Sexual Seduction & Freud Psy. 405 Psychoanalysis was huge in the success of Sigmund Freud. Freud proclaimed that we are not the rational rulers of our lives but are under the influence of unconscious forces of which we are unaware and over which we have little, if any, control. Freud was pondering over the sexual basis of emotional disturbances. Sexual abuse as a child or adolescent affects ones future as an adult. Child sexual abuse has been reported up to 80,000 times a year (Facts for Family, 2011).
Sexual seduction in childhood seems to be reported mostly by woman to be the root of their behavior and main reason for needing some kind of therapy practice. Because of the abuse it affects you more as an adult when you’re trying to have a relationship or sexual contact with others and so I focus on Freud’s theories and therapy practices to understand ways to cope and get passed the abuse. His approach evolves in steps such as levels of consciousness or theory of consciousness, analysis of mental structures, psychosexual stages of development, defense mechanisms, and means of tapping the unconscious.
Provided are some statistics to outline how big of an issue this is. The U. S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Children’s Bureau report Child Maltreatment 2010 found that 9. 2% of victimized children were sexually assaulted (p24). Studies by David Finkelhor, Director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center show that 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys is a victim of child sexual abuse. Self-report studies show that 20% of adult females and 5-10% of adult males recall a childhood sexual assault or sexual abuse incident.
During a one-year period in the U. S. , of youth ages 14 to 17 had been sexually victimized. Over the course of their lifetime, 28% of U. S. youth ages 14 to 17 had been sexually victimized. Children are most vulnerable to child sexual abuse between the ages of 7 and 13 (Finkelhor, 2009). Although no one wants to hear these statistics and believe that this occurs it’s sad to say it doesn’t end here. According to a 2003 National Institute of Justice report, 3 out of 4 adolescents who have been sexually victimized by someone they knew well (p5).
Sexual abuse when you’re young and sexual abuse from someone you know well all factors into how you are when you’re an adult. Freud’s seduction hypothesis concluded that emotional disturbances could be related to childhood sexual trauma. To get a little overview and insight into this big issue I will discuss the case of Anna O. Anna O. was Josef Breuer’s patient whom also shared this and many other cases with Freud. This case is what started the development of psychoanalysis. Through her therapy she would recall specific experiences that seemed to have given rise to certain symptoms.
Talking about her experiences often relieved the symptoms. She referred to their conversations as chimney sweeping or the talking cure. As their sessions continued, Breuer realized that the incidents Anna remembered involved thoughts or events she found repulsive. Reliving the disturbing experiences reduced or eliminated the symptoms. All nightmares, phobias, and fears which influence you but why you have them is because of the unconscious and Freud suggests ways or techniques of reaching that unconscious through his free association technique.
A child who is the victim of prolonged sexual abuse usually develops low self-esteem, a feeling of worthlessness and an abnormal or distorted view of sex (Facts for families, 2011). Although each individual is different some unique responses to sexual abuse that are common among many is low self-esteem or self-hatred and many survivors suffer from depression. There is a lack of trust for anyone especially if it’s someone they were dependent upon like family and teachers. 93% of victims under the age of 18 know their attacker (Finkelhor, 2009).
Many have flashbacks where they re-experience the sexual abuse as if it were occurring at that moment, usually accompanied by visual images of the abuse. These flashbacks often are triggered by an event, action, or even a smell that is reminiscent of the sexual abuse of the abuser. Dissociation may also occur where survivors go through a process where the mind distances itself from the experience because it is too much for the psyche to process at the time. This loss of connection with thoughts, memories, feelings, actions or sense of identity, is a coping mechanism and may affect aspects of a survivor’s functioning.
Sexuality and intimacy also affect a survivor because they have to deal with the fact that one of their first sexual encounters was a result of abuse. These memories may interfere with the survivor’s ability to engage in sexual relationships, which may bring about feelings of fright, frustration, or being ashamed. Many use coping mechanisms such as grieving, mourning, alcohol, drug abuse, eating disorders, and self-injury and so on mostly because you feel ashamed to confront someone about it. Those who have the courage to let it out often seek therapy.
