 Freud used (albeit without citation): “inter urinas et faeces nascimur. 4 Brown (1959) chides scholars for ignoring what both Freud and Swift had to say about anality (p. and contempt that so often mark the intimacy of enemies. Schein.The Body Relieved of Embodiment As soon as Freud brings the body out of the closet. hatred. although Seth L. p. Celia. if unsavoury odours fly.” not a “self. Norman O. possess or control it” (Laplanche and Pontalis. the butt of both her man's aggression and Freud's. p. reprogenital aromas. whose phrase. one of “them” as opposed to “us.” Why did Freud not notice that those smells that he presumed vaporize sexual desire belong exclusively to those in whom the birth canal is found? To put it differently: The people who love that region of female anatomy inter urinas et faeces are. What a mess!4 ————————————— I have attempted to discover who actually translated Aristotle. The efficiency with which this pleasantry fuses sexism. understands that it might have been St.” in John Toews's (1998. Why couldn't Freud tell that joke about one of his bourgeois patients instead of a stereotypical woman from an Austro-Hungarian village? That she lacks an ethnicity is probably part of the humor: she is an “other. Ponder the joke that Freud (1930) used to illustrate his claim that a “quota of plain aggression” invariably accompanies Eros: “The love-object will not always view these complications with the degree of understanding and tolerance shown by the peasant woman who complained that her husband did not love her any more. in Freud's thought. 448-52): Thus finishing his grand survey. 451]. The conditions are ripe for projective identification: “a mechanism revealed in phantasies in which the subject inserts his self—in whole or in part—into the object in order to harm.

but the truth is. the weaknesses and wetnesses and mortality and. then. better. cognizing mind in the case of Little Hans. not a body that stinks. ————————————— Jane Flax (1983) has linked this body precisely to the two-year old. living “even in Europe. It is a body suited to Descartes' cogito. the artist's often headless muse. a body that thinks? Rodin's sculpture concretizes the body latently conjured by that third-person neutral. vaginal fluids. hidden away by gender hierarchy (Jaggar and Bordo. the ordinary absence from philosophical considerations of women's socially ordained and highly embodied concerns—housework. Woman is the prime. without a doubt. hello. for that matter. “Is male to female as culture is to nature?” is a body that stinks as much as it thinks. However. urine. the senses of the ordinary body that are in European history made the property of women (Grosz. the stinks and smells. Ken Corbett (personal communication) adds. well. maybe we don't want to either. Or. with feminist philosopher Iris Marion Young (1990). is male. cleansed of embodiment. which we sophisticates regard with fascinated and horrified disgust that “the sexual instinct in its strength enjoys overriding” (Freud. 1994). . excretory. he slaps it back on. for psychoanalysts as for everyone. emoting body to the separatingindividuating. of men's. But this dangerous. Body. Recovering Embodiment Embodiment has lived a sort of secret life. 1989). both venerated and abominated in Western culture. Have you wondered why Rodin's The Thinker took a male form? Feminism has chastised Western culture for reducing Woman to her Body. knowledge. he is trying to liberate his readers: Look. and hair. a body whose main feature is its head borne on a hefty fist. 152). so near as to be almost one of us. The female body may be the West's own private Rorschach. meaning. really resides close by. you might say. It is. male body that is. and reproductive zones. Mind. if you will. Perhaps the conundrum in Sherry Ortner's (1974) classic question. child rearing. heterosexual. 5 preserved in the private domain ruled by women. to note another drift: the classic Western body. cognizing mind.5 As Young (1990) argues. But a body with a head.region nor. A body that thinks. vehicle. good-bye. We know that far from our cosmopolitan capitals exist many strange orders of folk who relish the aromatic stew of ejaculate. exciting preference. Abjected on the margins of adult corporeality. as well as by Western culture at large. Protestant. thy name is Woman. A body that neither feels nor knows itself. upper-middle-class. as can be seen in the move from the emoting to the separating-individuating. I want. 1905. although not the only. officially but a literary convention. which subordinates the boundary-losing. Bye-bye. actively and repeatedly constructs a particular type of body for all to see—the “abstract individual” of capitalism with a white. Sex. p. however. these crotchlovers are intimate neighbors. Like the adjacent genital. the negotiation of interpersonal life—bares the secret Western premise that “the body” is male. Stench. a male one at that. an objectbody. feces. sweat. Anglo-Saxon. it is free of the stresses and strains.6 As quickly as Freud tears off the fig leaf. a body relieved of embodiment. men. you the civilized want it too.” If they won't relinquish their olfactory delight. the nauseated people for whom the association between the condition of their birth and the smell of sex is so intolerably close that it snuffs out their sexual desire are. On one hand. body as source of experience. and.” which. to transport the abject aspects of human experience away from the civilized center of daily life. you may think that all this carnality belongs only to lower types like peasants. most important. the female body also and equally memorializes embodiment. selected by Freud. “he.

