Psychoanalysers took the congenital nature of the castration complex for granted and were not interested whether the subjects exhibiting sexual frustration were circumcised or not. Thus they totally ignored the possibility that the castration complex may be induced or facilitated by circumcision. They preferred to believe that castration anxiety is a result of an imaginary fear too sophisticated for children instead of to assume that its effects stemmed from an actual physical deficiency of the somatosensory system that is an integral part of the neurons system.[i]
Was the father of psychoanalysis circumcised? Of course, he was. As well as majority of his students were. Most probably Freud discovered the castration anxiety exactly because he experienced the sensual deficiency of circumcision. In his own terms, however, Freud was symbolically castrated.
Symbolic versus partial emasculation
Freud considered circumcision a symbolic castration. He treated circumcision as ait is a harmless or even potentially beneficial reminder of the father’s dominance in the prehistoric past. He did not assume that circumcision caused real sexual or emotional deprivation or represented a partial castration because like any other circumcised man he was unable to directly appreciate the lost sensitivity. He felt it indirectly by the limitations on gratification it causes. And he did this too diligently because the vacuum of the lost emotion attracted hid thoughts.
Freud became famous for his sexual obsessions. He investigated libidinal desires, pleasure and its limitations, psychological fixations and sexual neuroses and invented the castration complex. He postulated that all these sexual frustrations stem from the repression of sexual drives during infancy. His analytic mind illuminated sexual topics so profoundly. Some ordinary people and psychologists, however, think he delved too deep. They feel he invaded unknown territories and perhaps fabricated some of them.
Undeniably, Freud was preoccupied with investigating sexual matters. He persistently explored the libido as if trying to palp sensations denied to him. He reduced almost everything to Eros and strived to identify it better. Not only that, he invented an invisible unconscious and omnipresent sexual reality. Freud was a great thinker as if his brain was larger than average or as if he was lost in intensive sublimation. The pursuit of the lost erogenous sensitivity shaped his psychoanalytical theory. He nearly touched the intangible he had, we could say.
Freud suffered incompleteness of sexual gratification. It came natural to him to attribute it to unconscious psychological repression of sexuality instead of to physical suppression of erogenous sensitivity that he could not detect. In order to explain the unobvious frustration he ascribed nearly adult-like sexuality to children. Correspondingly, in order to explain the lack of such sexuality he needed a factor to suppress it. He attributed great power to mentality which enables even children to censure their sexual drives. He assumed that the psychological repression is an unconscious process that is especially strong during early childhood. Freud exhibited all the signs of sexual frustration inflicted during infancy and dedicatedly explored it. By all appearances he suffered the Circumcision syndrome but termed it castration anxiety and attributed it to psychological causes.
It is normal for those who are sexually frustrated to be inclined to ascribe undue sexual motivation to children and to consider children’s attachment to the mother as vicious. It is also easy for those who are deprived of erogenous sensitivity to consider that sexual drives can be easily subdued and to exaggerate the power of psychological repression.
Freud considered that the repression of erotic feelings is the normal way for sexual maturation. The psychoanalytical attitude toward sexuality entails that everyone sojourns in a state of sexual frustration irrespective of their sexual and emotional development. This view is also concordant with the circumcision-caused deficiency of gratification he experienced.
According to Freud it is the fear of castration that urges boys to assume the masculine role. This fear-driven masculinization is indirect as it has nothing to do with hormonal secretion. Perhaps he found it so important because he lacked the most direct erogenous sensitivity.