četrtek, 24. december 2020

Until when to lie to children that there exist Santa Claus and St. Nicholas?!

Written by: Roman Vodeb


Recently, at the web ZOOM-conference, I had a cursory discussion about the harmfulness of parents' deception of children by the fact that Santa Claus doesn't really exist – neither St. Nicholas, nor a tooth mouse, a good fairy and similar mythological characters. In these times, young parents, as well as grandparents, have slight doubt about when – to what age – it makes sense to lie to children about the existence of these mythological creatures or characters. Regarding the fact  that various conspiracy theories have literally gone crazy in these times, they are in a kind of (failed) way – parents as well as grandparents, aunts and uncles – need to be told, taught that it's really a bit harmful if children are deceived for too long about the existence of the mentioned mythological »heroes«, creatures or characters, because a child who has been deceived for too long time, may begin in adulthood chronically and fanatically – and of course erroneously – believe in various conspiracy theories.

Slovenia is considered to be a country – almost a record holder – where a lot of people mentally fall prey to the thesis – thus conspiracy theory – that vaccinating children is harmful, and consequently it is also »in« an a priori resistance to vaccination against the new corona virus. Also, the introduced technology 5G confused many Slovenes and aroused a lot of revolt. Even the idea of harmfulness – even lethality – of aircraft exhausts (chemtrails) had permeated many Slovenes. However, it seems that the increase of such conspiracy theories began almost 20 years ago, when Talibans by the three kidnapped passenger planes demolished the both WTC-skyscrapers, but the third plane crashed on Pentagon. The theory of conspiracy that appeared then all over the world and also with us was that the Americans themselves demolished the both of WTC skyscrapers (towers) in a way that they mined them – but there were no planes at all.

Freud attributed such bizarre and grotesque belief that people have believed since prehistoric times, when science was not yet born, to misleading children about the truth about the sexual conception and the birth of children. Freud explained this in his scriptures from the year 1907 and 1908 (»On sexual enlightenment of children« and »On infantile sexual theories«). Nowadays, however, the children are massively misled around one other topic. It concerns the fundamental deception that did not exist centuries ago and it is: the introduction of the belief in St. Nicholas and also in the last centuries in Santa Claus. Such deceptions are harmful in the long run because a child around the age of five can already explain many things to himself – also the fact that Santa Claus or St. Nicholas don't exist in reality; those that the presents are brought by parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. With autonomous logical reasoning the young curious person spontaneously opposes his parents – the first authorities – who deceive him around that pre-Christmas and/or New Year's gifting. This annoying paradigm of opposing the first authorities who deceive him and vehemently lie to him is important because the foundation settles in the child's psyche on which they will oppose in adulthood to many authorities who will proclaim certain elusive truths.

When a new corona virus (COVID-19) appeared in China at that time last year, I knew for myself exactly how conspiracy theories would start to appear all over the world, saying that something was hiding in the background – a kind of »forbidden value«, conspiracy against humanity. My prediction was based on knowing how »infantile primacy« (»firstness«) – that is childhood symbolically returns to adulthood as a revived »otherness« (»secondness«), it is the trigger of this symbolic revival, it is a kind of a secret or non-transparency that has megalomaniacal or even sensationalistic social influence of dimension. Just as it was a real sensation for the child that some »little man« (or old man in red/white clothes with white beard) was carrying presents in December (or that a »tooth mouse« for a pulled out tooth brought him money), or that so to speak »from a scratch« (»from nowhere«) appeared in his life a small brother or small sister (or even twins) and it was also for an adult person sensational that (due to the crashed planes demolish two of WTC-skyscrapers or that a man came to the Moon or that so to speak »overnight« (in China appeared a deadly virus).

People who have been deceived by their parents too sovereignly and for too long around Santa Claus and St. Nicholas, or who have even lied to them in the embrace of shame that the children are carried by a stork, confuse a smart child who, in his own way knows that the authorities lie to him about this topic. And the feeling that the official science (governments, NASA, FBI, illuminates, »deep state«, »world mafia«, George Soros, Bill Gates …) lie, is almost psychotic, completely misleading, unrealistic. Many people are chronically obsessed by such kind of conspiracy theories – it usually concerns the same people. (They are regular guests with us in Slovenian TV-show »Chat over coffee«, with the presenter Jasmina Kandorfer).