1996. 1971. bodies are construed as thoroughly social. 173-183) as an unambiguously boundaried and singular subject. for instance.On the other hand. because (at least) two people are involved in it. the body of psychic reality. He speaks of “the metaphysical structure of my body. interpreted. in this new response to the universal Rorschach. the body of pleasure and pain. the body is a material entity. In MerleauPonty's paradox. Like as not. processes and incarnating cultural ideals of individuated personhood: “it is disciplined. is invariably doubled. is brought on by social. existing simultaneously for self and for other. unconscious as well as conscious signification. on it. subject to natural. The body he knew is the body as the object of scientific knowledge. restrained. each from a necessarily different relation to it. among the Wari' of the Brazilian rainforest. How helpful Merleau-Ponty's stance can be in our reflecting on psychotherapeutic embodiment. she performed the psychical and social . Embodiment renders the body a site of experience and source of knowledge differently available to the person living in that body than to the person watching that body. while killing an enemy begets puberty in men. not outside in. this objectbody reproduces gender hierarchy. which. the body made of emotion as well as of thought. is always doubled and intersubjective. This ostracized subjectbody is certainly the sexual body. In contrast. the paraplegic's “body silent. 1987). “the body known as a third-person observer knows any object in the world” (Sampson. the body always involves other minds. keeping one part and expelling the other. An object for others and a subject for myself. but it is equally the sensed body. we are now understanding. No one can know my own body from the inside as I do. the body known from the inside out. The body's psychic location. puts it: “our boundaries are made of people. splitting the body into two. The body that has disappeared from psychoanalysis is the body of experience.7 Fatherhood in this nonmonogamous society is plural: “any man who has sex with a pregnant woman contributes semen to form the fetus' body and has a claim to biological paternity” (p. The body can be both subject and object. Freud has been engaging in a little anality of his own. 1985). but knowable world called “she” by the probing scientist (Keller.” which loudly compels our attention (Murphy. which is both “an object for others and a subject for myself” (p. Even prenatally one's boundaries are made of many Wari'. nor can I perceive it as you can from the perspective of your own embodiment. to which it is inferior. which exists outside of mine. As Elsa Beatriz Cardalda (personal communication). and autonomous—a kind of private property” (p. unlike the Eurowestern embryo. and governed by mind. 671). p. AB's body was her medium. “constituted through interpersonal exchanges of body fluids and foods. and psychological events: heterosexual intercourse triggers menstruation.” Puberty. a part of the unknowing. it is both. Studied. let's multiply it. 6 subject-body inhabits a liminal world of other subject-bodies. pp. Consider Maurice MerleauPonty's (1962) phenomenological solution to the mind-body dualism: the body is neither subject nor object. the ————————————— Even Claude Lévi-Strauss (1949) agreed that while women may be treated like objects-“signs”-they are also fully sentient human beings who use signs themselves.” Encrypted by culture. always already “interpellated” (Althusser. An object for others but not yet a subject for herself. In prevailing North American imagery. 664). 604). the embodied body involves other bodies. not social. rather than one or the other. contend anthropologists Beth A. Working the Tension by Multiplying the Body Instead of splitting the body up. 167). a Newyorican poet and psychologist. Such multiplicity is marginal to Eurowestern representation. interpersonal. Morgan (1996). Conklin and Lynn M. controlled.

p. fat. She would mark her skin by the “delicate self-cutting” that relives and masters the threat to psychic existence posed by childhood traumas (Kaplan.inscription of flesh. Trying to redraft her body. If psychoanalytic theory has trafficked in a “one-body psychology” (Rickman. in other words. Santner. an effort curiously incarnating the century-long contradiction between theoretical and clinical psychoanalysis. At the beginning of treatment. maybe one body is always also two or more. career. 1985. on her body. p. AB's cutting gave her life. Pain is a way to feel and so to know one is alive (McDougall. also repellingly female. ————————————— Conception. furnish that “sense of aliveness” which Winnicott (1971. to see the creative side of her self-destruction. nor did any of her love affairs. “There is no meaningful individual body ego without the interface-the holding. p. her body measures had worked overtime both to create a sense of meaning and thereby to keep her sense of realness intact. xxxvii). What helped was the recognition and experience that two of us in two bodies were working together in the same space and time. as well as. and drink. At first. Extending Winnicott's immortal soundbite. In fact. as simultaneously subject and object may be one way to navigate this tension between the theory of an individual mind and a therapy of two (see Shapiro. clinical psychoanalysis has in effect functioned as a two-person field.” 7 and reality (Scarry. is said to occur when enough semen accumulates following many. even though it adumbrates a one-body psychology. 371). in the primal sensuality of being held by a caretaking (m)other. on the basis of its experience of the surface of the body” (p. one-person psychology. p. in turn. Construing the body. For 15 years. Harris (1996a) writes. identity. Arising in tactility. looking. and bone. it is intersubjective—“the mental image of which the Ego of the child makes use during the early phases of its development to represent itself as an Ego containing psychical contents. since her late teens. 