Men and Mothers
The Life-Long Struggle of Sons and Mothers
A classic work of psychoanalysis filling a gap left by Freud
A book for and about sons but also for the mothers of those sons. Where Sigmund Freud once described the way men interacted with their fathers, Iki Freud turns her gaze to their mothers. Sons can also develop a symbiotic bond with their female parent. This leads to identification with the mother instead of the father and is often correlated with either homosexuality, or sexual perversion – which is problematic when it becomes compulsive and exclusive.
Not every man has an Oedipus complex. Not every man fantasized fighting a silent battle with his father as a boy to secure his mother’s exclusive love, finally giving her up for the sake of an adult love life with another woman. There are also men who followed a different course. Some fantasize about matricide and continue to struggle with their mother’s influence throughout their lives. In a normal situation, a mother does not need her child to survive. Processing this truth is necessary for the child to become an independent individual. However, if the mother does need the child as a psychological prop, it is unhealthy: a co-dependency is created, which can lead to perverse behaviour.
Iki Freud insightfully shows how this can be expressed. Perversion involves acting out fantasies in a ritualistic and compulsive manner. Stereotypical sexual play can offer protection against a fear of merging with one’s partner and channel unconscious anger against the maternal figure. Perversion is a tool for maintaining emotional balance. Drawing on the works of Proust and Freud as well as anonymised examples from her own practice, Iki Freud paints a picture of men who have been unable to detach themselves from their mothers. Famous passages such as the bedtime kiss episode in In Search of Lost Time are analysed. The child needs a bedtime ritual, but the mother refuses, fearing to spoil him.. A perverted mother-son relationship continues in later love life.
For Iki Freud, Proust’s homosexual protagonist is a perfect complement to Freud’s model of the damaged heterosexual child. While Freud developed the concept of symbolic parricide, Proust thematised the concept of matricide: sons who make a pact with their mothers and struggle with it throughout their lives.
‘It all doesn’t have to go wrong and lead to trauma,’ explained Iki Freud in an interview. ‘Mothers are interested in how they interact with their sons, the influence they have. And for adult sons struggling with these kinds of issues, the book can offer insights into their inner world and how it is shaped. After all, the forms that love takes, are mainly learned from the cradle.’