In today’s societal context, current treatment and its violence raises questions about the role of the interpretative procedure in analysis. The dream of a pure and timeless act associated with the esthetic abstraction of psychoanalysis is confronted with the need for a way of representing that can “makes do with” the tangle of the symptom. One must follow its strands one by one, in order to detect their imaginary, real and symbolic traces and find out what is holding them together.
Adolescence, 2020, 38, 2, 507-519.
The treatment of an adolescent patient who recalled having been sexually abused in childhood by her father is described. In the course of treatment, various doubts were raised in the analyst’s mind about the truth of this memory.
As the analysis progressed, the analyst felt that the patient’s responses to interpretations were signs of the presence of a delusional structure. When the patient felt that the analyst doubted her memory, or was not on her side, she angrily and vengefully broke off her treatment. She remains a very vulnerable young woman.
The delusional structure contained the patient’s sexual need to destroy the male’s potency as a defense against her longing for the oedipal mother who, in reality, had left the patient for a new husband.
The progressive disintegration in our modern societies of family systems and of the prohibition of incest allows us a theoretical step. If, outside of any family relationship, this double erasure has brought out the sexual crime as such – that is, the sexual abuse “ between the adults and the child ” (Ferenczi), this could be the sign the interdict did at all times try to contain – without being completely able to do so – the polymorphous and unbound sexuality present not only in the infant but in the infantile unconscious of the adult.
In our encounters with a certain number of adolescents who commit sexual abuse, we have observed the absence of feelings associated with these acts, while they show no sign of disassociation or deficit. However, this lack or remorse can be considered as a flaw in adolescent subjectivation, resulting from the omnipresence of an archaic superego figure. The primordial maternal imago constituting this figure is neither integrated, nor put into internal conflict, but projected onto the object rendered “ indifferent ” to serve as an outlet for drive excitation. The splitting of the ego is not enough to assure a minimal distinction between “ good and bad object ” and introduces a confusion which results in the criminal act. The emergence of a transferential guilt may be the consequence of restarting the associative process in the treatment.
Following the extended analysis carried out previously in Talk to her, Pedro Almodovar has furthered the expression of his fraternal fantasies, offering for the first time in The bad education some concrete and autobiographical elements of their origins. He finally gives a powerful place to the male phallic characters and manages to eliminate the female ones almost completely.
Sexual abuse in the family setting of some adolescent authors seems to demonstrate a problem in distinguishing what there is of femininity in the maternal object. Here we try to study this factor specifically :
– The act corresponds to a “ release ” of the protection ensured by the maternal imago and/or a higher bid to appropriate the adolescent’s body or mind as an enjoying or distressing object.
– The act responds to a hole in symbolic ideas defined by the law, this hole concerns the “ biological rock ” of castration, of which sexual difference is a calling signal.