1989). AB's life was “desolate. If to cut oneself and not die is to mark one's aliveness by reminding oneself that the skinenvelope (Anzieu. which everywhere endows the mortal bag of guts with structure. she thought.” Her psychic life was lived externally. AB was dwelling in a one-body. or because. the Skin-Ego in fact exists somewhere in the space between embodied persons. 158) called “the self. italics added). “is evidence of a sustained relationship between a man and a woman. 1963. closely sequential acts of sexual intercourse. 1996). blood. 369). 1991. female (and she dreamt once about a flabby older woman somewhere behind her-me. touching encounter of the social other” (p. AB would starve. a twoperson psychology in a one-person bodymind. AB needed to let her one become two until her one could take its own place in the world. in the chair behind the couch). “There is no such thing as an infant. Much as several buildings can occupy the same site in the Rome of the mind. AB needed me to touch her. 278). AB had been trying to make a psychic skin all by herself. a disjuncture we may now be set to evaluate and remedy. 1996).” but only a baby in an environment mediated by the maternal object (Khan 1958. Anzieu's (1989) idea of the Skin-Ego illuminates both AB's dilemma and her solution. but Touch-Ego might be a better appellation. Her body was a bad thing: it was. 40. 1989) works. to be both the family who did not hold and the therapist who did. Anzieu (1989) called it the Skin-Ego.” Unfocused. of course. paradoxically. she could not cohere work life. Certainly there were times when I . or gorge and vomit. The Skin-Ego surprisingly echoes Merleau-Ponty's (1962) subject/object body. I was to contain images of her health and illness both. Pregnancy. whether gay or straight. cited in Laplanche and Pontalis.

Klein et al. embodiment. My holding failed her quite concretely too: although I noticed her anorexia very quickly. Ogden (1994) describes how analysts use “reverie” to reflect not only on fantasies but also on corporeal sensations and imagery in order to intuit a patient's unconscious process (Reis. she needed me to let her do so. is immensely valuable in limning countertransference embodiment. Women as analysts incarnate the clinical commonplace that analysts use their bodies when treating psyches. I use the bathroom spray. she had to risk all in order to (re)gain a sense of her own wish to live. Like an automaton. “As far as she's concerned. and I hope she has therefore deduced that I have in fact never gone to the bathroom. he's noticed the odor behind the camouflage. eliminating what they cannot abide by making their analysts both concretize and experience it. like the neighbors who heard her nightly screaming. at the close of her analysis. Harris. 1996a). How many sessions would begin with my silent prayer that she stop yelling at me as though I were the cause of her persisting anguish. integrated. I follow the rules. Like the patients described by Masud Khan (1979) and Michael Eigen (1993) who seclude themselves for long periods. the Touch-Ego: recall AB who both “touched” me and got “under my skin. I was long blind to her alcoholism. and that excrement has nothing at all to do with my life on any level whatsoever” (p.” Marcelle Clements (1985) wryly confides. I am alone in the office.” It is early morning. 1997) because it signifies at once interpersonal process. individual psycho-dynamics. 1999. and unconscious communication.. I ask what this experience is like for him. Anality. I haven't gone to the bathroom in the three years she's known me. That she could survive my failure. arrives. she the self for whom it was a subject. But she did not need me to try to stop her. I use the toilet.. Looking back. like transference. two-person thought and practice (Sands. I had a very rich meal the night before. “Smelling your shit is comforting. She had needed me. Only recently . probing their embodiment (Shapiro. countertransference. The language used to describe it can evoke the corporeality of intersubjectivity.incarnated the parents who held neither physically nor psychically. AB needed me both to hold her in mind and to let her go to the mindless edge of mad embodiment. testified to our mutual psychic sturdiness. Patients employ the bodied analyst as both dumping ground and sounding board. Analysts. Initially a signature of Klein's (1950. For much of the analysis. 1952) one-person psychology. Excretory embarrassment perfumes the psychoanalytic air. as a bodily state of mind that bleeds into intersubjectivity (Schore. Davies. he adds. JG. 1996). registers somatically (e. AB said she had not only needed to fall apart. In fact. A smell lingers. I freeze. and I her disappointment in me. my first patient. 1994. that is. This allowance communicated what she unconsciously wanted me to imagine and what in fact I did: an image of her as separate. 389). Projective identification. He has noticed the spray. I was the Skin-Ego she needed to develop for herself through the analytic Touch-Ego. 69). intact.” he replies with a private smile. failing either to work or to carry out their social lives. 1996.g. but see Reis's.” I am humiliated. critique). 1999. and Relationality The nearly simultaneous entrance of women. I was the other for whom her body was an object. deepen the surface they provide for patients to inscribe their interiority. it now emblematizes relational. and alive. p. to notice the pale scars cut into her olive skin. Who is easy with shit in the analytic office? “I won't talk to my therapist about shit. he says. “It makes me feel close to you. and the person of the analyst on the psychoanalytic stage is no accident. Even Analysts Have Bodies: Projective Identification.