I base this paper on Freud’s seduction theory and therapy technique to help survivors overcome their issues. For example many sexual abuse survivors struggle with developing normal adult sexual intimacy abilities and may feel as though they are defective, damaged, or otherwise flawed (Kress, Hoffman, Thomas, 2008). Freud developed his theory from a clinical study of the relationship between childhood seduction and the development of adult emotional disorder. Freud who had no doubt that sex played the determining role in neurosis and that neurotic conditions could not arise in a person who led a normal sex life.
This was discussed in the free-association technique and seduction theory. In this technique survivors will struggle but will be able to build or rebuild a positive self-identity. Much research has been done in the study of incest trauma being the root and even in Freud’s free-association technique, his patient’s revealed sexual seduction, with the seducer usually being an older relative and thus caused adult neurotic behavior. Sexual abuse often affects someone emotionally and sexually later in life when accepting relationships with others. Everyone is different but two things could occur.
You either are frightened by any relationship with someone emotional and sexually or you can become a sex addict. Freud was looking for a long-term cure of symptoms individuals had. He soon gave up catharsis as a treatment method and developed from it the technique of free association. This is a psychotherapeutic technique in which the patient says whatever comes to mind. In this technique a patient lies on the couch and is encouraged to talk openly and spontaneously, giving complete expression to every idea, no matter how embarrassing, unimportant, or foolish it may sound.
His goal was to bring in conscious awareness the repressed memories or thoughts, which were assumed to be the source of the patients abnormal behavior. The thoughts that came to the patients mind were said by Freud to not be random and have some connection during the free-association sessions. The experiences brought into memory were predetermined and could not be censored by the patient’s conscious choice. Externalizing may also help clients connect with solutions and options they may not normally realize (Kress et al, 2008). The patient’s conflict would be forced out so that it had to be expressed to the therapist.
Therapists need to develop clinical skills and interventions that are specific to counseling this population (Kress et al, 2008) just like Freud and his free-association technique. Kress, Hoffman, and Thomas (2008) explained it this way; The technique of externalizing client problems, or separating the identity of the client from the presenting problems, or separating the identity of the client from the presenting concerns, may have the effect of increasing the client’s sense of control over the perceived problems and increasing internalized personal agency and, thus, a sense of empowerment (p107).
Through the free-association technique, Freud found that his patient’s memories brought up an experience from childhood that had a connection they repressed concerning sexual issues. By 1898, he was convinced that “the most immediate and, for practical purposes, the most significant causes of neurotic illness are to be found in factors arising from sexual life” (Breger, 2000, p117). He also points out some specifics on the seduction theory such as the seducer being an older relative, often the father and that these seduction traumas were the cause of adult neurotic behavior.
His patients were hesitant about describing details of the seduction experience as though the events were somehow unreal or had never really happened. A consistent research finding about adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse is difficulty with establishing and maintaining intimate relationships (Gil, 2008). By providing a couple of examples you’ll see where Freud would come in with his seduction theory and free-association hypothesis. The case of the women in this article by Rachman, Kennedy, and Yard (2005) resembled the well-known case of Anna O which became the upmost importance in the development of psychoanalysis.
The woman, whom they called Miss M, was sexually molested by a male family figure when she was two years old. She then started to masturbate using a pencil and was scolded and blamed for misbehaving. Her mother reacted to her masturbation as if it were an immoral behavior and was not curious as to the origins of her daughter’s premature sexuality. Miss M started to become highly seductive with men. Through therapy she worked out this problem over a period of about a year to understand her trauma and dysfunction.
These difficulties impact male selection, interactional patterns, conflict resolution, balance of power, satisfaction, and the nature and frequency of sexual contact (Gil, 2008). Miss M overcame these difficulties and was then able to begin a steady relationship and soon got married and started a family. Another case provided by Rachman et al (2005) was with Laura and her therapist. Laura was sexually abused by her mother, cousin, and brothers. She quickly initiated an obsessively laden, angry, erotic transference.
Laura interpreted the empathy of the therapist for her childhood trauma. Laura thought that as the therapist showed interest in her, so just like her mother, the therapist must desire her sexually, and she must respond to the therapist as she did with her mother. Laura reflected that her life was always haunted by being vulnerable to being “hit on” physically and sexually at any moment by her siblings. When Laura would recall her past she would link what she started to do with others. She was behaving just as her mother did in a sexually abusive fashion.
