Academic journal article International Journal of Psychoanalysis

Psychoanalysis of Maturescence (Definition, Metapsychology, and Clinical Practice) 1

Academic journal article International Journal of Psychoanalysis

Psychoanalysis of Maturescence (Definition, Metapsychology, and Clinical Practice) 1

Article excerpt

Elements for a definition of maturescence

The maturescent process

This paper builds on the Freudian idea that individuals have a double existence: they are an end in themselves, and they serve a purpose for the species. Following Freud:

The individual does actually carry on a twofold existence: one to serve his own purposes and the other as a link in a chain, which he serves against his will, or at least involuntarily. The individual himself regards sexuality as one of his own ends; whereas from another point of view he is an appendage to his germplasm, at whose disposal he puts his energies in return for a bonus of pleasure. He is the mortal vehicle of a (possibly) immortal substance - like the inheritor of an entailed property, who is only the temporary holder of an state which survives him.

(1914, p. 78).

He also addresses these matters throughout his opus (1915a, 1915b, 1916-1917 [1915-1917], 1920, 1933 [1932]).

The first part of this affirmation ('to serve his own purposes') evinces a principle that diachronically encompasses the entire life cycle, whereas the second part ('a link in a chain') synchronically affects a particular period: that which takes place once the individual can procreate and then once he stops being a link in the chain of genetic transmission.

Maturescence implies that there are specific demands for psychic work that come into play once the individual is no longer necessary for the 'plan' of the species and begins to grow old.

The noun 'maturescence' is appropriate for denoting what is normally referred to as middle age or midlife.3 The word transmits the idea of a transformational process - in this case a transformation toward maturity. It is analogous to the word 'adolescence', which carries the meaning of transformation toward adulthood.4

The metapsychological exegesis of maturescence entails the inextricable linkage between biological and psychological processes that are expressed through drive activity. It is a process that has a starting point and different pathways that account for this transformation.

Psychoanalytic literature on middle age

Much has been written on middle age. In this article I attempt to continue, to deepen, to make more subtle and to diverge from Jaques's (1965) theorizations concerning his concept of the mid-life crisis. I consider maturescence to be much more closely connected to somatic processes and its specific psychic derivations - according to clinical evidence. Maturescence does not seem to be governed according to the notions Jaques formulates in his research on creative processes.

As antecedents to Jaques's work one should mention Erikson's (1951) concept of life crises, and, especially, the work of Bergler (1954), which is less well known, but quite important. Bergler posits a 'revolt' that middle aged men experience and presents it as an unconscious protest against biology. He centers his argumentation around the displacing onto one's mate the superego's processes that come from a fear of not having lived up to an ideal. These processes emerge especially during middle age and characterize the typical mid-life crises.

We must also consider the work Colarusso (1981, 1985, 1990, 1992) has done on the life cycle. In his work Colarusso includes middle age, especially when he addresses the 'developmental tasks' demanded of the aging body, as one of the developmental lines, of course linked to the ones of time limitation and personal death.

Maturescence in the myth of the hero

It is strangely paradoxical that the word 'myth' is often commonly used and understood to mean 'lie' or 'mistake'. I consider this paradoxical because anthropological, linguistic, and psychoanalytic study of myth has demonstrated that they transmit profound, ancestral, and important truths - what is most authentic and true in a particular culture.

Mythical truths are expressed through a process that is equivalent to dream work. …

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