which had bloomed almost instantly when we began working together nine years before. My experience of shame. as bodies will do. complied with his need that I temporarily hold all he hated in himself until he felt sufficiently uncontaminated and undamaged and therefore resilient enough to take it back. face to face. for him. A clinically more enlightening move locates shaming in a relational matrix. Now the private body that excites disgust and may not go out in public had been caught. my body (like his mother's and wife's) contained both extraordinary hope and crushing disappointment. 1991). for the moment. How hard it is to have an analyst with a body. It is fair to speculate that. as the omnipotent (m)other.(with the increase of women in the field) are analysts studying how they use their physicality in psychotherapy (see. we felt deeply connected and shared periods of profound anger and difficulty. as bodies betray everyone. from which he could flee only by attacking me. Dimen. the erogenous zones are exciting not in themselves but in the unconscious context in which they matter (Fairbairn. 1989). Fools rush in. Josephs. and. bereft of her mind (Rosenfeld.g. forced a countertransference enactment (Davies. as well as with my own helplessness. Aron and Anderson. 1994). Cut off from the good body and saddled with the bad. the analyst embedded in her body and. the woman. In an atmosphere thick with projections and. 1954). and hence the anal stage. my job. lingering like footnotes at the bottom of the page to mark the cost of civilization. and his shaming of me.. That my failure was his triumph depended.” as he put it. the mouth is erotic because it channels not libido but relatedness: it's great to get together with mother and get fed. a “great burden. I felt not only my own but JG's shame was part and parcel of our relationship. in this clinical drama. after all these years. None. Our enactment epitomized our power struggle over shame: an unconscious demand on his part and a conscious acquiescence coupled with an unconscious refusal on mine. and our joint patriarchal heritage. JG could be the man whose body could be counted on to stay in control. For JG. writes of personal odors. The classical proposition that shame is developmentally connected with matters of toilet training. A female analyst and a male patient. According to current argument. With me. Shame aromatized the room that morning. Shapiro. 1996. however. one that I carried with uneasy delight. 1953). 1987. the patient needing relief not of body but of mind. power struggles. the atmosphere of humiliation that he has always inhabited. by embodying. is sufficiently familiar (Erikson. 1977). nurturance and aggression (Benjamin. psychosexual stages are not just corporeal but also interpersonal moments (Sullivan. A horrifying and fascinating moment. in the peculiar public privacy of the analytic office. 1988. I was. 1998). but I had resisted probing my ambivalence until my body took over. an excitement symbolized by the breast (Klein. in the transference. JG fell into anxiety. This humiliating anal encounter between JG and me enacted the best and the worst about our relationship. middle-aged. an anxietyridden. 1950). the parent whose job it is to contain and process the child's intolerable affects (Bion. To take the example most famous among clinicians. The intensity of this moment of therapeutic impasse suited perfectly the primal quality of our intimacy. That. all the goodness in the world and all the badness. naked. 1994). but for me too. that I dispel. Reacting to JG's rageful and assaultive suffering. I would feel a combustible and paralyzing mix of seemingly bottomless fury and empathy. finally. overflowing. processing and therefore identified with the abject (Grosz. e. by the same token. mingling there with the love and hate that marked our relationship. I was fed up with his sense that nothing was ever good enough. . white. bodily state of mind to which a solution had unexpectedly presented itself-my body's serendipitous betrayal of me. on patriarchy and its gendered splitting of emotional labor between mind and body. As the analyst whose job it is to bear the patient's projective identifications. 1975).

