REGRESSION: The psychic reversion to childhood desires. When normally functioning desire meets with powerful external obstacles, which prevent satisfaction of those desires, the subject sometimes regresses to an earlier phase in normal psychosexual development. "Regression," as a term, is closely connected to the term, fixation; the stronger one's fixations on earlier sexual objects (eg. the mouth, the anus), the more likely that, when a subject is confronted with obstacles to heterosexual satisfaction, that subject will respond by way of regression to an earlier phase. Example: a normally functioning woman is dumped by her boyfriend and starts over-eating (thus regressing to the oral phase). Regression can result either in neurosis (if accompanied by repression) or in perversion: "A regression of the libido without repression would never produce a neurosis but would lead to a perversion" (Introductory Lectures 16.344). In our example, the neurotic begins over-eating; the pervert gives up men and becomes a lesbian (a sexual identity that Freud saw as perversion, though many have since critiqued him on this point).
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