Therefore – dear parents (grandparents, uncles and aunts) – don't lie to your children too long! Stop misleading them, if the children have already found out, so to speak, for themselves that what you are telling them when you are misleading them, lying to them, is not true. At the moment when the child (already) by himself by a logical reasoning, doubts – he may have heard this from others, from his peers – he finds out that you are misleading him and sovereignly lying to him, you must reveal the truth in a considerate and careful manner. You must know that the December gifting always means the pleasure of those ones who give gifts – thus for the pleasure of the parents that give presents to the children and they are consequently misleading them; children's enjoyment when they receive gifts in reality – theoretically (in this context) – in its own way is not essential.

ponedeljek, 25. maj 2015

Manipulation, the Unconscious, Psychoanalysis …

Manipulation is the control of people without their awareness. People who are being managed and manipulated are like marionettes in the hands of others (i.e. the manipulators). Manipulated people are outwitted – one way or another – directly (by tricks or deception) or indirectly (through ideology). Inevitably, people are always being manipulated – it is an inherent part of their natural psychological functioning.
If Freud had been writing a book concerning psychological manipulation, it would probably have been the thickest book of all his writings. Fortunately – or unfortunately – Freud never examined the issue of manipulation through psychoanalysis.  In his time, neither parliamentary democracy nor market capitalism existed as it is known today. The paradigm of both, monarchy and autocratic government of state or people has different characteristics – mostly related to transference – than parliamentary democracy. In the time of Freud, market capitalism has not yet been developed to the level of merciless manipulation of consumers. In his time or towards the end of his life, pathological consumers, as they are known today, were only being born.

Smart Eddy and Stupid Jack [1]
Edward Bernays (1891-1995), Freud’s (“double”) nephew, was the one biting the bullet of pathological consumerism. At the beginning, he did not know much about psychoanalysis. Yet, it is the field of science that tells us the most about psychological manipulation. By applying psychoanalysis to psychological manipulation, Bernays focused on product advertising. Later on, his main point of interest became politics, in particular people (public) “management” for the needs of politics; in other words, to gain and maintain power and authority, hegemony, even across borders. In order to be a successful manipulator (e.g. to trick people – consumers – through deceptive marketing), Bernays had to rely on well-educated psychoanalysts. Abraham A. Brill was the one who informed Bernays that a cigarette is a symbol of penis – i.e. masculinity and masculine power. Only after learning about that interpretative psychoanalytical clue, Bernays joined an advertising (commercial, propaganda) campaign for an American Tobacco Company. By manipulating cigarette buyers (actual and potential smokers), he relied on several basic concepts already introduced to the discipline of psychoanalysis by his uncle, the father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud. Manipulation – either carefully planned or quietly expected, or even unplanned and spontaneous – is based on some (psychoanalytic) ground or (theoretical) facts:
  • A person is controlled by the unconscious; the unconscious is the centre of person’s mentality.
  • The basic attribute of the unconscious (subconscious) is the unconscious desire.
  • Reasons for conscious desire or volition are always unconscious.
  • A person is (in principle) suggestible; a person is led by an authority figure, perhaps an idea that directs him, manipulates him, manages him (without one being aware of it).
  • A person is guided by the principle of comfort (pleasure) – its basic/fundamental attribute is sexuality (both covertly and overtly – sexuality in a broad and narrow sense).
  • Money is equivalent to the principle of comfort. It presents both attributes, anal and phallic – on the one hand, it is a symbol of a child’s first gift – his faeces – and on the other hand, a symbol of a penis.
  • An inherent part of psychological manipulation paradigm is often the famous transference, introduced by Freud for the purpose of understanding psychological praxis; sometimes it is the transference that makes psychological outwitting or manipulation and management possible.
  • Lastly, the “desire of the (intra-psychic) Other” is placed within the manipulation praxis.
A euphemism for various types of manipulation (tricks, deception, “brainwashing,” etc.) is “public relations.” Simply put, Bernays’ question or idea was: how to outwit people, how to deceive them, how to brainwash them, to make them adopt a forced political idea or belief, or how to purchase and sell an item, even if the buyers do not need it. Only the manufacturer and merchant (capitalist) would like to sell it and earn some money. When talking about manipulation, (marionette-like) people, public management, or “handling,” it is always about the application of certain “moves,” tricks, or deceptions. Edward Bernays was successful in his field of science (and in psychological theory) – thanks to his uncle, Sigmund Freud, and psychoanalysis. If a person wants to obtain manipulative managing skills from a book, one should read both Bernays’s books: Propaganda, 1928 and Public Relations, 1945, as well as the essay “Engineering of Consent,” 1947. In 1955, the same title was given to a book written by several authors.
Bernays was definitely a master of psychological manipulation. However, that does not mean that he had the knowledge of the entire theoretical background behind his own ideas and his intuitive or unconscious feelings. In this regard, another minor detail is important: Bernays was “corrupt” enough to consider psychological manipulation as morally acceptable. At the same time, he was narcissistic and obsessed with being worshiped and famous because of his skills of psychological manipulation.
The moral context poses problems and impediments to those of us who possess psychoanalytical knowledge which can be used for the manipulation of the masses. We do not think – at least I do not – that it is morally acceptable to persuade people (intentionally and targeted) or to put it differently, to outwit them (“outsmart” them with different tricks, deceptions, schemes, to brainwash and manipulate them) under a false pretence that these are examples of (classic) “political communication” or “modern marketing approaches.”
The current social and political crisis and the recession encourages us, especially those of us possessing “special” knowledge and skills, to persuade rich people with money stocked in banks (in the form of capital or real estate) to spend it so it would be back in circulation. It would not matter if this was done through manipulation tricks; as long as it is “for the greater good, kindness or ethics.” Knowledge (i.e. manipulation skills) exists; it is only a matter of someone powerful, a politician, state or government official turning to those of us who have it and ask for help.

