Women's Corporeal Consciousness and Experience
Dr. Nelson Soucasaux, Brazilian gynecologist
I believe it is valid to consider women as possessing a much greater
capacity of experiencing their own bodies than men do. This means the existence,
in the female sex, of a highly developed corporeal consciousness, with a
greater and stronger mind-body interaction. This fact is of great importance
in gynecologic practice, because it predisposes women to an intense projection
of psychological conflicts on their sexual organs and correlated areas.
From the psycho-sexual point of view, it also accounts for the very accentuated
self-erotic and narcissistic feature of female sexuality, resulting on the
fact that many women have, to a considerable extent, their own bodies as
sexual objects for themselves. This gives rise, in the female sex, to a
kind of eroticism endowed with a somewhat "centripetal" nature,
of which women themselves are the "center."
As a consequence of several specific aspects of female nature, there
is a highly developed psycho-physical and corporeal self-perception. The
typical women's narcissism in relation to their bodies, the great concern
of the most feminine women with their personal aesthetics (which by far
exceeds the corresponding care existing in men), the enormous effort with
which they beautify themselves all of this clearly demonstrates women's
strong liaison with their bodily nature. Nevertheless, even before this,
various physiological features of the female sex (among them the direct
and indirect consequences of the cyclical actions of the ovarian hormones)
oblige women to pay great attention to several events that occur in their
For different reasons of physiological order, they have to be constantly
attentive to the intimacy of their bodies and to their sexuality. The signs
and sensations that precede menstruation (from the usual slight premenstrual
symptoms to the intense and severe premenstrual syndrome), the very peculiar
and unique experience of the menstrual bleeding (with or without uterine
cramps), the genital secretions, the psychological changes related to the
phases of the cycle, the complexity of the female sexual response, the awareness
that, since in active sexual life, a pregnancy can occur which creates
a constant worry to avoid undesired gestations , all of this produces
a strong link between women and their bodies. When they become pregnant,
this is one more condition of intense corporeal and organic experience.
There is a great amount of libido in the female body because a lot of
sensations specifically related to sexuality are constantly produced in
it. Because of this, the woman's body becomes an easy "target"
for the somatizations of many female emotional and psychological problems.
As a result, physiological symptoms can be intensified and many dysfunctions
and disorders can appear. It is obvious that when somebody concentrates
great attention on specific parts or functions of the body, not only does
the aptitude to perceive the sensations originating there increase, but
also some capacity of subconsciously interfering in these functions can
be acquired. If worries and neurotic fixations related to them appear, various
disturbances can occur through the psychosomatic pathways, creating a vicious
Women direct a greater part of their libido to their own bodies than
men do and, as we have seen, there are important physiological reasons for
this. I want to make it clear that I use the concept of libido in the sense
proposed by C.G. Jung, concerning the whole psychical energy, and not in
the Freudian sense, that considers the libido as exclusively sexual. In
order to avoid conceptual misunderstandings, whenever I speak about the
intense corporeal experience characteristic of women, it is essential to
understand that all of the experiences regarded as "corporeal"
are, in reality, psychological experiences related to the body. All of the
human experience is always psychological, because, from the phenomenological
point of view, all of it occurs in the realm of the mind.
Therefore, I believe that women have a much more intense psychological
experience of their own bodies than men do because they centralize a great
amount of their mental energy (libido) to the attention directed at the
diverse aspects of their physical constitution. From the psychological and
philosophical points of view, the evident narcissistic and even self-erotic
features typical of most women, allied to other characteristics of their
sexuality, allow us to consider women as being and possessing what we could
call the "erotic body" by nature.
In the female body there are also much more erogenous zones than in
the male one and, in a way, we can say that, to a great extent, almost all
of the woman's body functions as a sexual organ. On this subject it is pertinent
to observe that, in women, the physical sense that seems to be more important
for arousing the sexual desire is touch differently from men, whose
desire is mostly stimulated by sight. In symbolic terms, Julius Evola, in
his book "The Metaphysics of Sex" speaks about the deep symbolic
meaning of the anatomic fact that ". . . while the sexual organs in
men are something circumscribed, separated and almost as something added
from the exterior to the rest of the body, these organs are found in women
in profundity, in the innermost part of their bodies" (Evola, J.
"A Metafísica do Sexo," Edições Afrodite,
Portugal, 1976). Though this being a symbolic observation, we cannot deny
the great importance of symbolism to the human mind. The superb works of
C.G. Jung clearly demonstrate the enormous psychological value of the symbols.
The text above is an excerpt from my book "Novas Perspectivas
em Ginecologia" ("New Perspectives in Gynecology"),
published by Imago Editora, Rio de Janeiro, 1990. For more information on
the book, see page http://www.nelsonginecologia.med.br/novas.htm
, from my Website www.nelsonginecologia.med.br .
Copyright Nelson Soucasaux 1990, 2002.
Nelson Soucasaux is a gynecologist dedicated to clinical, preventive
and psychosomatic gynecology. Graduated in 1974 by Faculdade de Medicina
da Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, he is the author of several
articles published in medical journals and of the books "Novas Perspectivas
em Ginecologia" ("New Perspectives in Gynecology") and "Os
Órgãos Sexuais Femininos: Forma, Função, Símbolo
e Arquétipo" ("The Female Sexual Organs: Shape, Function,
Symbol and Archetype"), published by Imago Editora, Rio de Janeiro,
©2002 Harry Finley. It is illegal
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