Sexuality’s confinement in a function of reproduction or pleasure
Freud was probably one of the main architects of the image we have of sexuality today. Sexual urges would according to him have two functions: a reproductive function and for most of them, a function of pleasure. May 68 added his touch to this representation under the sign of a release of pleasure.
Yet no drive is aimed exclusively at pleasure. Eating a good steak certainly provides an intense pleasure. But the appetite that entices us to eat fills a fundamental biological function: to provide the body the protein it needs and ensure our survival. The same pattern applies to all drives. The mother breastfeeding her baby experiences an erotic pleasure: but the purpose of breastfeeding is the child survival and through him of the species.
The completion of every drive lies beyond mere pleasure. This is a function of motivation and learning. It involves the brain centers that crystallize reward behavior like during all conditioning. The individual keeps a positive memory of pleasant situations and is inclined to repeat them without having to grope and fumble as in the first test. The process is both conscious and unconscious. With hindsight, conscious memory of pleasures fades, and the search for the same situation gets largely automatic.
The displeasure is the opposite function: as an experienced unpleasant situation is listed by the centers of punishment and labeled as to be avoided. After a few repetitions, sometimes after a single experience, the impulses that led to this situation will be inhibited or channeled into other direction, without even the individual has to think about it. Thus the brain centers of reward / punishment make sure of the future adult’s psychic structure. The individual will look for situations marked by the experience of pleasure, so they must have utility in terms of survival of the individual or species.
Indeed, the laws of evolution necessarily associated pleased to helpful behaviors. An animal experiencing pleasure in a harmful situation which gets the tendency to seek them, starts at a disadvantage. Faced with harsh competition from the natural world, it is less likely to survive and reproduce. So can we guarantee that pleasure marks a priori, beneficial behaviors.
Now, a drive solely aimed at pleasure would bring about losses of time and unnecessary dangers. Pleasure in itself does not guarantee here benefits in survival perspectives. Such a drive has every chance of being eliminated. We can logically expect that sexual impulses that don’t relate to reproduction, have another useful function beyond pleasure.
The question then is: what is it? The experiment conducted in the context of Evolutionary Ecopsychology showed that this function relates to the extrasensory. Freud denied the reality of paranormal phenomena. There it was not possible to assign a purpose of this order to erotic impulses. Hence his peremptory assertion that “polymorphic” impulses were purely hedonistic in their goal. The whole rationalist West, unable to refer to a transcendent dimension, was engulfed in the same epistemological shortcoming.
The consequences of this concealment is immeasurable: it justifies all kinds of sexual prohibitions, often unrealistic, that would not be conceivable if we were aware of the transcendent function of physical contact. It causes, in addition to guilt related to these prohibitions, an unconscious guilt of primary, as contacts dedicated solely to pleasure are intuitively felt as against nature. It supplies a whole discourse about sexuality because it engenders a deep and inexplicable frustration, not counting the many relational conflicts.
Moreover, such pleasure fixed desire on undesirable situations, such crystallizing the mirage of eternal couple or the first sexual intercourse, the source of many disappointments and suffering for new candidates. The helplessness reactions are attributed to a variety of physiological or psychological causes, although they are often a defensive reaction against unnatural behavior etc.
Psychoanalysis was not only limited in its therapeutic efficacy by this initial error, leaving patients to build a false image of their psychosexual structures, but it is also an accomplice of a situation against nature resulting in the endemic neurosis, an increase in aggression, the condemnation of homosexuality by rapid population growth and the loss of access to the transcendent dimension.
We understand the strength that drives the enemies of Freudianism: the latter, without necessarily being able to put in words, feel the misunderstanding and heavy sequelae. Psychoanalysis can’t not claim to scientific status, because it is based on an assumption contrary to reality and common sense.
May 68 was certainly a collective unconscious attempt to find this higher dimension through love and overcome guilt and generalized aggressiveness (change your mind, be yourself, make love not war). The confusion between extrasensory perception and hallucinatory states has unfortunately caused its failure, up to widely spread popular current contempt we feel for babacool style. A proper positioning of psychoanalysis would probably have avoided the impasse. Perhaps it is the Evolutionary Ecopsychology to correct the shoot…