Democracy = Manipulation
In my opinion[2], democracy is a failed political paradigm because the voters do not have the free will to decide who to vote for. The voters are always manipulated, they are always duped and they are always outwitted and deceived. Manipulation is not necessarily anticipated. In one way or another, the voters are always “brainwashed.” Psychological manipulation is possible due to the basic laws of human mentality mentioned in the introduction. The fundamental law governing manipulation is: “The consciousness does not know what the unconscious really thinks.” The paradox of manipulation is that the manipulated (the victim of manipulation), and often the manipulator, are not aware of manipulation, and the manipulator does not know how he manipulates people. On the other hand, the manipulator is being used and manipulated by a purchaser of manipulation. The purchaser of manipulation is also not aware of manipulation by his own unconscious by, in Lacan’s words, “the desire of the Other.” The fact that someone wants to use others, manipulate them, appropriate something out of comfort or pleasure, is the “desire of the (intra-psychic) Other” or determined processes, motives or causes unknown to the consciousness. The entire (wider) circle of manipulation is thus vicious.
In the last century, the best experts in psychological manipulation have been the most respected people with the highest income. From an ethical point of view, this is one of the biggest failures of human society. In his time and throughout the 20th century, Bernays was one of the most influential people in the USA. Due to his knowledge and manipulation skills, people all over the world were in awe of him. Considering (political and social) power and authority as a drug “taken” by men in the political (and economic) spheres, it is clear that the largest psychological manipulation schemes occur in the world of international politics, as well as in the military (economy and business). Skills and “tricks” from political marketing are like manipulation or the act of outwitting. Experts in political marketing use schemes, tricks and deceptions to persuade people to vote a certain politician or accept a certain ideology. Due to their skills, they are awarded money, social prestige and other privileges, which often presents an ethical dilemma. In the traditional (consumerist) marketing, the silent imperative is structured around the idea or ideology that the consumers should be convinced to buy something that they do not need or even had no intention of buying. The real manipulation is the one that is planned, intentional and accomplished by the manipulator or the purchaser of manipulation. The culmination of pure manipulation is subliminal or unconscious advertising (with all its derivatives).