for example—is “an effect of power” (Butler. or only spiritual and never earthly. in the play of power. 115). Culture. there was an additional exchange. so different from Marie Cardinal's (1983). psychoanalyst. In contrast to. seemingly self-evident-the body as only biological and never psychological. pierced ears and noses and earlobes and lips. through acts performed on the genitals to beautify. and student. representational. and sex the body. 1936). Bodies are inscribed with ideas and values that announce to self and other what a person is and is to be. rhythm. elected to cut her clitoris to fit theoretical fashion. Her sad and slightly bizarre story. children's knowledge of their bodies also always passes through the sieve of culture. Domination. 1993. we might analyze the possibility that on that dreadful morning we also enacted a conventional heterosexual split: he as a man shouldered the aggression that I as a woman could not sustain in my effort to nurture his narcissism and contain his abjection. 1976. I see now. 1925. say. sanitize. goes Bourdieu's (1977) theory of power and ideology. patient and benefactress of Freud. JG could expel into me the narcissistically wounded and castrated boy who had rectal surgery three times before puberty. Even physicality. It draws on a matrix of assorted claims to truth that are established and reproduced by disciplinary institutions. Power slinks in on semiosis. the greater its effect. 1989). each of which has a lot to say about the body. posture and gait (Mauss. and its adventures both psychoanalytical and political. allows us to begin pulling together the many and varied threads of which this essay is woven: psychic reality and embodiment.During those few minutes in which my messy (female) embodiment became the center of our attention. power enters psyche and intimacy through diverse arteries that convey social meaning. 90). But perhaps. JG could be strong and I could be weak. Most obviously. the tone. Indeed. it would have been hard to say whether her act was a strike for or against freedom. Ehrenreich. whose mother's rages terrorized the family. Psychic and Otherwise If “the ‘book’ from which the children learn their vision of the world is read with the body” (Bourdieu. whose father suffered bouts of depression. p. as both object for others and subject for oneself. 1992. Not only practices of. The clitoris. is shot through with power. the circumcisions and clitoridectomies found here and there in human history. Consider the butt lifts and hair implants. not only the family but also the “impossible professions”—education. its doubled position as object for others and subject for oneself. the body is often a route to the mind. in which the enemy is clear. if JG ever returns from the hiatus he took two years later. bewildered. but resistances to. he the mocking adult and I the shamed child. which. Gone was the disappointed. p. and communicative capability. he the male and I the female. p. government. When Princess Marie Bonaparte. symbolic domination “is something you absorb like air … it is every where and nowhere” (Bourdieu and Eagleton. Erased was the humiliated 12-year-old who agreed with his father's dismissal of his pubertal anxiety as girlish. Think of. illustrates this décalage. whether acquired in duels by 19th-century German noblemen or created in puberty rituals for Nuer boys and girls. symbolic domination take advantage of the body's ambiguity. say. which is why. Perhaps. the more nonverbal the symbolic. and psychoanalysis (Freud. 1977. Clitoridectomies. sexuality . has great symbolic. and whose twin sisters were born shortly after his first surgery. for example. facial scars. power becomes internal through sex. and prosody animating the primal experience of mothering (Kristeva. Silently. however. 1983). 2). military discipline. Foucault. impresses the psyche at the level of the body. For the moment. and shamed six-year-old whose beautiful mother repulsed his amorous advances.

a legacy that. (heterosexual) male desire. 1992. But do recall that Freud's anatomical map inscribes things female on that famous “dark continent. of course. penis-invagina orgasm. 90). 170. 1992). 1982) to dissociate incompatible truths (Davies and Frawley. 1920. p. sought him out to discuss clitoral excision among his people. psychic reality held sway for everyone but her. the perfect orgasm never came (Bertin. p. as feminists have been pointing out since 1970. 1980. 1982. As Bonaparte (1953) knew.9 In classical psychoanalytic theory as well the culture in which it grew. genital anatomy turned out to be erotic destiny for others. 150). 407). in her own view. she held that women are innately bisexual. The sadism in Freud's dichotomy between the immature clitoral orgasm versus the mature vaginal orgasm is. To her despair. Disposed perhaps by trauma (Bertin. Oedipally rebelling—Freud had tried to dissuade her-Bonaparte turned to surgery. circulating by virtue of station and intelligence among political and cultural elites.and gender in psychoanalytic thought. until practically yesterday. 340). Freud . 1982. p. clitoral psychopolitics connects psychoanalysis and international politics. 1982. In the matter of orgasm. a paternal transference to Freud (Appignanesi and Forrester. Bonaparte was nevertheless. Bonaparte. Appignanesi and Forrester. 1968). In the 1930s. that the clitoris situates both masculinity and female eroticism. received hardly any attention at all. p. is a form of symbolic domination. and president. 171). There is no need to rehearse the feminist critique. xiv) inferiorizes the clitoris relative to both penis and vagina. old news (Koedt. possibly. she believed. beyond emphasizing that this psychic and cultural clitoridectomy (Bonaparte. representing “a real stigma of bisexuality” (1953. psychic process and cultural politics. and female desire is his servant. is heir. Bonaparte risked a masochistic sexual odyssey that enacted psychoanalysis' century-long ambivalence about the body. If psychoneurosis caused sexual difficulty for some women. 337). 1995. Bonaparte's theory of her sexual unhappiness foundered on psychoanalysis' unsolved mind-body problem. pp. When one Professor J. p. a fortuitous but not accidental historical conjuncture. not to mention the penis. Certainly the “fetishized” clitoris (Traub. 1953. p. and that vaginal orgasm in heterosexual intercourse is the most desirable form of climax. the Kikuyu (Bertin. Appignanesi and Forrester. An independent-minded sexual intellectual. pp. then anthropologist Bronislav Malinowski's student and later Kenyan anticolonialist. pp. “frigid” (Bertin. p. Genital operations are no strangers to Western medicine (Freud. More exactly. 1992. “Some turn-of-the-century European and American doctors used clitoridectomy as a cure for masturbation and so-called nymphomania” (Walley. That the clitoris is so often an article of dogma would be funny if it were not tragic. Having mapped women onto the terrain of the Other. Far-fetched though it may seem. she enjoyed clitoral sensation and orgasm but mourned simultaneous. Dramatizing this odd coupling are Bonaparte's meetings with jomo Kenyatta. 1997. Halban claimed a surgical cure for anorgasmia. 191-2). Instead. she agreed on libido's masculinity but firmly disagreed that vaginal life depended on clitoral death. Bonaparte hired him—twice—to move her clitoris nearer her vaginal aperture so that penile thrusting might stimulate them simultaneously. In. like all disciplines. et Saadawi. a colonialist model if ever there was one. In tall women like herself. “largish gaps” between clitoris and vaginal opening “were not … favourable to normal transference of” sensation from clitoris to vagina.8 a European colonialist epithet for Africa that buries in femininity another body matter—the unconscious and institutional racism to which psychoanalysis. More interesting is the way the various excisions of this little bit of flesh fuse feminists with colonial iconography. 181. prime minister. 1994). 153-165. and her research seemed to confirm. is the governor of sexuality.