The therapist worked on this behavior but it was not concluded in the article what the result was or what the effect of the therapy had on her. The therapist was also not named in this example. In this same article was an example of a therapist, Bob Kennedy and his patient Vivian. Vivian’s marriage was falling apart. She noted that her husband was unable to satisfy her emotionally. This was because of a sexual involvement with her father when she was young. Through the course of the therapy sessions Vivian accepted the idea that her childhood sexuality with her father was abusive.
Survivors will need assistance in strengthening or enhancing the quality of their relationships, as well as addressing unresolved childhood traumas that may unconsciously shape their attitudes and behaviors (Gil, 2008). She eventually abandoned her sexual aggression and gave the impression of feeling safe, assured there would be no repletion of the abuse she had once suffered. Once she was able to come to this conclusion she then could have a satisfying relationship with her husband. In the article by Bachman, Kennedy, and Yard they explained in detail and through these examples the root to therapy.
Once you understand the erotic behavior toward another as a mode of communication from their childhood sexual trauma, that the experience can be viewed as an opportunity for a therapeutic encounter. It’s through free-association analysis that could succeed in accepting responsibility for their own forbidden feelings, their sexuality, aggression, and guilt that had previously been projected onto others. Talking your issue out will make you realize how wrong sexual seduction is. Partners and spouses of adult survivors benefit from assistance as well.
Partner and spouses often report feelings of isolation, fear, helplessness and hopelessness, frustration and anger (Gil, 2008). This could have been why Vivian’s marriage was falling apart and yet it all came down to her abuse as a child. Spouses may also find that their efforts to obtain intimacy are thwarted by the survivor’s need to use reflexive defense strategies (Gil, 2008). Free-association therapy is not easy to go through because you need to dig up everything in your past and in conscious thought that you may not want to relive.
There are many steps to relieving the headaches of seduction to the desired outcome in the free-association therapy. Resistance is one of them steps. This is the blockage or refusal to disclose painful memories during a free-association session. Repression also is the process of barring unacceptable ideas, memories, or desires from conscious awareness, leaving them to operate in the unconscious mind. Being sexually seduced brings on anxiety. Freud explains defense mechanisms to reduce anxiety.
Psychosexual stages (oral, anal, phallic, latency and genital) of personality development include denial, displacement, projection, rationalization, reaction formation, regression, repression, and sublimation. Denial is considered denying the existence of an external threat or traumatic event. Displacement is for example replacing hostility toward one’s boss with hostility toward one’s child. Projection is attributing impulse toward someone else. Rationalization is for example saying that a job you got fired from was not a good job for you anyway.
Reaction formation for example is someone disturbed by sexual longings who may become a crusader against pornography. Regression is going back to a less frustrating period in life and displacing the childish and dependent behaviors of that time. Repression is denying the existence of something that gives you anxiety. Sublimation is altering impulses by doing socially acceptable behaviors such as diverting sexual energy into artistically creative behaviors. Through these steps free association is not that easy but is effective.
No one who is sexually abused is going to be able to be free of their anxiety very fast and effectively. There is always going to be downfalls at some points and each individual is different in the amount of time it will take to overcome it. It’s encouraged for the patients to meet certain situations that arise and learn to cope with the unpleasant sensations by remaining focused in therapy and talks it out. References Facts for Families: Child Sexual Abuse. (2011). American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. No. 9 Finkelhor, D. (2009).
The prevention of childhood abuse. Vol. 19 No. 2 Gil, E. (2008). Training topics. 1-10 Kress, V. , Hoffman, R. , Thomas, A. (2008). Letters from the future: the use of therapeutic letter writing in counseling sexual abuse survivors. Journal of Creativity in Mental Health, 3(2), 105-118 National Institute for Justice Report. (2003) P. 5 Rachman, A. , Kennedy, R. , Yard, M. (2005). The role of childhood sexual seduction in the development of an erotic transference: pervasion in the psychoanalytic situation. International Forum of Psychoanalysis, 14, 183-187
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