Christian is a Philosopher that comes from Belgium. What identifies him the most and above all is simplicity, for everything is better with “vanilla ice cream.” Perhaps, for this reason, his intellectual passion is criticism and irony, in the sense of trying to reveal what “hides behind the mask,” and give birth to the true. For him, ignorance and knowledge never “cross paths.” What he likes the most in his leisure time, is to go for a walk with his wife.
Scott Douglas Jacobsen: Now, Eitan, if we’re covering some of the aspects of gender via a siloing of genetics into it, we come to the other areas of analysis of this (over-)simplification. Then we’ve another facet of this diamond in the environmental influences upon the ways in which gender, as a construct of the mind, and the reality of the representation of the self of and in the world, has many factors building into it. What are the primary environmental factors influencing this psychological construct regarding the self?
Dr. Christian Sorensen: I think, that the primary environmental factors that determine the construct of gender, are unspecific, since they have more to do with autonomic psychodynamics, due to certain universal patterns, than with circumstantial variables, in consequence, from my point of view, there are two primary influencing factors, that I will name gender ideal and ideal of the gender, that as such, always are going to be unconsciously motivated, and would arise instantly, when the individual, enters into language, and therefore, begins to communicate with its environment. Respectively, they would refer to idealized images of gender identity, that also are of unconscious origin, and are exogenously imposed, by emotional ties of significant and primary nature, within individual history, which means a customization, through fixative mandates of imaginary destiny, since forces the individual, to go out and dive into the world, in order to search others, although it’s unable, to make any introspective analysis for wondering its ultimate sense, and therefore for being aware, because when particular ideals of gender are found, something that belongs to the other, as a piece, must be usurped, introjected and objectified for identification, which implies to fit a partiality, within each space of the gender ideal, in order to utopianly complete, its figure throughout life. The aforementioned means, that individuals, feel almost always, a correspondence, no matter what kind of entity is being interposed, therefore, regarding their gender ideal, and the ideal of gender, with the fact of thinking to find a sort of something in others, independently of the coincidences, between both forms of genders, which also is a process that causes a double psychic tension, since on the one hand, it’s impossible to generate any type of awareness, that as such, is a sufficient reason, for the presence of intrapsychic conflicts, and from the other side, simultaneously there is a intersubjective tension, that has to do, with the introjective process of gender. The last, needs to be mediated by feelings of idealization, that in turn, because they seek to be rewarded, by loving feelings of others, and through demonstrable gestures of availability, which lastly what they demand, it’s a cut, regarding the other, in order to reaffirm the gender identity, within the gender ideal, is in this manner, the need to appropriate a particular ideal of gender, along a cascade of frustrations, where aggressiveness, accompanies regressive childhood feelings.
Jacobsen: What are the secondary environmental factors influencing this psychological construct regarding the self?
Sorensen: The environmental factors, that influence the construct of gender, are generally secondary, since they’re conscious and they refer directly, to identifiable circumstantial variables, which are cognitively recognizable, and are optionally eligible, once the individual values them, and depending, on the feelings of emotional closeness, and of what I will name as ring of proximal influences, when they’re determined by significant emotional figures of different spheres, as ring of intermediate influences, when they correspond to non-significant social ties, and as distal ring of influences, when they regard interpersonal relationships of instrumental nature, since they lack of any substantial and emotional bindings. These three types of secondary influences, have the shape of rings, because they rotate circularly throughout the life, which means that they revolve around, of what I will name, as stages of psychological development of gender, each of which, is going to have to overcome its own crisis, since they consist, in having to choose between two opposing options, therefore one of them, would lead the individual, to remain attached to the crisis, while the other, would allow the overcome of it, by advancing towards the next evolutionary stage. By following a chronological sense from childhood, I will name the first one as trust versus mistrust, because it’s related with the subjectively attributed gender, the second, as the gender self-harmony versus gender self-disharmony, due to guilt, and the third one, as gender productivity versus gender inferiority. Then during adolescence, a fourth stage will be present, as that of gender identity versus the confusion of roles, throughout young adulthood, it’s found the fifth one, of intimacy versus isolation, due to gender, and in middle adulthood as well, that of generativity versus stagnation, due to gender. And ultimately along late adulthood, appears the sixth stage, that is going to regard serenity versus the despair, due to gender. The psychological development of gender, will suppose in turn, what I consider to be the existence of a critical period, which is an amount of time during a specific moment, that necessarily must be respected, since otherwise, it wouldn’t be possible to overcome each of the stages, in consequence, it’s possible to sustain that the development of gender, is always critical, from a positive perspective, because is associated with an evolutionary opportunity, through which the freedom of choice is exercised, at the same time, that also has a negative connotation, because the stages are successive, and then each one is going to carry within itself, an specific task, represented by a predetermined conflict, that should be successfully solved, because otherwise, leaves the individual, in a state of maturational fixation, which leads the end of its life, due to the integration of gender that’s lost, to a nightmare of darkness for the soul.