as she herself was. 1992. So it might further the international conversation to note the dilemma and splits created by the paradoxical. cited in Apter. ambiguous body. cries Nawal et Saadawi (1980). this sacred ritual surgery makes their daughters both sexually pure and marriageable (Walley. 9 There are several recent attempts to remedy this lacuna. the mortification of their sexual flesh not only violates their bodily integrity. of the post to which he had named her. and their distribution. It should be called what it is: criminal” (New York Times.html . Tate (1996). The clitoris attracts patriarchal prurience because it is a route to psychic reality. 51). as he confessed in a 1928 letter to protégé and biographer Ernest Jones. Gilman. see also Toubia. is no longer visible. At stake are crucial debates: competing ideas of bodily integrity. to hearts and minds as well as sex. against another about the need for multiplicity in understanding and setting feminism's agendas. 8 Both mind and body are at stake here. intersubjective bodymind caught in cultural and international hierarchies: alternatingly legal. Director of Public Health. Negotiating the Scylla of relativism and the Charybdis of colonialism. Friends and foes of clitoral excision range from mothers and daughters to politicians. p. 1997). and some of the Gulf states” (p. The politics are delicate. those girls and mothers who do speak out report the horror of the assault and the danger and punishment of protesting. Literally and symbolically. How do you draw the line between routine care of the body and domination? between consent and submission? between violation and selfexpression? Female Genital Mutilation (FGM'10—a label already drenched in moral outrage) raises these questions in explosive terms. By the same token. 1993. Publicly embarrassed by et Saadawi's polemic. it is hardly a stretch to interpret that burning log as a penis: the real reason the clitoris must yield its excitement is not to pleasure the vagina but to ensure a warm welcome for the penis. and Walton (1995). While Laqueur (1990) coolly deems this metaphor “less than illuminating” (p. For many Third World women. 33) are ritually cut at age seven. but hobbles them as citizens of country and world by deforming their capacity for autonomous thought. The clitoris' job is to “transmit” its excitement to the vagina. a physician. “just as … pine shavings can be kindled in order to set a log of harder wood on fire” (p.hollyfeld. (1993). First World feminists are challenged to hold plural identifications while taking a stance on the practice itself. and moral. And at the United Nations. the rights of children and who defines them. cultural. 1999. girls “in Egypt. Doane. The controversy kindles anguished argument because it pits one central tenet of Western enlightenment feminism. When. women's choice and voice. Alice Walker (1992) insists. See Abel (1990). control over one's body. Hillary Clinton charged: “It is no longer acceptable to say that the abuse and mistreatment of women is cultural. March 5. ————————————— 10 See the website: www. ix). Yemen. is how he regarded the adult woman's sexual life (Gay 1988).(1905) fantasized about that which. Currently there is no way out of the contradictions of the ambiguous. but also asked to complexify (Spivak. and Schroeder. Western feminists have been advised to butt out (el Saadawi 1980. 235). Anwar Sadat stripped her. (1991). clitoral embodiment underwrites the self's place in psychic and cultural representation. object for others and subject for oneself. in psychoanalytic terms. what is for some the routine care of the female body is for others symbolic domination-and here let us not forget breast implants. 1994). 221). ————————————— Which. the Sudan. the clitoris embodies sovereignty. bedarkened.