Subliminal or Unconscious Advertising – Planned and Unplanned 
Many people can discuss manipulation wisely and in a likeable way. However, psychoanalysis is a mental concept explaining this topic, and subliminal or unconscious advertising in more detail. Subliminal or unconscious advertising is the most effective way of brainwashing or manipulating people. Even successful and inventive creators of specific advertising messages (advertisement, video advertisements or political campaigns) do not realize how (when, why and in what way) they affect consumers or voters.  It is often an unintended, unplanned and unconscious influence or mediation. It ensures that the person who is being influenced is unaware of the message being directly transferred or foisted into their unconscious, e. g., a hint to purchase a certain product or elect a certain person. Unconscious or subliminal advertising spread around the globe in the period of Bernays’s advertising activities. Numerous advertising experts began to adopt Bernays’s or psychoanalytical strategies. In the middle of the 1950s, the well-known Coca-Cola advertisement of a female silhouette in an ice cube, demonstrating fellatio, triggered enormous amounts of subliminal or unconscious advertising. The psychological laboratories preformed experiments confirming that human consciousness is non-autonomous. Hence, consciousness can be manipulated and influenced by the will of others. The manipulated consciousness eventually accepts this will as its own. Such hypocritical and subtle framing can be called “brainwashing.” Nowadays, “brainwashing” is a domain of the so called neuro-linguistic programming (NLP). Before NLP became popular, people could be directly and completely brainwashed through hypnosis. Almost everything that could not be censored by the strong super-ego could be forced into the unconscious and subconscious of the most suggestible individuals. It is most likely that Lee Harvey Oswald assassinated John F. Kennedy under hypnosis or a strong posthypnotic suggestion, therefore, he could have been skilfully “brainwashed.” This possibility was confirmed in an experiment by hypnosis and NLP experts. Various films[3] showed that whilst ignoring ideology, it is possible to quickly, efficiently and directly “brainwash” people, manipulate them and to instil different ideas, volitions or wishes into their unconscious.
Mechanisms or concepts intervening subliminally into the unconscious or directly “brainwashing,” were merely perceived and presented in theory by Freud. His nephew Bernays, however, implemented them unmercifully. The story is even more horrific since all possibilities of hypocritical intervention into the unconscious or manipulation of consumers or voters have not even been used yet. If people who know the methods and strategies of “brainwashing” or manipulation had no ethical restraints, people would be manipulated from all directions.
According to the above mentioned, goals in ball games are in reality not goals but symbols of a vagina which adds another dimension to the story. Scoring goals may be symbolically coitus or a simulation of a sexual act. It would be difficult to say that players are manipulated: they do not know that the game may actually symbolize sexual perversity, pornography, even an orgy in which the players ‘rape’ a significant female of the opponent, and in doing so, they find this highly enjoyable (beyond this manifest pleasure is the latent/symbolic coitus and (symbolic) castration of the opponent). The players are manipulated by their unconscious (subconscious) or their Symbolic; therefore, it cannot be stated that this is the real, traditional and pure consumerist manipulation. It is not manipulation when at important ball sport championships, “suspicious businessmen,” the pimps, place their “workers,” the prostitutes, near stadiums, restaurants and hotels knowing that the spectators may want sexual pleasure and services. It has been shown that spectators, especially men, experience increased sexual craving at the time of important championships. These do not include volleyball or tennis games since these two sports do not include the goal paradigm.
Similar but conceptually different sport manipulation takes place when the state sport ideologist or the control, regulation and discipline ideologist tries to manipulate people through (fantasy or latent sexual) sport exploitation. The most militant state ideologists use sport manipulatively to achieve carefully planned control, discipline and regulation of crowds, especially amongst young people. They do it in the sense of: “Play sports and be placid and calm, enjoy sports and do not cause trouble.” Their lure and a cover-up is a “scientific” remark and an excuse that sport is healthy (and beneficial because of its many positive effects on health). In reality, sport may be (symbolically sexually) exhibiting the male ego. The fact that an athlete may be a “subject of privilege considered by females” may not yet be realized by sport ideologists or control, regulation and discipline ideologists nor “experts” in marketing (the market manipulators).
Nevertheless, those of us who engage in psychoanalysis know precisely that sexuality undermines conscious illusion and many principles, including moral. The easiest way to manipulate, outwit or force an idea on someone is through the medium of sexuality. This has been known since the time of Freud; since Bernays’s time, however, it has been used as a method of manipulation, or worse yet, abused as psychoanalytical knowledge. In my opinion, the problem is not the drafting of the concept plan of marketing campaigns – the problem is whether or not this is appropriate or ethical. Those of us who have the knowledge of the methods underlying manipulating, exploitation or abuse, hesitate to question whether this is ethical or not. Driven by capitalism and pathological consumerism, Bernays did not exercise similar restraints. It is not a secret that he was unethical and pathologically narcissistic, as it is unsurprising  that he ended up assisting politicians and the government, and that they abused his knowledge severely for political and even military purposes – i.e., the American military intervention in Guatemala, which began with the banana trade.
The trouble with knowing the theory of manipulation is that people simply follow their intuition. Consequently, certain ideas about how people could be deceived, controlled, manipulated, and brainwashed are formed in their unconscious despite not knowing about the theoretical or psychoanalytic background. Nowadays, the main experts in marketing (manipulation of consumers) or political marketing (manipulation of voters) do not know the concepts of psychoanalysis very well. Those of us who are slightly more familiar with psychoanalysis or the human psyche, especially the unconscious and sexuality, know what these great “experts” in marketing and political marketing have in mind. And it is frightening when we realize how the system, i.e., the socio-economic system, including (market and consumerist) capitalism, as well as democracy and political paradigm, based on “free” elections, really works. Consumers, as well as voters are always manipulated, exploited and are never free. The main issue is not that the unconscious controls people; the problem is that people are influenced by experts with manipulative skills, abilities, and knowledge – and precisely these people attack the (unsuspecting) human unconscious.
The human unconscious absorbs everything from its environment. The basic characteristic of one’s mentality and the unconscious is one’s suggestibility, the susceptibility for “suggestions” or intrusions from outside, from others. The most perverse manipulation is that which directly attacks the human unconscious. And then, the “indoctrinated” fools believe that their purchase and voting decisions are the result of free will.