Jacobsen: Regarding gender, and the environment, we can consider eco-sociality, the social environment. Other selves with their own self-concepts, their own genders, and their own concepts of other people’s gender, including our own. Obviously, a lot of this is recursive. However, the self seems as such, by its nature. Some of its higher existence seems to come out of such processes. The social environs have more influence on mentally normal people compared to mentally abnormal people (as in abnormal psychology), sometimes, e.g., individuals on the autism spectrum will miss social cues. What are some other ways in which the social realities can influence gender in the short-term?
Sorensen: I think that social realities, from the point of view of immediacy, are the ones that first define the constructs of the self and gender, therefore it could be deduced, that these are not the result of an individual analytical introspection, and that they probably have nothing to do with real attributes, in consequence, it is possible to conclude, that they are imaginary, as opposition to the real, and consequently they are specular, since they do not arise from the interior of consciousness, but from sociability, that as such, is external, and is assimilated, once the individual feels a connection with the exterior world, as something that makes sense, and because the self, has the certitude that corresponds to a reflection, where two glances meet. At the same time, is why contemplates the intersection, between social entities, and what the self-concept dictates about gender, in order to finally appropriate the encounter, for integrating it within itself, according to what I will name as the construct of the self-concept, which would be, the intersection space between two sets, that are respectively, the identity of the self and the gender. Within abnormal psychology, as is the case of autism, which in my opinion is childhood schizophrenia, the aforementioned intersection does not exist, therefore, due to the fact, that gender and social reality, do not touch at any point, they stop behaving as sets, and they turn into sort of planets, in consequence, they become in full entities, because they lack of any need, and instead of turning around the world, they revolve around themselves, as if they were following only their own orbits.
Jacobsen: What are some other ways in which the social realities can influence gender in the long-term?
Sorensen: I think that social realities, evolve over time, and in doing so, the codes that regulate them, are modified, which implies in turn, a mutation of language, either because the signifiers which conform to its linguistic pool, are redefined in their significations, or since novel signifiers, that previously would have been just meaningless neologisms, nevertheless now on are not, and consequently are significant signifiers. Therefore, they have acquired a communicational sense, that enables to create symbolic realities, which are beyond the limits of the current consciousness. The above, would suppose, what I will denominate as epigenetic evolution of gender, since if social realities change over time, then these, may reconceptualize the construct of gender by making it heritable, and in consequence, turning it in something evolutionary, above any form of genetic correlation between generations.
Jacobsen: How does the self as embodied in gender co-relate and simultaneously change the nature of other people’s genders, either in reinforcement or diminishment, over time if in intimate reactions with one another as friends, lovers, and colleagues?
Sorensen: The self as such, in my opinion, is a function, that would be inserted in what for me, is the system of consciousness, and in itself has two functions, one of which would be minor, because regards the identity of the self, that is at the same level, of what I consider to be the function of gender, and of the interaction of both, which is where arises an outcome, that in a second momentum, will be integrated, into what I considerer as a major function, that’s the self-concept. In this sense, I think that gender, is more than a mere construct, because as occurs with the identity of the self, its function is autonomous, therefore, allows an interaction of mutual influence. In this way, functionally speaking, both are inseparable, due to the fact, that what actually makes possible, the action on other’s gender, in order that these may change, is what I am going to name, the degree of binding intimacy, which is in turn, the parameter that defines, regarding various environments, the different categories of relationships. In consequence, the latter, would require necessarily, the presence of the ego function, since is what determines the degree of intersubjective involvement, and consequently also determines, the level of depth, through which the other, beyond the individual’s willing, can redefine someone else’s gender, in other words, the third excluded, always affects individual’s degree of awareness and its freedom of choice.
Jacobsen: Of those primary environmental influences, what ones seem to provide the greatest amount of singular effects on individual gender?
Sorensen: There is a critical period, within the first two years of life, that I will name as the sexual stage of the mirror, and that’s going to be fundamental, in the development of the individual’s gender function, since the child would confront against castration, who plays, as happened in the history of Romulus and Remo, the role of its mother figure. In this manner, at some point, when he sees her naked, becomes aware that there is nothing covering its body, and that the physical differentiating part of it, even though is something discovered in a merely realness plane, is until that instance, what indicates him, why sexes are diverse. As if it was a logical sequence, that actually is not, a first reaction, with an overcharged sensation of shame and a feeling of guilty, appears in this scene of awareness, just due to the fact of having seen it, and for not having listened to the voice of its conscience, that was telling him not to do it, since apparently, was something that came from evil, and from some prohibition, regarding which, until that moment, nothing was said. The above, immediately, drives its will, in order to cover that discovery, with what I will denominate as the transitional gender object, since respect to it, the child is going to develop a strong attachment, especially when the maternal figure is not present, because through this mechanism, manages to calm its anguish of separation, as well as the trauma of having visually verified, in a forbidden body, the differential factor of castration. Once the child enters the world of language, begins the process of detachment from said object, which lasts, until the full symbolic incorporation into it, is achieved. Therefore, when the last occurs, the object is replaced with a name, that has to do directly with its individual gender. From then on, what primarily was just an enunciation, in the sense of being a transitory way, to relate itself with a punctual position, in the constellation of sexuation, becomes a function, that continues to evolve throughout life.
Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, Dr. Ben Yosef.
Sorensen: You are Welcome, Mr. Douglas.
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