5 September 2008

Psychosexual Development Applied





The Burberry Prorsum Spring 2009 collection was awash with clavicle bearing, 'crumpled classics' (click for my original review post), filled with a sense of fragility yet an underlying strength and idea of survival. The clothing was to show the survival of the old, yet interestingly in contrast it was celebrated by the fashion of the young. The droop of these scoop necks, combined with the ultra thin layering began talk of a new 'erogenous zone'.

An erogenous zone is essential a part of the body where there is heightened sensitivity, usually connected to sexual stimulation. This is due to the close proximity of a number of nerves to the surface of the skin, for example the sides of the neck, the lips and the genitalia. There is also the association of a heightened pulse with regards to sexual stimulation, and this is something that plays in with the idea of the erogenous zones. The fact that major blood vessels are close to the surface of the skin in the neck links to this idea. Similarily, the inside of the wrist, where major vessels are located, are also seen in this light. Indeed it is often said that you can tell whether someone likes you and is comfortable around you if they expose the inside of their wrist to you. As such the 'vessel proximity factor', for want of a better phrase, goes some way in explaining why we often spray perfumes on the inside of our wrists and our necks.

Although the idea of the erogenous exposed neck is quite new to men's fashion, the idea is oddly enough, something that has intriguied minds since the start of psychoanalysis. The psychoanalytical idea of the fully exposed neck was best portrayed by Man Ray in his 1930 photograph entitled 'Anatomies'.


Looking at the photograph one is confronted by an upturned neck, not exactly a threatening image. Indeed for many, it would seem that the model is the submissive and the photographer would be, in this position, in full control. However the image is still somewhat uncomfortable to behold.

The Surrealists were greatly influenced by the works of Sigmund Freud, and here Man Ray explores the idea from Freud's work on the Psychosexual Development of men, namely the deep seated 'fear of castration'. The upturned neck bears an uncanny resemblance, even though only slightly suggested, of a penis. As such this photograph begins to take on a whole new meaning, there is a sense of vulnerability and anxiety surrounding it. Although the model may seem to be the fragile one, it is actually the viewer that feels this anxiety. The brutal exposure of the 'penis' in this image means the male viewer is confronted with their own subconscious fears, as laid down by Freud.

For Freud, the Phallic period of a child's Psychosexual Development started at around the age of three. The child is slowly becoming aware and interested in the anatomical differences between the sexes. This period continues until the age of five where the child is able to focus their own desires, not necessarily sexual at this point, onto another individual. The child also begins to gain an innocent awareness of the senses regarding their sexual organs. As such Freud argues that the parents' response to their child engaging this curiousity at this stage has a lifelong effect on them. Here the deep seated 'fear of castration' is first engaged. The boy will see that the girl has no penis, and he may think that it has been lost. He may think it was in response to misbehaviour, and as such anxiety is onset lest the same were to happen to him. Freud argues that this genital difference instills the child from an early age of the notion of male superiority and female inferiority. This is only the start of a complex analysis by Freud on the 'fear of castration', however hopefully allows for a basic understanding.

From a Freudian perspective there is something known as a 'Reaction Formation'. Here the individual may misperceive a subconscious 'wish' as a 'fear'. For example an anally retentive individual may have an aversion and dislike for dirt, due to constraints in their childhood. As such they have a 'fear' of dirt and keep their home as tidy as possible. However Freud would say they may actually have a 'wish', meaning they want to be allowed for once to make a mess, that they were denied of making as a child. However as adults this fear is put in place by their super-ego. As such a reaction formation is a counter phobia to combat their subconscious fears. One such example in an extreme case would be that a male with a love of knives, may subconsciously be masking a fear of castration, through the counter phobia method, they empower themselves through their fear.

Filtering these basic Freudian ideas down, one begins to understand the 'fragility' behind the Collection. Here the subconscious male 'fear' is actually embraced and celebrated through the exposure of the neck and aesthetic prominence it is given. Rather than Man Ray exploring the anxiety through his photography, this collection uses it as an undeniable strength.



Currently playing: Six Days ft. Mos Def - DJ Shadow

xxxx

23 comments:

  1. Such a great post! I think it's so interesting to read about Freud.
    xx

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  2. This post was very interesting, i love the collection and i think it's great how you have looked into the meaning of the collection and what it ideally represents.
    Wonderful post. I loved the 4th outfit in the pictures the most.
    Bye
    x

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  3. That Man Ray photo is fantastic!! I'm with fashion-obsessed, very interesting post!

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  4. Really interesting take on mens fashion incorporating Freudian analysis - I am a big fan!!

    xoxox,
    CC

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  6. can i just say i loved that post? kudos for that well explained intellectual (huh?) :) post. well burberry must have a dapper kid in the design department. no, i don´t think so. u are one of a kind. hihi

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  7. Thank you so much for commenting my feature !! :)

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  8. wow...very cool and informative post. love the photos too. I'm a bit of a messy person, but you could probably tell that with my writing..

    Have a wonderful weekend. Cooling off here. I want to find scarf and sweeters.

    Thanks for reading..too.

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  9. Thank you for such a great review of the collection! The ideas behind Burberry are amazing...

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  10. such a great post, really inspiring to delve into a deep subject! loves it xo

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  11. i love that analysis and the way u start the post but the end is so creepy !!!

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  12. wow wow wow. what an interesting post. i read all about that freud stuff in highschool oh gosh it still confuses the heck out of me.

    thanks so much for your well wishes on my grandma :) they were so lovely to read.

    p.s i'm linking you. i think you're definately one of a kind!

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  13. the second i saw the man ray photo i felt oddly anxious and so your explanation was a comfort. it's so weird how unseen anxieties have a somewhat logical explanation or speculation or whatever. you always have such intriguing posts that bring fashion out of it's frivolous dreams into a more logical understanding. i like it!

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  14. That Man Ray photo is haunting and beautiful at the same time! I remember reading something in Valerie Steel's 'Fashion & Eroticism' book about Freud's thoughts on certain items of dress representing male and female private parts. Like the shoe for a woman (since you slip your foot in it), fur for pubic hair, and the tie for men. I think you would really find that book interesting!!

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  15. This is really fascinating, ended up reading lots more about freud on the internet after reading this! Thank you:-)

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  16. I liked your pic best..so cool.

    Great post!

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  17. Fascinating post, I really enjoyed reading it.

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  18. I found this post to be so brilliant! I love the way you present the Burberry collection by not only showing photos, but also look into what it means and what it stands for. Thank you for doing this post!

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  19. your jaw and neck looks sexy.
    :)

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  20. it's another thinking fashion blog. cool. nice to meet you.

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  21. This post was FANTASTIC!
    So interesting that even me, with my 3 second attention span, actually read the entire thing.

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  22. i loved this post! like kat from a few comments above, i read some more about freud, you have piqued my interest :)

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