Polymorphous perversity  

From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search

Related e



Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Polymorphous perverse is a psychoanalytic term for human ability to gain sexual gratification outside socially normative sexual behaviors. Sigmund Freud used this term to describe the normal sexual disposition of humans from infancy to about age five.


Freud’s theory

Freud theorized that humans are born with unfocused sexual libidinal drives, deriving sexual pleasure from any part of the body. The objects and modes of sexual satisfaction are multifarious, directed at every object that might provide pleasure. Polymorphous perverse sexuality continues from infancy through about age five, progressing through three distinct developmental stages: the oral stage, anal stage, and phallic stage. Only in subsequent developmental stages do children learn to constrain sexual drives to socially accepted norms, culminating in adult heterosexual behavior focused on the genitals and reproduction.

Freud taught that during this stage of undifferentiated impulse for sexual pleasure, incestuous and bisexual urges are normal. Lacking knowledge that certain drives are forbidden, the polymorphously perverse child seeks sexual gratification wherever it occurs. In the earliest phase, the oral phase, the child forms a libidinal bond with the mother via sexual pleasure gained from sucking the breast.

For Freud, "perversion" is a non-judgmental term. He used it to designate behavior outside socially acceptable norms.

Political jargon

Poststructuralist critics such as Gilles Deleuze (see Anti-Oedipus) and Judith Butler (see Gender Trouble) analyze the repression of polymorphous perversity through positing challenges to the Oedipal complex itself.

Popular Culture

  • In Celebrity, by Woody Allen, a female model (Charlize Theron) claims to be a polymorphic perverse, which the protagonist (Kenneth Branagh} finds exciting. This accentuates her sexual openess, which contrasts with the shy and clumsy nature of the main character.
  • In Annie Hall, also by Woody Allen, Allen's character tells his girlfriend he loves her because she is polymorphic perverse.

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Polymorphous perversity" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

Personal tools