After All
Considering the fact that people are prisoners of their unconscious, that the perception of free and autonomous will is always a mere illusion, a kind of unplanned “manipulation” is practically always present because this is a part of their permanent psychic functioning. In reality, they are not aware of the true motives behind their actions but think that they are a result of free (conscious) will/decision. This is the basic human error that was discovered with the help of psychoanalysis. The structural problem here lies in the fact that a conceptual mistake cannot be proven. Many (ego)psychologists and similar “experts” still do not accept Freud’s epistemic break or the “Copernican turn” in understanding human spirituality, which is troublesome. Actually, the epicentre (and the essence) of human mentality is not the conscious but the unconscious. Furthermore, people are never autonomous in their decisions, never have free will, and are always controlled and manipulated by their unconscious or simply put their subconscious. The sheer manipulation by the manipulator is subsequent; due to the notion or the concept of human unconscious. One is always a slave to the unconscious and consequently double-blind. The first blindness derives from the before-mentioned fact that human consciousness (in reality) does not know what their unconscious (in reality) thinks and/or desires. The other blindness is more complicated. Namely, the real or the “real real,” as Lacan would put it, is symbolic (which is constituently unconscious and inaccessible to the sense of the ego and the censorship of the super-ego, i.e., the consciousness) – and this is not a rhetorical phrase. The symbolic is primary (the primary process) and is in domain of the id; consciousness is secondary. As it is with dreams, which have to be first decoded from manifest into latent shape for one to be able to understand what he or she dreams about, we have to first decode the (manifest) events/happenings in wakefulness. In other words, we have to solve the latent symbolic of a certain event/action/happening, to be able to know the (latent) essence of what happens to us in wakefulness, in everyday life.

Translated by: Špela Fleisinger, Vesna Krofl, Marina Korpar, Marko Maričnik
Reviewed and edited by: Kristina Kočan Šalamon and Lainey Keane

Full version - part 1 and part 2 (in Slovenian language): http://www.publishwall.si/roman.vodeb/post/89248/manipulacija-nezavedno-psihoanaliza-1-del

[1] http://www.balkanmagazin.net/nauka/cid144-32159/pametni-edi-i-glupi-dzek
[2] http://www.rtvslo.si/blog/roman-vodeb?&page=26
[3]The Manchurian Candidate (2004),  Now You See Me (2013). Recently, a hypnotizer Derren Brown and an illusionist Steven Frayne Dynamo are the ones introducing the public to the biggest frauds.

ponedeljek, 25. junij 2012

Interpretation of Sport
Roman Vodeb’s fourth monograph


More than 100 years ago, Sigmund Freud published his first book, The Interpretation of Dreams (1899), the groundwork of psychoanalysis, which meant a turning point in how the human mind was seen at that time. According to Freud, it was unconsciousness that took the leading position in the human mind, while consciousness came in second position. According to Freud, dreams represented »the royal path to unconsciousness«. The birth of psychoanalysis had been marked a few years before that with Freud’s article on hysteria (1895). Both hysteria as a mental disorder, and sport are yet another two examples of “a path to unconsciousness”.

