Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Fear of the mind. The annihilating power of the gaze.

The concern for the annihilating power of the gaze is not part of the Freudian discourse, but represents one of the most valuable contributions of phenomenology to psychoanalysis. When clear boundaries between the self and the others are not yet established, the gaze is experienced as a disembodied force that radiates from the eyes and can dangerously penetrate into the mind. In this regard, the body or parts of it can be used as a shelter. If the external body is not sufficiently cathected, its sheltering function is also decreased, to the point that the body is experienced as transparent, and the most intimate feelings and thoughts become dangerously available to the others. In primitive societies this situation is experienced as the danger of losing the soul. The unconscious fantasy of obstructing the sight can be used to neutralize the annihilating power of the gaze by introducing an artificial barrier between the minds. In dreams and in other expressions of the unconscious, the black color might hint at such an artificial barrier. What is then blackened are moments of the meeting of the mind that cannot be introspected. Blind spots in the perception of the mind of the other as well as in the perception of the self are a specific consequence of this kind of defense.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Behavior and personality

While the defining characteristics of femininity are not universally identical, some patterns exist. Gentleness, empathy, sensitivity, caring, sweetness, compassion, tolerance, nurturance, deference, and succorance are behaviors generally considered feminine.

Femininity is sometimes linked with sexual objectification and sexual appeal. Sexual passiveness, or sexual reception, is sometimes considered feminine while sexual assertiveness and sexual desire is sometimes considered masculine.

Ann Oakley's sex/gender dichotomy has had a considerable influence on sociologists defining masculine and feminine behavior as regulated, policed, and reproduced in our society, as well as the power structures relating to the concepts. Some queer theorists and other postmodernists, however, have rejected the sex (biology)/gender (culture) dichotomy as a "dangerous simplification".

An ongoing debate with regards to sex and psychology concerns the extent to which gender identity and gender-specific behavior is due to socialization versus inborn factors. According to Diane F. Halpern, both factors play a role, but the relative importance of each must still be investigated. The nature versus nurture question, for example, is extensively debated and is continually revitalized by new research findings.Some hold that feminine identity is partly a 'given' and partly a goal to be sought.

In 1959, researchers such as John Money and Anke Erhardt proposed the prenatal hormone theory. Their research argues that sexual organs bathe the embryo with hormones in the womb, resulting in the birth of an individual with a distinctively male or female brain; this was suggested by some to "predict future behavioral development in a masculine or feminine direction". This theory, however, has been criticized on theoretical and empirical grounds and remains controversial. In 2005, scientific research investigating sex and psychology showed that gender expectations and stereotype threat affect behavior, and a person's gender identity can develop as early as three years of age. Money also argued that gender identity is formed during a child's first three years.

Mary Vetterling-Braggin argues that all characteristics associated with femininity arose from early human sexual encounters which were mainly male-forced and female-unwilling, because of male and female anatomical differences.Others, such as Carole Pateman, Ria Kloppenborg, and Wouter J. Hanegraaff, argue that the definition of femininity is the result of how females must behave in order to maintain a patriarchal social system.

In Carl Jung's school of analytical psychology, the anima and animus are the two primary anthropomorphic archetypes of the unconscious mind. The anima and animus are described by Jung as elements of his theory of the collective unconscious, a domain of the unconscious that transcends the personal psyche. In the unconscious of the male it finds expression as a feminine inner personality: anima; equivalently, in the unconscious of the female it is expressed as a masculine inner personality: animus.

Friday, 26 August 2011


Femininity is a set of attributes, behaviors, and roles generally associated with girls and women. Though socially constructed, femininity is made up of both socially defined and biologically created factors. This makes it distinct from the simple definition of the biological female sex, as women, men, and transgender people can all exhibit feminine traits.

Traits associated with femininity include a variety of social and cultural factors, and often vary depending on location and context. Behavioral traits that are considered feminine include gentleness, empathy, and sensitivity. The counterpart to femininity is masculinity.