A General Introduction to Psychoanalysis

By Sigmund Freud | Go to book overview

TWENTY-FIRST LECTURE

GENERAL THEORY OF THE NEUROSES

Development of the Libido and Sexual Organizations

AM under the impression that I did not succeed in convincing you of the significance of perversions for our conception of sexuality. I should therefore like to clarify and add as much as I can.

It was not only perversions that necessitated an alteration of our conception of sexuality, which aroused such vehement contradiction. The study of infantile sexuality did a great deal more along that line, and its close correspondence to the perversions became decisive for us. But the origin of the expressions of infantile sexuality, unmistakable as they are in later years of childhood, seem to be lost in obscurity. Those who disregard the history of evolution and analytic coherence, will dispute the potency of the sexual factor and will infer the agency of generalized forces. Do not forget that as yet we have no generally acknowledged criterion for identifying the sexual nature of an occurrence, unless we assume that we can find it in a relation to the functions of reproduction, and this we must reject as too narrow. The biological criteria, such as the periodicities of twenty-three and twenty-eight days, suggested by W. Fliess, are by no means established; the specific chemical nature which we can possibly assume for sexual occurrences is still to be discovered. The sexual perversions of adults, on the other hand, are tangible and unambiguous. As their generally accepted nomenclature shows, they are undoubtedly sexual in character; whether we designate them as signs of degeneration, or otherwise, no one has yet had the courage to place them outside the phenomena of sex. They alone justify the assertion that sexuality and reproduction are not coincident, for it is clear that all of them disavow the goal of reproduction.

This brings me to an interesting parallel. While "conscious" and "psychic" were generally considered to be identical, we

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