The essence of unconsciousness is libidinal, ie. sexual. In all its forms and structures, sport is not what it appears to be: it is latently sexual. In order to get to know the true essence of sport, its games and rituals first have to be decoded or translated. One has to reach beyond sport and look into its unconscious or latent-symbolic structure. This is the basis of this new theory which presents an epistemological cut (a revolution) in sportology. Until now, sport theorists have not dared to write in such a provocative manner, nor have they known how to go about it, since this requires a thorough familiarity of psychoanalytic, ie. Freud’s, concepts.

Vodeb’s theory will be summed up in some fundamental theses, the most significant of them being the idea that sport has a latent structure and is not only what can be (manifestly) seen. Just as dreams have their double structure, so does sport. In fact, the situation is identical. According to Freud, the basic feature of dreams is that they represent an implementation of unconscious desire. The basic thesis of the present theory is that unconscious desire also plays a leading role in the aetiology of sport. The way the desire is sexual when it comes to discussing dreams, it is just as sexual when it is applied to sports.

Desire for sexual intercourse (between man and woman) forms the sexual epicentre from the phallic stage onward. In his works Three essays on the theory of sexuality and Little Hans, Freud has tried to prove that a boy unconsciously wants to “do something” with his mother, and that “something” proves to be sexual intercourse (coitus). It is this unconscious desire for sexual intercourse that takes the most significant place in the human mind – of both men and women. There are a number of symbols in sports that can be linked to sexual intercourse. For instance, the goal or the basket is a typical representative of sexuality in the latent structure of football, or handball, hockey, basketball, golf, snooker etc. It is a symbol of or a substitute for the female genitals, ie. the vagina, which gives rise to the thesis that sport was invented because of men’s unconscious desire for women and having sexual intercourse with them.

This symbolic structure underlies much pleasure that comes out of sport. When Jason Naismith brought basketball into being in 1891, he did not merely bring it into being, he desired it into being, taking it out of his unconscious desire for women or, rather, for having sexual intercourse with them. This unconscious desire, which is consciously present and manifest in a person’s adulthood, is what one cold Springfield winter drove Naismith to put a peach basket at a place difficult to reach, telling his athletes to throw balls into it. In so doing, they were playfully »copulating« (with) the basket and experiencing pleasure. In just a few years’ time, the basketball league was being played all over Northern America.

From the point-of-view of Vodeb’s theory, a basket, or a goal or any other hole or cavity found in sports, is but a symbol of or a replacement for the vagina. At the latent level, pleasure derived out of playing basketball is sexual, as are the emotions the spectators are feeling while identifying with the players. If they defeat the opponent and thus symbolically castrate the sexual opponent (the »revived father«), euphoria is so much greater. On the one hand, maximum investments of psychic energy are a consequence of the child’s infantile (unconscious) presentiment of potential sexual intercourse with the mother and of the child’s repression of that very same desire. On the other hand, there is a conscious desire for sexual intercourse present throughout the adult period. The flow of unconscious thoughts does its part of the course. The libidinal (energetic) effect is so much greater owing to the associative connection with the experienced and repressed ideas of castration coming back from childhood.

A further analysis of pleasure in sport cannot disregard the Oedipus complex and the concept of castration. They both have a major impact on all events connected with sport. The (unconscious) infantile desire to eliminate (or castrate) the father as a sexual rival is repressed in childhood. The return of this repression is what makes grown men as competitive or as eager to win as they are. Men’s joy of winning derives from their repression of castration. It is connected to the unconscious infantile desire to defeat the father.

Theoretically speaking, there should be no women in (men’s) sports – but there are. Freud's reaction to the presence of women in men’s sports is that they look up to men and behave as men do. There is, no doubt, an infantile and unconscious »penis envy« at the back of women’s minds. With the goal and the basket being substitutes for the vagina, it is obvious that a woman cannot copulate with herself. Following men's example is the only theoretical alternative which could explain why women play basketball, football, handball, hockey etc. It takes a culture as liberal as is today to allow them doing these men’s sports. Men, especially coaches, were the ones who wanted women to become sportswomen - which makes these men »feminists per excellence«. When women became sportswomen, they adapted their phallic and boastful nature as well. They copied their behavioural patterns. Originally, women’s sports include dance, figure skating, rhythmic gymnastics, aerobics, synchronised swimming etc., which as such have a narcissistic character. It is the infantile (unconscious) »penis envy« that drives women to take up men’s sports. We can safely claim that women are not kept out of (men’s) sports, as feminists, coaches and sometimes even sportswomen themselves like to say, but are rather kept there against their true nature because of the liberal cultural views. The cultural and civilisation concepts, which are present in today’s Western-European and American cultures, are greatly influenced by the liberal and feminist ideologies.

