The Circumcision and Castration Complexes

Circumcision amputates the most erogenous part of the penis. It is a partial castration but such that does not impair insemination and fertility. Removal of the foreskin triggers the Circumcision complex while according to the Freudian psychoanalysis the fear of removal of the penis initiates the castration complex.

The anatomical analogy between castration and circumcision gives us reasons to assume that they have analogous psychological effects. As far as circumcision supresses sexuality it may be regarded as a partial castration. The Circumcision and castration complexes must show great similarity because both of them cause sexual frustration.

The foreskin as well as any other erogenous zone is a tool of sexual stimulation. Erogenous zones alone do not govern sexual drive. The instincts that control sexuality are rooted deeply in the physiology of nervous and endocrine[i] systems. The brain ruling the endocrine glands is the main erogenous organ. It is the structure that translates nerve impulses from the skin into pleasurable sensations. Removal of foreskin leaves its representative regions in the brain intact and idle and they tend to restructure. Circumcision produces informational vacuum that the following cortical reorganization readily reutilizes.

The neuropsychological transformation that circumcision triggers is challenged to replace an absent sensitivity, to override and alter its meaning. The Circumcision complex tries to make up for a loss of a part of the peripheral nervous system which requires deep restructuring of the brain. The cortical reorganization ensuing from circumcision redirects the libido, sublimates sexual energy and powers compensatory activities with them.

Castration complex associates sexual desires with fear. It tries to subdue them by disregard. It is an entirely introvertive defensive mechanism driven by apprehension. Its strategy is to consider the forbidden fruit bitter. The compensations of the castration complex put the inaccessible pleasure down in the unconscious or subject it to a psychological repression that is a type of active forgetting.[ii]

The psychological repression does not replace sexual sensitivity. It does not profoundly transform the sexual drive but merely hides it from the consciousness and forces it to take socially acceptable forms. It only surficially reshapes and redirects sexual desires. The psychological repression is also ineffective as it rows against the tide of the instinctual desires. No unemployed brain regions are available to facilitate it.

The rejection of feelings from consciousness due to fear is a normal behavioural response that evolution must have elaborated long ago. The psychological repression is a required function that the nervous system must be well adapted to, so as to be able to perform. The psychological repression is a conditional, dynamic and to a great extent reversible process. It does not recompense damage to the nervous system. It is predicted by the economical nature and does not involve massive rewiring of the brain. Still, the psychological repression is an incessant and laborious process of self-censorship so it should create nervous tension and neurosis.[iii] Unlike it, the loss of receptors injures the nervous system. The adaptations following loss of receptors are irreversible and necessitate substantial neurophysiological transformation.

Circumcision reduces sexual sensitivity and renders sexual gratification incomplete. Castration totally does away with sexual sensitivity and satisfaction. The fear of castration should be a dreadful experience. However, it is only an apprehension that occurs in imagination. The castration anxiety is brain-generated. Being triggered by suppositions it must be less potent in transforming the libido and the mind than circumcision because it is triggered by conscious hence secondary, shallow, external and temporary conditions. The neurophysiological transformation caused by fear of castration is shallower than that fuelled by the amputation of erogenous zones. For that reason repressed sexual desires tend to resurface.

Excision of erogenous zones has much greater power to supress and to alter mentality than tabooed pleasure. Circumcision causes greater modification of the nervous system than sex-related worries. It is a physical suppression of sexuality and induces a profounder and more intense cortical reorganization than the psychological repression of socially unacceptable desires.

The Circumcision complex attempts to compensate for the missing pleasure sensitivity by more or less extensive rewiring of certain brain regions so it is carried out at deep unconscious level. The castration complex attempts to compensate for supposed fears by ignoring them so it does not involve restructuration of the brain and operates at a shallower hemi-conscious level. The Circumcision complex replaces a physical deficit and reutilizes sexual desires while the castration anxiety rejects them from consciousness. Castration complex is a psychological repression of sexuality triggered by fear so both its origin and effects are mental. Perhaps the difference between the effects of circumcision and the repression of oedipal feelings may be compared to that between forgetting you have something and not having it at all.

Comparison of Circumcision and Castration Complexes
Is Caused byErogenous DeficiencyHemi-Conscious Fear of Punishment
Basis isPhysical / NeurophysiologicalMental / Emotional
Trigger of The Neurophysiological ReorganizationSensorial Deficit, Pleasure DeprivationSuspicion of Eventual Pleasure Deprivation
The Ensuing Neurophysiological Reorganization IsProfound, Inevitable and IrreversibleSurficial and Partly Revertible
The Blocked Emotion IsLost and Unrestorable, and Tends to Be Replaced by other EmotionsIntact, Operates at Unconscious Level, Partly Restorable at removal of taboos or through the Methods of Psychoanalysis
Mechanism for Coping with the Suppressed SexualityEnhancement of Sexual Stimulation, Redirection of Sexual Desires, or extra Suppression of SexualityPsychological Repression or Exclusion of Problematic Sexual Desires from Consciousness
Sexual TaboosHelp but Are of Marginal ImportanceAre of Central Importance
Transformation isEntirely Unconscious and partly Directed by Social ConditionsHemi-Conscious and Entirely Socially Conditioned
Direction of Mental Transformation runsparallel or oblique to libidinal desiresagainst libidinal desires
Unlike the hypothetical fear of an imaginary castration, circumcision is a real neurological intervention and must have real effects. Circumcision complex seems to have profounder psychological effects than castration anxiety because its neuropsychological transformation is triggered by a physical deficiency. Yet the mechanism of its compensations is entirely unconscious hence is more independent from social background.

Leave a Reply