Unraveling Abstract

Unraveling the Riddle of Exhibitionism: A Lesson in the Power Tactics of Perverse Interpersonal Relationships (2008) International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 2008. 89:143-160.

Abstract: Through an examination of the varied paradoxes embedded within the phenomenon of genital exhibitionism, the author establishes exhibitionism as a paradigm for interpersonal relations whereby one individual entices another to lose himself, to a benign or dangerous degree, in a presented portrayal/enactment. Efforts to entice that cause an extreme loss of the subject’s sense of self—making it exceedingly hard to break free of—are designed to render the subject powerless and take psychic possession of him. The perpetrator accomplishes this feat by interacting with his victim in ways capable of producing a sudden and profound regression with sufficient loss of autonomous ego functioning that the subject finds it hard, if not impossible, to act on his own behalf. The essential feature of the perpetrator’s efforts is his violation of the unspoken but understood rules of interpersonal engagement that, when violated, cause extreme disorientation and a loss of trust in one’s most basic assumptions about how humans treat one another. When this happens, we would describe the interaction as having been perverted to serve the exclusive needs of the predator—to gain as complete control over the other as possible.