Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Abortion II

A few days ago I published a post on abortion, in which I tried to get the basics of the issues surrounding abortion into a single post--virtually an impossible task.  I think it is time to tie the abortion issue more closely into a recurring theme on this blog:  Religion is a form of Narcissistic Personality Disorder in which the religious are trapped in the infantile state that Freud named "anal retentive".  Wikipedia describes this as follows:

"In the psychology of Freud, the anal stage is said to follow the oral stage of infant or early-childhood development. This is a time when an infant's attention moves from oral stimulation to anal stimulation (usually the bowels but occasionally the bladder), usually synchronous with learning to control his or her excretory functions, a time of toilet training. Freud theorized that children who experience conflicts during this period of time may develop 'anal' personality traits, namely those associated with a child's efforts at excretory control: orderliness, stubbornness, a compulsion for control."

Those stuck in this stage are very concerned with making sure that they always appear to be "good" and that the authority figures view them in a favorable light.  Another name for this particular type of narcissism is authoritarianism.

I think one of the best places to start making this connection clear is a recent article in RH Reality Check:  The Authoritarian Agenda Behind Attacks on Contraception.  The article was prompted by the reaction of male writers to a study showing that contraceptive use by Catholic women was nearly identical with that of women from other religions.

The author of that article, Amanda Marcotte, makes a very good case for her point that those who attack contraceptive use have an authoritarian agenda that has little to do with making anyone's life better--except perhaps for those few males who intend to be in authority.  She sees the agenda as inherently misogynistic.  I think, however, that she is giving them credit for more self-awareness, deviousness, and intelligence than they actually possess.

The opponents of birth control seem to be driven by an emotional belief that authoritarianism is a good thing in and of itself--the anal retentive fixation as a worldview.  In this case, the burden of the strictures they wish to impose on others just happens to fall primarily on women.  Of course, that fact combined with the fact that most of the leaders of the movement are male indicate that she is not completely wrong.  There is, undoubtedly, an implicit assumption that women should do as these men say, but I think that is as much or more a symptom of their narcissism as any explicit hatred of women.

I think the quotations she uses make clear that the motivations of the anti-contraceptive forces are indeed authoritarian.  The religious authors she quotes were clearly very concerned (to the point of obsession) with how female disobedience on contraception within their church made them appear to others.  This is a classic concern of the narcissistic obsession of "looking good".  In addition, there is more than a hint of sado-masochism in the implicit assumption that self-denial and suffering are good in and of themselves.  Just what one would expect from adults stuck in an anal retentive stage of development.

I highly recommend reading her article.  It is linked above.


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