Friday, January 22, 2010

Battle of the Sexes - vi

According to Freud girls' superego is never fully developed and they stay locked into the 'Electra Complex'. Because of this women are never as civilized or cultured as men. Very sexist. But a new study says women's sexuality is not as evolved as that of men.

Men's subjective and physiological measures of sexual arousal showed a greater degree of agreement than women's. For the male participants, the subjective ratings more closely matched the physiological readings indicating that men's minds and genitals were in agreement. For the women, however, the responses of the mind and genitals were not as closely matched as men's, suggesting a split between women's bodies and minds.

Via Science Daily

29 comments:

Maju said...

Uh?

That doesn't mean that one is more "evolved" than the other. It is a well known fact that sexuality of women and men is different in some, maybe many, aspects. Men sexuality is in its basics at least very much straightforward and simple: arousal -> orgasm -> satiation.

Women are very much more complex in their sexuality: they can perfectly have several serial orgasms and often orgasms arise more sexual demand instead of satiation, they are not so extremely genital-centered, their genitals are also more complex and diverse in the erogenous zones, etc.

Differences may perfectly be horizontal, not hierarchical. In this case it's very clear.

manju said...

Frankly, as an alternative I would have thought women are more evolved as disagreement between mind and genitals show mind considers many other variables. This one would expect since they are the ones who get pregnant.

However, your talk of multiple orgasm, erogenous zone, complex woman is nothing but mysticism.

manju said...

From the article:
Women exposed to a greater range and number of sexual stimuli -- content and presentation -- were more likely to have stronger agreement between subjective and physiological responses.

They match men in their sexuality with more quality.

Maju said...

Well, ask women or a sexologist (of either sex). Things are the way they are. We are somewhat different and in this matter, we men are more straightforward (simple?)

Whatever the case, Freud as traditional man of the 19th century, could hardly understand women and hence his theories were limited.

He could also understand men only that much. For instance his Oedipus theory is so clearly cultural (and has been falsified for many other cultures, notably hunter-gatherers) that it can hardly be the basis of anything.

However he was indeed a pioneer but I'd rather read his favorite pupil, Wilhelm Reich for whatever that has to do specifically with sexuality (except orgon machines: he lost his mind in that one).

manju said...

Freud surely took drugs to come up with all those theories about 'totem father', 'Oedipus complex', 'Penis envy'. As you said, it certainly liberates your mind and explore other realities(even when they are not real).

Anyway, women don't come across as complex to me. Maybe careful because of the circumstances and economic pressures. Probably, Freud has described the situation of 19th century Europe (Austria) best though analysed it poorly.

"a man of thirty strikes us as youthful, somewhat unformed individual, whom we expect to make powerful use of the possibilities for development opened up to him by analysis. A woman of the same age, however, often frightens us by her psychical rigidity and unchangeability. Her libido has taken up final positions and seems incapable of exchanging them for others."

Maju said...

Freud surely took drugs to come up with all those theories...

He took drugs, for sure: he was a cocaine addict. But that's a different type of drug than the ones we were siscussing in that other post: an stimulant, more similar to tobacco or coffee. Not likely to cause that kind of dream-like states, it's more a work or party drug: it keeps you awake and enhances intelligence and productivity slightly... at a price, of course.

However I think Oedipus is vaguely real in Patriarchal societies (and circumcision its extreme manifestation), just that he was too conservative to understand that the solution is not accepting the rules but tearing them apart.

He gave too much importance to the disciplinary Superego and did not realize the crucial value of the Id, which is not anything but Eros, while the Superego is where Thanatos lies.

Anyway, women don't come across as complex to me.

Less simple in sexual matters clearly, IMO. However this in both genders goes a lot by individuals and even periods within those individuals' lives.

Generalizing is dangerous.

Freud opened some paths. That's about it. He's from more than a century ago... and I'm from a generation that believes that old people know nothing.

manju said...

However this in both genders goes a lot by individuals and even periods within those individuals' lives.

Generalizing is dangerous.


I agree.

I'm from a generation that believes that old people know nothing.
I'm almost certain that they not only knew nothing whatever they understood they interpreted dangerously wrong(Of course, I'm only talking about Indians).

manju said...

He gave too much importance to the disciplinary Superego and did not realize the crucial value of the Id, which is not anything but Eros, while the Superego is where Thanatos lies.

But do you think Superego itself is a valid concept. I think he's influenced by Biblical thought that 'shame' is a knowledge and not basic instincts like Eros and Thanatos. Yes, I agree with his assessment that Eros and Thanatos are both in Id. But 'shame' (nothing to do with covering body) but the one associated with joy and pain. I think there was a recent research where blind sports people showed exultation and pain on their face. If joy and pain are so innate what would be the response to that stimuli? I think it should be shame. I mean you lose to one person and he is celebrating and you feel the shame. Or you caused a pain to other and he's showing the emotion (which I believe is required for certain effect) and you feel the shame for causing that.

