Academic journal article International Journal of Psychoanalysis

'A Father Is Being Beaten': Constructions in the Analysis of Some Male Patients1

Academic journal article International Journal of Psychoanalysis

'A Father Is Being Beaten': Constructions in the Analysis of Some Male Patients1

Article excerpt

I will suggest that the phantasy of 'a father is being beaten' and its transformations emerges for certain male patients as a result of the work of analysis and becomes a potential appropriation of the (symbolic) father. The symbolic beating of the father takes place at the threshold between an anal-sadistic organization and the oedipal situation. The phantasy of the 'father being beaten' does not necessarily mean that it is the father who is explicitly being beaten. It is a construction derived from the free associations and dreams, in the analytic encounter, reached through the work of interpretation. Detailed material of sessions of the five times a week analysis of one of my patients will be presented. This will be contrasted with material from four other analyses of male patients where the 'father being beaten' phantasy was not achieved. The common feature in all these other configurations is a foreclosure in the relationship to the father and a lack of an internalization of the paternal function as a symbolic capacity. It is my suggestion that this absence of the father in its symbolic function is then sexualized in a fusion between life and death drives. A final contrasting example is derived from Karl Abraham's classic paper detailing the analysis of a patient where one can interpret a dream as expressing 'a father is being beaten' phantasy; however the dream's repetitive nature and its links with a current dream in the analysis points out to a lack of differentiation between the sexes and an anal-sadistic organization.

Keywords: après-coup, beating phantasies, constructions, Oedipus complex, paternal function, primal phantasies, primal scene, superego

This paper examines a phantasy that emerges in the analysis of some male patients as a result of the work of the transference. I will suggest that the phantasy 'a father is being beaten' becomes an important achievement in the analysis of some men, as an expression of the constitution of their sexual choice and masculine identification; it is through the construction of this phantasy in the vicissitudes of the transference that these patients are able to elaborate symbolically their aggression towards their fathers, and find their own sense of time in the chain of generations.

"In the beginning was the deed!" These are Freud's concluding words in Totem and Taboo (Freud, 1912-13). Freud tells us the story of the primordial father who was an all-powerful tyrant who owned all the women. One day the brothers united and killed and ate the father in an attempt to bring his power to an end. The theme of the killing of the father permeates Freud's writings. He oscillated between different types of interpretations, viewing it, on the one hand, as a real event that took place in the distant past and was then repressed, and, on the other hand, regarding the 'event' as a myth. A paradox is thus presented: the killing of the father is, in Freud's view, a requirement for the creation of the social order which, from then on, prohibits all killings (Goldelier 1996). The father, however, has to be killed metaphorically only, as the 'elimination' of the father lies at the origin of so many psychopathologies ranging from violence to the psychoses and perversions.

The primordial father, according to Lacan, is the father before the incest taboo, before the appearance of the law, of social structures and of culture (Lacan, 2005). It is this violent and incestuous father who is killed in the founding myth. Already in 1897 Freud had written in a letter to Fliess (in Masson, 1985) about his surprise that, in all of his cases, the father should be accused of perversion, not even excluding his own father. Through the analysis of his own dreams, however, Freud identified the unconscious nature of the universal, forbidden desires contained in his and his patients' accounts. The story of the murder of the father would be transmitted in the unconscious life of each individual (Freud, 1939). …

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