Identity, Identification and Gender
Although the notion of identity is not a psychoanalytic concept, it is often used clinically. One speaks of identity problems, of one’s feeling of sexual identity… Nonetheless, tackling the question of identity implies inevitable contradictions, even deadlocks and will not spare us the concept of identification. For psychoanalysis, the notion of identity remains somewhat marginal as it is linked to a dynamic which is the result of an identificatory process: for want of an identity, the human being is “condemned” to identification.
One’s identity, the “conscious result” of unconscious processes of identification can be expressed through the fantasy of a periodic synthesis which the subject is obliged to accomplish despite the impossibility of doing so. It is also a sort of back-ground, having the contents of the repressed as a base, which gives each individual the feeling of on-goingness, a sort of “identificatory support” allowing repetition without being limited to such: identity “establishes” itself at every moment in a particular and paradoxical movement which is continually repeating itself. It rests upon an imaginary “demarcation line”, indicated through fantasies which permit the subject to “resolve” the paradox between what resembles him and that which is different. Referring to an ensemble of beings, identity is a repetition in terms; but it is also that which is unique when it designates particular characteristics identified as well by the I.
Thus, with regard to sexuality, one may only speak of a feeling, of belonging to the feminine or masculine gender. To speak of a “feeling of gender identity”, one must follow in Freud’s footsteps when he described the “oceanic feeling” even if the latter in not to be confused with the former. Nevertheless, in both cases we are confronted with feelings, experienced by the ego, whose contents are not objectively verifiable as they are subordinated to the world of fantasy. The feeling of sexual identity is thus closely linked to the contents of that which is repressed in each individual human being. This repressed material, which contains each person’s singular history, represents, in this sense, the identity of the subject, that which makes each human being unique: after all, it’s in the repressed that one finds the “history” of the choice of objects and drives, as well as the pathways of desire in quest of its hallucinatory fulfillment. On the other hand, when a subject evokes, with great certainty his or her feeling of sexual identity, the repression in place since the beginning of his or her life prevents access to the fantasy scenarios which underlie what he/she is telling us. (…)
Transsexualism, Sex and Gender. P Ceccarelli.
"The basic paradox of the Freudian notion of fantasy resides in the fact that it subverts the standard opposition of ‘subjective’ and ‘objective’: of course, fantasy is by definition not ‘objective’ (in the naïve sense of ‘existing independently of the subject’s perceptions’); however, it is also not ‘subjective’(in the sense of being reducible to the subject’s consciously experienced intuitions). Fantasy rather belongs to the ‘bizarre category of the objectively subjective – the way things actually, objectively seem to you even if they don’t seem that way to you’."
"All too often, when we love somebody, we don’t accept him or her as what the person effectively is. We accept him or her insofar as this person fits the co-ordinates of our fantasy. We misidentify, wrongly identify him or her, which is why, when we discover that we were wrong, love can quickly turn into violence. There is nothing more dangerous, more lethal for the loved person than to be loved, as it were, for not what he or she is, but for fitting the ideal."