Shame can turn into jealousy or guilty feeling but that is at Superego stage, in my opinion.

Similarly, Eros and Thanatos are both natural and dopamine driven. I think Freud is correct in that sense. Though Eros was suppressed (but now liberated in some societies), Thanatos has been suppressed at individual level though at group level it still manifests.

Maju said...

Superego is the social code and in general everything that we don't know instinctively but learn from others. As social beings we have some sort of explicit of implicit rules that vary from society to society and that in any case are not mere instincts.

So yes, I think that Superego is a valid concept (or a similar one like Transactional Analysis' "Parent"). What I don't think is that it should be as important as Freud believed and much less that we have to merely repress the Id, though of course we may need to canalize it through socially acceptable ways (or risk ostracism or even persecution). The edge is held of course by the Ego, assuming a more or less properly developed person.

So I don't think I'm essentially in disagreement with Freud's psychoanalisis in these concepts. I may disagree on how to balance them and how much importance should the Superego and the Id have.

I don't think that there is any Thanatos instinct. Thanatos is pathological or at least elaborate, not natural. Of course Death exists but nothing in our instincts asks for it: it belongs to The Other and hence to the Superego.

I'm not sure I understand with those examples about shame but shame is certainly Superegotic in any case, because it implies a "higher" (social internalized) watcher. It's not substantially different from guilt. I think that the Id would feel maybe compassion (bonobos also show that emotion, even as young) but not shame (bonobos are essentially shameless).

Shame means that you have a feeling of inadequation to social standards and these social standards are more or less the Superego.

Thanatos has been suppressed at individual level though at group level it still manifests.

That's because it's a social phenomenon, not part of the Id but of the Superego (which is built from The Other). The Superego is not always right: in fact it's often some sort of a hereditary curse in fact. Not everything in culture and social values has to be ethically correct... but of course this is largely subjective: a zone where only the mature Ego can rule.

manju said...

I'm doing a second hand reading of Freud. So it's possible that I might have missed finer details.

As I have understood Thanatos is associated with 'aggression' and death. I didn't give much importance to death as I thought its a dichotomy between life (Eros) and death (Thanatos). For humans direct feelings are sexuality and aggression. Why shouldn't humans be naturally aggressive. I think it's common for all animals.

manju said...

Shame means that you have a feeling of inadequation to social standards and these social standards

Not really. Shame can develop even during childhood because of innocent application of either Eros or Thanatos. May be more because of the latter.

Children fight. Because it feels good. Somebody wins and somebody loses. If you lose you may feel shame (jealous). Or sometimes if you hit hard and the other person is in pain(say your own brother) who may feel shame (guilt).

I don't think any social standards could be applied there.

Maju said...

The problem is that I do not just feed from Freud, so for me he's some "ancient" reference but not the real thing. Thanatos means Death in Greek and is one of those "mystical" concepts so typical of Idealism.

Actually Thanatos, unlike Eros ha no existence in Greek mythology: it's Freud's invention. Would I have to discuss rage, I'd rather think of some other Greek deity like Ares (Mars).

For me rage anyhow is a force of Eros like any other emotion. It is a potentially positive force and exists for a reason: because it supports effective life. In fact we know now that sex and violence are not that much detached in our brains: rather messed up instead. Rage serves the purpose of self-affirmation and helps us to face our foes and avoid being bullied.

Of course, like all emotions, understanding and properly, not so much controlling, but managing them, is part of maturing and the formation of a balanced Ego.

Children fight. Because it feels good. Somebody wins and somebody loses. If you lose you may feel shame (jealous). Or sometimes if you hit hardly and the other person is in pain who may feel shame (guilt).

This may vary from individual to individual because it's already "cultural". Even very young kinds are already immersed in a culture, that is initially just a family culture initially.

When you are attacked unjustly you feel rage. When you lose a fight you feel fear... maybe even more rage, but contained by fear. When you see someone in pain you feel empathy (otherwise you are a psychopath).

Shame, guilt, jealousy... are not basic emotions: they are cultural. Children are shameless... even if they may be shy (cautious).

Though I'm generalizing and maybe there are exceptions.

Maju said...

I don't think children fight because it feels good. I could not fight until I was already some 10 years old or so and never felt good about fighting... though the adrenaline hoot sometimes makes you feel strangely calm after a fight.

For me fighting is a matter of rage, which is turned on by abuse (or subjective perception of abuse). Now, why some children are bullies? I really don't know: genes, education for competition or early maladjusted personalities? Can't say.

manju said...