and language. el Saadawi's Egypt or 1970s feminism. he explained further: “Tactile illusion is indeed odd. In email to me. “never quite complete. or urethra and anus. missed an excellent opportunity to see that the penis' unpredictability “make[s] it into a dialectician par excellence. With deep irony and gratitude. The hot sperm … was extraordinary to feel. was very realas was the sometime lifting of my hand by my erection even when my . the clitoris rebels against the phallus. 1976) but between bodies and minds. multiple in its meanings. While the penis. Talk about Rorschachs. becomes rather like a wild animal on the outskirts of civilization.” says Laqueur (1990). 30). uncertainty. but it is also an idea. the female body. In the reign of the penis. 2). What a perfect example of symbolic domination. 1993. bodily materialization is ongoing. the clitoris occupies the discursive place of multiplicity.” bodies “never quite comply with the norms by which their materialization is impelled” (Butler. the symbol of the permanently erect penis.” does not spurt semen. I have been arguing. might well symbolize multiplicity. he writes in his autobiographical novel of his “astral ejaculations”: he knows that his penis. its easy responsiveness to touch makes it difficult to domesticate for reproductive. or the Politics of Multiple Orgasm Rebel with a Cause The body. the social order. 20 years after his injury. “On the one hand. the clitoris comes in last. As an idea. How else to understand why Lacan attended so little to “the everyday uncertainties that beset the male member?” (Bowie. excretory. recovered for a period of 10 years a sense of genital excitement and gratification. Perhaps it is the clitoris' excess that has had to be excised. Buddha'S Body. of the Freudian fort/da” (p. a quadriplegic man. 240). which for Lacanians represents desire. Lacan. and sexual capacities. is versatile. In psychoanalytic iconography. it is the one whose sole function is erotic.d. whether in Freud's Vienna or Kenyatta's Kenya. Shoved to the margins of society. Unlike vagina and penis. “the clitoris is the organ of sexual pleasure in women. summation of his thoughts on sexuality: the clitoris appears only as a rather dubious absence from the list of erogenous zones attributed to girls (pp. 125). in all of its modes. p. Yet when it comes to psychosexual anatomy as viewed by the American dean of contemporary classical psychoanalysis. On the other. It took me very much by surprise.Freud's Body. Recall its links. 23. variously. of patriarchy using the body to sell itself as the only version of sanity. Through the use of cocaine. in its prosaic vicissitudes. clasped by his “clawed left hand's index finger and thumb. heterosexual intercourse” (p. Sex is variously sited not only on the body (Foucault. flexible in its capacities. which combine. In a manner approaching transcendence. … I would have liked to be hooked up to sensors to see if any of the changes I felt were objectively measurable. to autonomy and rebellion. isn't it? In the classically sexual body of psychoanalysis. n. with its savage little clitoris. Look at its fate in Otto Kernberg's (1990). 1990). reproductive. In contrast. the clitoris begins to seem like an unruly citizen and therefore has to be put in its place. a fine example. In the décalage between object for others and subject for oneself. but he feels as if it does (Caldwell. genitally traumatized persons manifest this erotic versatility. a nexus of signifying opportunities. The body. Bowie notes. I think that the clitoris is as protean as the body itself. the clitoris is the one dedicated sex organ. p. that representational job happily belongs to the clitoris. Odd. may be a fact. and democracy. 2). I have said.

261): “It feels like electric shock going around my body. 1990). the Buddhist body. pp.11 Remember its history: the seat of orgasm and fertility until 1905 (Laqueur.” Multiple orgasms. indeed. however.penis wasn't tumescing. That. Perry. may yield a clue. Clitoral orgasm.” A third confided.” said one. pharaonic form of clitoridectomy. Even penile orgasm. Mark Epstein (1995) ————————————— . was officially declared a myth in 1970-a fabulously emancipatory bit of feminist doctrine that may nevertheless require revision in the light of history and experience-some vaginas keep right on going and going and … One More Rorschach Response If the clitoris rebels against the phallus. and Beverly Whipple (1982) identify an orgasmic continuum for women. one who has orgasms and the other who does not. even Freud. and I have a feeling of great joy. move over. They propose. for men. 85-86.” In a chapter praised by an otherwise critical Ruth Hubbard (1999). found among Sudanese women who. a parallel continuum for men: “orgasm without semen expulsion. step aside.” Oddly. the creature of the penis after that. it narrates competing social forces. and thereby dominating women. p. even those with penile amputation (Money.” and “nonejaculatory emission. even though they had received the most extreme. see also Hoodfar. … It is a very sweet feeling that spreads and it takes hold of my entire body. to come. And even though vaginal orgasm. There is more than one way for women. Without dismissing the trauma of genital mutilation. orgasm measured health and maturity makes sense for a body in which sexual need and gratification are modeled on hunger and its satisfaction. I relax all over. 1997. finally.” revealed another. by arguing that there were two orgasms for women. Nor is he alone in his will to psychic transcendence. Regard the sexual pleasure that a strong critic of FGM. clitoris and vagina were equally female or. “I feel shivery … very happy. “It gets very tight in my vagina. Then I feel shocked and cannot move. Is splitting the orgasm. as a matter of fact. move over. p. At the end. I have a tremendous feeling of pleasure and I cannot move at all … for about two minutes. How wonderful. once upon a time. and. “feminine. Hanny Lightfoot-Klein (1989). My vagina contracts strongly. a fifth reported. 293). “I feel as if I have had a shot of morphine. ranging from the classic clitoral or “vulval” orgasm to the uterine or “G-spot” orgasm with many a “blended orgasm” in between. what is the discursive place of orgasm? Perhaps a glance Eastward. for example. Lightfoot-Klein reports several verbatim accounts of heterosexual intercourse (pp.” A fourth: “I tremble all over. a way that psychoanalysis (and even a culture or two) handles the inability to tolerate multiplicity? One could argue that the clitoris is not one but many. at one more response to the Rorschach body. found a way to realize their heterosexual subjectivity. 1961. Natalie Angier (1999. For her. …” He was interested to know of the “phantom orgasms” experienced by quadraplegics and paraplegics. paved the way for the notion that there might be different strokes for different folks. as Harris (1999) points out. to recoup what psychoanalyst Josine Müller (1932) believed: the site of female or any sexuality is never singular. Vaginal orgasm. “My body vibrates all over.” And. and the insignia of the liberated woman in the 70s. as she put it. as well. Suppose.” “typical ejaculatory orgasm. 77-78) both imparts similar data and contrasts two clitoridectomized American women. the psychoanalytically incorrect clitoral and the proper vaginal. in which not only the clitoris but the labia majora and minora are excised and the vaginal orifice all but closed by sutures. one based not on appetite but on breath. Alice Ladas. John D.