Vodeb’s greatest emphasis, however, is that his psychoanalytic theory about the interpretation of sport has emerged from his pure desire to know even the unknowable. His views are provocative, they are radically different, bringing together knowledge of psychoanalysis, psychology, psychiatry and philosophy. This multi-disciplinarian approach is used in Vodeb’s second book: Sport through Psychoanalysis and this (fourth) book: The Interpretation of Sport. The two books or a selection of chapters deserve to be translated into English or any other world language.

Roman Vodeb, double M. A., is a Slovenian theoretical psychoanalyst and an independent scholar. He has published five books in which he applies psychoanalysis to sport, ideology of sport and gender. He writes for Slovene media, providing psychoanalytic interpretation of current social events and issues dealing with gender issues, politics, sport, culture and art.

torek, 5. junij 2012


psychoanalysis: GOOOAL! A HISTORICAL TREATMENT OF THE PARADIGM OF...: Roman Vodeb, Independent Scholar, Slovenia Abstract The paradigm of the goal constitutes one of the fundamental libidinal paradi...


Roman Vodeb, Independent Scholar, Slovenia

The paradigm of the goal constitutes one of the fundamental libidinal paradigms in the psychoanalytic conceptualization of ball games. Moreover, the concept of the goal reveals that the latent structure of sports games lies on libidinal foundations. Typical libidinal categories hiding beyond sports are: the Oedipus complex, castration, the repressed, unconscious desire, pleasure etc. A historical analysis of certain ball games shows that the paradigm of the goal in the structure of sports has not been transferred from one country to another or from one continent to another. It is only the libidinal disposition found in any heterosexually-structured male mind that is the essential disposition which brought to life the universal ball-sports paradigm in different places and time periods. The goal as a paradigm stems from an unconscious desire to have coitus with a female. Secondary elaboration, a concept taken from Freud’s interpretation of dreams, generates a diversity of supporting elements that constitute the rules of the game. It is due to the very secondary elaboration that the libidinal symbolic game becomes “playable”.
(Tim Vodeb - throwing ball from out over 50 m, World record) 

The following presentation stems from a complex psychoanalytic historical interpretation of ball sports, football, ie. association football and American football, in particular, as well as handball, hockey, water polo, rugby and basketball. A comprehensive theoretical treatment was given in the book entitled “Sport through Psychoanalysis” (Vodeb 2001) and some papers published over the last decade, culminating in the “Interpretation of Sports” (Vodeb 2005).

A classic introduction into football should begin with the phrase, "Football is the most important trifling matter in the world." It should have become clear by now that this contribution transcends classic discourse in that it leans heavily on meta-psychology, if not directly on philosophy, with the theoretical epicenter focused on the goal, viz. the goal in football or basketball or the touchdown in American football and rugby.

Little is known about sports or competitive games of the ancient times. Obviously, we were not there to witness what set the ball rolling, literally, what triggered the development of football or the concept of the goal as an area where something had to be put in, that something having the function of the modern-day ball. There is no time machine that would take us back in time to investigate the origin of the concept of the goal as the primary paradigm of ball games. The unreliability of various historical records and oral accounts makes us take a different approach towards the study of (pre)history in general, not merely the history of ball games or sports. Interpretation of historical events and (folklore) rituals can be safely based on an assumption that the human mind of both the present and the past followed the same algorithms. And if there is any science that contains any kind of knowledge about the human mind, it is definitely psychology or, to be more precise, Freud's psychoanalysis.

In spite of the untenability of this meta-science, both psychiatry and clinical psychology, which endeavor to cope with the human mind or mental pathos, go on employing the very starting points as established by Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, over a hundred years ago. He always claimed, in his Totem and Taboo (Freud 1979) in particular, that the mind of prehistoric people was exactly the same as is today, although the level of psychosis of primitive men was considerably higher. But even then, human beings were determined by their libidinal structure, which means that even then they were directed by the (unconscious) desire to experience satisfaction or pleasure. Needless to say that such pleasure was sexual. As soon as primitive man made his life secure, he (unconsciously) began to think how to make it pleasurable, too. Coital orgasm as the culmination of pleasure was the ("Id’s") imperative that secured the phylogenetic way of the human kind.