The book I'm referring (Sociological Theory by Bert N. Adams and R.A. Sydie) does mention 'aggression' along with death. Then speaks about aggression. I suppose that is what Freud also meant.

When you are attacked unjustly you feel rage. When you lose a fight you feel fear... maybe even more rage, but contained by fear. When you see someone in pain you feel empathy (otherwise you are a psychopath).

No, rage or aggression comes after one feels shame. Unless you understand the humiliation you won't feel rage. So, shame should be the basic instinct.

Bully and Shy are two ends of the spectrum. I believe it's common to any basic instincts.

adrenaline hoot sometimes makes you feel strangely calm after a fight.
Calmness or feeling good, both I suppose result of dopamine release. When we were small we had this game. Couple of us would chain our hands together and the rest have to detach them. If somebody comes closer to us we would hit them with our free hand and protect our chained hands. I felt good when hitting somebody. However, I felt shame when I hit somebody really hard and his face showed the pain. As children we would play rough games (there were schools in Kerala where in the afternoon recess pupils of two classes go for no hold barred fight) because it used to feel good (dopamine release). However, we were certainly not psychopaths as we felt sorry(shame leading to empathy) if we pained somebody. That's the reason I believe our facial expressions that shows our joy or our pain are important. They appeal to our innate emotions. Shame is one of them.

Since both sex and violence release dopamine, if we can use sex for pleasure why not violence. I mean that could be seen children's fights. Yes, there are bullies and shy boys, just like there are sexual perverts and asexuals. However, these two extremes could be societies constructs(and some genetic) too.

manju said...

Shame, guilt, jealousy... are not basic emotions: they are cultural.

The shame you are talking about is the Biblical shame that required to cover your body. I'm talking about the shame that comes out of excess of 'Eros' and 'Thanatos'.

If I think about it, the guilty feeling associated with Superego could only be enforced because there is this innate feeling called 'shame'. Society can't create something that doesn't have root in our basic instincts.

Maju said...

No: you are misreading me. I talk of shame in general, which is a feeling of not being up to social expectations.

Check Wikitionary - Shame.

However you may be right that this feeling may have to do with something instinctive, which is not shame as such but the social instinct: the instinctive feeling of mutual co-dependence and in particular of dependence of the individual on the group (society).

Shame would hence be a fear of losing social support.

Shame is not substantially different from fear.

Guilt may be slightly different (though it's related). I'd say guilt is feeling anger against oneself for not being up to such social (or internalized superegotic) expectations.

I think most if not all our emotional psychology is built up on five emotional pillars: affection, joy, rage, sadness and fear (in addition to the super-basic ones of pain and pleasure).

All the rest of emotions can perfectly be deconstructed into these five: shame, hatred and others are psycho-social constructs generated up to semi-consciously combining the five basic emotions. For example shame is mostly social fear, while hatred is a vectorized combo of fear and rage. Even love can be said to be a cultural combo: affection, joy, fear (of loss) altogether in a vectorized alchemy directed towards some specific object, ideal or person.

You don't need to agree but, since I began working with this system, many years ago, I have not yet found a single case where it can't be applied.

manju said...

Shame would hence be a fear of losing social support.
I'm associating shame with facial expressions. So, still at individual level.

since I began working with this system, many years ago, I have not yet found a single case where it can't be applied.
I'm not so sure what you mean by that. As far as I know only now there are some studies coming out on instincts, facial expressions. As you have already noticed, like the present study, some of them don't agree with our long held notions.

As far as I understand society can't create any feelings. It can only work on our instincts by adding attributes to it. Sometimes it may adopt extreme end of the spectrum(of feelings) as norm and make rules governing it.

Maybe there are multiple levels. Basic: lust and aggression
Next open level: joy and pain (associated with pleasure motif aggression only)
Next internal level: shame
Next open level: anger, fear

However, other instinctive drives like: knowledge, love, altruism are totally disconnected with basic instincts.

Maju said...

As far as I know only now there are some studies coming out on instincts, facial expressions.

Facial expressions in babies or adults?

Not sure that they would be all that instinctive. Expression in general is a semi-conscious activity modeled by learning. When I shake my head I mean "no" but in Greece that used to mean "yes".

As far as I understand society can't create any feelings. It can only work on our instincts by adding attributes to it.

Basic emotions are instincts but the complex emotions are only instinct-based and partly intellectual. Society (parents included) shapes those instincts according to its set of values, creating in the process culturally codified emotions such as shame, hatred and even love.

Maybe there are multiple levels.

I don't see it the way you do: shame is not anything basic.