physician Galen. Is Buddhist breathing Lacan's desire? Or is mindful breathing a different sort of knowledge? The point is to destabilize. in the 19th century. if rubbed “‘vigorously with a penis. the complexity and paradox that. characterize what feminist philosopher Naomi Scheman (1993. a 16th-century Danish professor of medicine. A self located in its moment. 66). he spoke of “respiratory erogeneity. any longer. Two concluding anecdotes on ————————————— . can the Real never be known or spoken? For Lacan. 37). face-lifted by science and linguistics from the experienced body. p. or … even with a little finger. Good. the one that hungers. as we age into psychoanalysis (itself a discipline of maturity). desire. 1994). affects also spanning the two bodies posed here. 11 lays out the clinical and theoretical consequences. distinguishing recreation from procreation. Finally. “gives the same sort of protection to the throat that the clitoris gives to the uterus” (Laqueur. the anxieties about not being enough are automatically attenuated” (p. “Columbus—not Christopher but Renaldus” (p. Many questions remain: Would such a body be. structure. There is. such as those between masculine and feminine.e. They help us to appreciate. the body is a site not of demand or need but. semen flies swifter than air …’” (Laqueur 1990. indeed. 145). psyche and society. 101). and therefore set up—by Freud—in gladiatorial combat for erotic dominion with the definitively female vagina. He contrasts the Buddhist view: “When awareness is shifted from appetite to breath. of course.12 Pain and pleasure are two such bridges. p. the liberated clitoris. p. us and them. 1999. it “is experienced as an alien entity that has to be kept satisfied … (p. …‘the female yard or prick’” (p. Then. is the body still the site of excess? Or is the body's unspeakability produced by a particular discourse? Is it this sort of discursive construction. the oral clitoris: the uvula. of course. self and other (Schore. 3) has identified as the core modern epistemological problem of identifying and then bridging gaps. which may emblematize the bridge between body and mind. to think of this solitary suggestion taken from the West's Other as a final. so that the child becomes. said second-century A. we come upon affects. of being in the timelessness of the present. the site. 1990. When the body is a hungry body.” the reproductive clitoris from which. is Queen of female pleasure. the site of psychoanalytic space. for example. of the same body-Kaspar Bartholin. the penile clitoris. “a Pandora's box packed not with sorrow but with laughter” (Angier. origin. 92). Resituating the body in relational tension reveals the wrinkles once more. always suggestive of homoeroticism. respectively.Let us note half a dozen clitorides in Euro-American sexual history. which he sometimes defined as the demand for love minus the appetite for satisfaction. which. Then you have. Around the same time. i. Epstein reasons. but the clitoris is “the female penis. the demon clitoris rode into town. not as endlessly longing. It will not do. respectively. the other that breathes. p. 64) announced he had discovered what Traub (1995. produces echoes not only of “going with the flow” but also of free association. 145). connected to its past and sensible of its flow into the future. As Shapiro (1996) observes..D. that characterizes the Real? If so. in Traub's (1995) view. has served the politics of identity by metonymically associating “female bodily orgasms … with an erotic identity …” (p. p. which. simply. either deprived and entitled or engulfed and obliterated. we should register a couple of 20th-century clitorides: on one hand. intimacy? What would measure maturity? Reciprocally. the breath can be a cause of desire. asks Butler (1993). In mindful breathing. on the other hand. 84) dubs the “Renaissance clitoris. pointed out their error: not the womb. and. Entering embodiment. which is. yields either too little or too much food/mother. or symbol of relationship? of sex? How would we want to redraft attachment. 1996). oppositional answer to the psychoanalytic body. the lesbian clitoris. Winnicott's account of the not good-enough mother. of course. female homosexuality. While Galen and everyone following him thought of the uterus as a penis turned inside out-male and female being greater and lesser variants. psychoanalytic conventions of the body iron out contradictory wrinkles in the name of scientific legitimacy. if we start with the body as just breathing. and. tinged with masculinity. mind and body.” and deplored the paucity of its study (cited by Dean. 58).

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