Your personal growth is highly dependent on your ‘sexuality awareness’.
This awareness begins with the task of knowing what ‘infantile sexuality’ is and what part it plays in your daily life. Understanding this process is vital to your development.
Your ‘infantile sexuality’ begins in the minds of your parents before you exist and expands rapidly into your conscious and unconscious mind in the first few weeks and months after birth. It develops before the awareness of personhood separate from others exists, in particular separateness from mother.
‘Infantile sexuality’ is in part anatomy, physiology, genes, hormones, developmental events and traumas. The physical intactness of these aspects has a naturally profound impact on the development of your psychological self.
‘Infantile sexuality’ is also powerfully created, however, by experiences with parents, sibs and other adults. It is made up of five significant parts.
1) It begins in the minds of parents with variable awareness on their parts. It ‘manifests’ as you are delivered from mother’s inside to the outside world through her vagina. The umbilical cord is cut and you may have been slapped hard on your bottom to get you breathing. Your body and skin is placed next to your mother’s and your skins meld. Your sex is ‘assigned’ blue or pink. Then you are, more or less clearly, sexually ‘named’.
2) With breathing established, hard-wiring to find food directs your mouth to mother’s breast and nipple. Your mouth and lips are guided to find the nipple and you suck and are suckled. The presence or absence of these and other experiences like holding and touching, or the frustration or satisfaction they bring, are of critical psychological importance in how your ‘infantile sexuality’ is taken in and shaped. Understood and accepted experiences develop your conscious mind, while non-understood and repressed ones develop your unconscious mind. What complicates this process is that your parents and surrounding adults bring to the experience their own unresolved ‘infantile sexuality’ issues. They transmit enigmatic messages to you about these issues. In your mother’s case, for instance, she is sending messages about her own mothering experience, her experience of becoming or being a mother, as well as the contradictory pleasurable / unpleasurable sexual experience she is having with you as ‘her’ infant. Her own body and breasts are stimulated and her own ‘infantile sexuality’ is simultaneously being reawakened. These enigmatic messages begin to shape the sense of your own sexuality as they combine with other pleasurable or unpleasurable stimulation you are having to your sensory body: skin, ears, eyes, mouth, anus, genitals, internal organs, fingers and toes.
3) As you repress the messages that are not understandable, your ‘infantile sexuality’ becomes the link between your body, the formation of symbols and language and your mind. Understanding and translating these symbolic-sensory-emotional messages in your unconscious on the threshold of language is a life-long task.
4) As you begin to develop a separate self, you experience increasing frustration and the sexuality counter-point, aggression, inevitably arises. This is expressed in crying, temper tantrums, vomiting and evacuations. But it is also repressed in unmetabolizable bits so that it sits inside your unconscious mind more or less separate from untranslated sexual messages. Importantly, a great deal of sexuality and aggression fuses, and is confused thereafter, in your unconscious.
5) The primacy of mother’s femininity becomes the container of your sexual identity. As a little girl this becomes the foundation of your identity; as a little boy it becomes an outline of your identity. Both as a little boy or girl, with weaning, you now deal with loss. This loss is elaborated as a boy or girl with the recognition of sexual differentiation: mother and father are recognized as whole, separate-from-you, sexually different persons. As a girl you conform your identification with your genital mother. As a boy you consolidate your identity by dis-identifying with a phallic mother and identifying with the genital masculinity of your father. Up to then there is no rivalry with the parent of the same sex and this is accompanied by love for both parents.
As you recognize your father also has a relationship with your mother, and is between your ‘perfect oneness’ with her, an organizational principle of the human mind, the complicated conflict known as Oedipal arises. With this conflict comes the opportunity for ‘mature sexuality’ to develop or to go further astray if all has not gone well to this point.
In a following article I will outline the importance of awareness of the consequences of trauma, aggression and interruptions in ‘infantile sexuality’ and in a later article discuss ‘mature sexuality’ and disruptions to it.
Dr. Clark Falconer is the author of the acclaimed, Three Word Truth about Love and Being Well and has just released his first work of fiction, a psychological thriller: Stepping on Little Ants, The Cumulative Effect.