I see a hyper-basic level that even unicellular beings must share (pain - pleasure, which is an basic way of determining what is good or bad for you). Then a basic animal level with the five emotions I mentioned before (fear, sadness, rage, affection and joy, shared by most animals, at least vertebrates, though in variable levels maybe). Then a social type of emotions found only in intelligent social animals (hatred, love) and then a subgroup of them probably only found in humans (shame, guilt) because they are only needed when a moral code is in action.

owever, other instinctive drives like: knowledge, love, altruism are totally disconnected with basic instincts.

Not really. Altruism has been seen in apes and other highly evolved animals (elephants, dolphins). It's not a basic emotion but it's central in all intelligent, sensible, social species. Even bovids show some kind of altruism, with the group returning often to face predators and try to save the members of their pack. Love is, as I said, based in fundamental instincts, very specially affection, from which it's not easy to take apart.

Knowledge is not an attitude but a product. But search of knowledge, curiosity (philosophy, science) is quite instinctive and natural among animals, specially the young. Not sure how to relate it with the rest but it's certainly there among all minimally intelligent animals.

manju said...

Expression in general is a semi-conscious activity modeled by learning.

I'm talking about this study.

What would be the response for those expressions? I think even those should be instinctive (and shame is one of them).

Maju said...

I don't see any shame there just sadness. They also mention joy.

manju said...

Shame is internal and need not to have public expression. Of course, head goes down in shame.

manju said...

When I shake my head I mean "no" but in Greece that used to mean "yes".

I think shaking action is instinctive for yes/no answers. When Indian shake their heads it's tough to understand whether that is 'yes' or 'no'. But everyone is sure that is either 'yes' or 'no'. Probably, we still have the oldest instinct for saying either yes (I suppose theoretically shaking head up and down) or no (I suppose theoretically shaking head sideways) which sometimes becomes ambiguous owing to the way question is posed (no?). But in many populations it has been fixed for only one of the expressions, I suppose.

Maju said...

Well, I was thinking you could blush in shame - but I don't make any clear difference with the feeling of shyness or insecurity or sensation of weakness in general.

Bowing the head is "Japanese" (oriental) honor code; we don't use that here. Maybe in the Middle Ages but not anymore. It seems anyhow a sign of acknowledging someone else's authority: respect rather than shame, right?

Lowering sight may be similar (and more universal possibly) but it's more like meditation about what is being discussed rather than shame as such. Other eye movement can signify the same as well, like rising the sight... whatever that distracts your mind from the immediate sight of your interlocutor and allows you to focus more in words and concepts.

Maju said...

I mean that Greeks traditionally shake their head to the sides to signify yes (and to make things even more confusing their word for yes is "ne", what any other IE would understand as "no"). Inversely they briefly shake their head upwards, putting the chin ahead and higher, to signify no (not exactly as the more universal yes up and down head movement but similar enough to be also confusing).

manju said...

Yes, lowering the eyes, I meant. Well, if something is universal that has to be instinctive. no?

Is shyness same as shame? I'm not sure. Anyway, the fact with all these common expressions they have to be instinctive or innate traits.

Maju said...

Is shyness same as shame?.

In Spanish the most usual terms are the same: "vergüenza" (noun), "avergonzarse" (verb). There are also specific names for shyness ("tímidez") and shy ("tímido/-a"), both apparently derived from some archaic form of "temer" (to fear) but there is no verb other than the same as feeling shame ("avergonzarse", "sentir vergüenza").

The real difference is that shyness expresses unspecific insecurity, while shame indicates the very specific insecurity that is derived from knowing you did something wrong in relation to the social/moral code.

As for lowering the eyes it's not as instinctive, except as sign of avoidance of conflict, typically towards someone felt to be in authority position and/or being potentially dangerous. Animals do the same: sight avoidance except if they mean to challenge or behave somewhat like humans do, among whom eye to eye codes are very informative at times (either to express trust or to make subtle indications, such as pointing with the eyes to some direction or winking).

I remain in the idea that shame is not a basic emotion but just a social variant of fear.

Maju said...

PS- "Vergonzoso/-a" is also used to mean shy or coy but also means shameful.

manju said...

Of course, unless we have a proper test we can't conclude that shame is innate. But I'm not yet convinced that all those facial expressions (so universal) do not generate any kind of innate emotions in the observer. Though few facial expressions can't be readable, the common ones should stimulate some response. Are these facial expressions just individualistic or some kind of junk properties?

Maju said...

Facial expressions are communication codes (even if unconscious and in many cases just instinctive). The athletes you mentioned were showing sadness, which is the feeling of loss, and that expression should elicit empathy, compassion and support from their support community, I figure.

The unconscious expression of emotions is surely related to the important role that empathy plays (or used to play) in human societies, making them work somewhat like superorganisms, not just groups of individuals.

Today though, with the destruction of natural communities and the individualization of societies... some of that emotional communion may be out of place.