The Etiological Significance of the Infantile Sexuality
Too Long; Didn't ReadNow that we have decided what is to be understood as infantile sexuality, we can follow up the discussion of the theory of the neuroses, which we began in the first lecture and then dropped. We followed the theory of the neuroses up to the point where we ran against Freud’s statement, that the tendency which brings a traumatic event to a pathological activity, is a sexual one. From our foregoing considerations we understand what is meant by a sexual tendency. It is a standing still, a retardation in that process whereby the libido frees itself from the manifestations of the pre-sexual stage.
First of all, we must regard this disturbance as a fixation. The libido, in its transition from the function of nutrition to the sexual function, lingers unduly at certain stages. A disharmony is created, since provisional and, as it were, worn-out activities, persist at a period when they should have been overcome. This formula is applicable to all those infantile characteristics so prevalent among neurotic people that no attentive observer can have overlooked them. In dementia præcox it is so obtrusive that a symptom complex, hebephrenia, derives its name therefrom.
The matter is not ended, however, by saying that the libido lingers in the preliminary stages, for while the libido thus lingers, time does not stand still, and the development of the individual is always proceeding apace. The physical maturation increases the contrast and the disharmony between the persistent infantile manifestations, and the demands of the later age, with its changed conditions of life. In this way the foundation is laid for the dissociation of the personality, and thereby to that conflict which is the real basis of the neuroses. The more the libido is in arrears in practice, the more intense will be the conflict. The traumatic or pathogenic moment is the one which serves best to make this conflict manifest. As Freud showed in his earlier works, one can easily imagine a neurosis arising in this way.
46This conception fitted in rather well with the views of Janet, who ascribed neurosis to a certain defect. From this point of view the neurosis could be regarded as a product of retardation in the development of affectivity; and I can easily imagine that this conception must seem selfevident to every one who is inclined to derive the neuroses more or less directly from heredity or congenital degeneration.