New sexualities? A psychoanalytic perspective
The Symposium of the Madrid Psychoanalytic Association (APM) held in Madrid in the Hotel Puerta de América from the 23rd to the 24th of November, 2014.
The subject of the APM Symposium this year was if current manifestations of sexuality are truly new or are they simply variations of the same sexuality that has always existed.
There were two major panelists: Juan Francisco Artaloytia is a psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, Full Member of the APM, who works in Bilboa; Martina Burdet is a psychologist, psychoanalyst, Training Analyst at the APM, who works in Madrid.
The most interesting ideas to come out of the Symposium were how omnipresent sexuality and the ease of access to it in Western societies encourage a state of chronic over-excitement.
From the psychoanalytic point of view, part of the sexual energy that circulates in human beings must be repressed ––in the psychoanalytic sense of the word–– and transformed into energy applied to the achievement of other goals. This is a process we call sublimation: it is the basis of the creative capacity and the culture developed by human beings.
However, if sexuality is constantly stimulated in its crudest manifestations, as so often happens in the West, or if access to that crudeness is so easy, as it is through the internet, sexuality erupts excessively into consciousness and disturbs the functioning of certain mental capacities that need to be desexualized to function properly.
The lack of boundaries and current sexual permissiveness add to the complexity of the situation because, although freedom to do what one pleases sexually is an achievement of democracy, the lack of boundaries tends to confuse individuals and make them lose a solid idea of what their place is and where they belong. With greater freedom comes greater fragility. If everything is possible, and in every which way, it is more difficult to develop one thing in depth. Borderline pathology, where impulse control difficulties and the disorganization of higher mental functioning can be observed, is increasingly frequent in psychoanalyst’s offices.
With respect to current manifestations of sexuality, it is possible that certain aspects of sexuality are more visible due to existing social tolerance but they are only variations of the polymorphous nature of infantile sexuality, which is very familiar to psychoanalysts, and can express itself in the most diverse and creative ways in an adult.