You may be wondering what on earth this has got to do with the goal as the primary paradigm in sports games? It is common knowledge that a goal is not only a goal, yet the theoretical apparatus supporting the idea of the latent sports structure is so untenable that it can be (legitimately) debunked by anyone, as cognitive skepticism can be always employed. However, this does not mean that the theory of the latent sports structure is not valid, especially if we choose to dissect sport by means of psychoanalysis. There can be, naturally, various nuances to the theory that sport is a derivative of libido and that it has an unconscious latent sexual structure. As Freud developed a theory about the innate bisexual nature of humanity, any (pan)sexual theory may be legitimate enough - and there must have been quite a few such theories even in Freud's time. A first “wild” generalization might be that sport, e.g. football, either association football or American football, has a latent homosexual structure. There is no end to such theories. One of the latest was developed by Californian folklorist Alan Dundes at Berkeley University, who interprets American football as a latent homosexual ritual (Dundes 1979, 1997). And Dundes was no pioneer in the field of psychoanalytic interpretation of (American) football and rugby or sports in general. As early as the beginning of the 20th century, George T. W. Patrick (Patrick 1903) tried to provide a psychological explanation of the fascinating character of sports games, of American football in particular. Patrick's attempt at interpreting sports games included the seeds of then born psychoanalysis. But it took another two decades before Abraham A. Brill, who had just been translating Freud into English, wrote The Way of Fun (Brill1929). This psychoanalytic interpretation served Thomas Hornsby Ferril as a basis for his parody essay Freud and Football, which he wrote in 1955 and published under the pseudonym of Childe Herald ten years later, when it was met with a wide response. The paper presents the Oedipus complex as an essential momentum in American football and sports in general. Nevertheless, we should bear in mind that Hornsby Ferril was more of an essayist and a journalist than a genuine psychoanalyst (Herald 1965: 250-252). Adrian Stokes chose a more serious approach by setting his focus on all ball games, especially cricket. Stokes was rather explicit in connecting the Oedipus complex to association football (Stokes 1956). We find Stokes especially relevant because he was a renowned psychoanalyst and made a clear connection between the paradigm of the goal and the female genitals, ie. the archetypal vagina (ibid: 190). In his theories, he swings between the theses that balls, especially in cricket and baseball, symbolize semen and that the ball represents the phallus, e.g. in football (ibid: 187). During that time, some "wild" and lay interpretations supported the thesis that the (round) football might symbolize the male testicles (Dundes 1979: 79). In the American gay lexicon from 1972, the idiom "to ball someone" means copulation (Rodgers 1972: 27). While probing the symbolic meaning of the ball and attempting to define the role of the mother and the father in ball games containing the paradigm of the goal, Dundes drifts into cognitive skepticism, the attitude that, eventually, any psychoanalyst is faced with (Dundes 1979: 79-80). In his folklorist theories, Dundes flirts with the idea of anal copulation, presenting American football as having a latent homosexual structure. Nevertheless, Dundes also uses heterosexual terms, e.g. when relating the touchdown to erogenous zones (ibid).

Our theoretical treatment does not support the above thesis, as the thesis of heterosexual (pan)sexualism entirely satisfies us in terms of interpretation. Psychoanalysts, however, have been puzzled by genetic research. Geneticists have recently raised their voices to deny the basic psychoanalytic thesis of the bisexual nature of human beings, thus turning many psychoanalytic theories, including that of Freud, upside down or sending them back to square one. The most remarkable opposition to Freud's and Fliss's theories on the bisexual nature of human beings can be illustrated by the life of a Canadian called David aka Bruce, who was born as a boy and whose penis was accidentally cut off during a routine circumcision. Dr. John Money - a sexologist and psychiatrist at The Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, who had learned his "trade" at one of the North American universities, no doubt including clinical experience which was based on Freud's psychoanalytic findings and theories (he published the last of his ten books in his late 70’s in 2003) - advised the parents to let the doctors completely remove David's penis and construct a vagina, and then raise him as a girl named Brenda (Money 1973, 1980). Brenda, however, failed to grow up into a woman, despite being treated with various hormones and psychotherapy. Instead, she became a lesbian and eventually had her gender changed again, becoming a man named David. David was happily married but committed suicide in the spring of 2004. This sad story would not have been so interesting if David, alias Bruce or Brenda, had not had a twin brother, Brian, through whom he, while still living as Brenda, finally found out that he had been born as a boy and that his female gender had been imposed on him owing to a twist of fate. In his mind, David never accepted the imposed female gender. This story should raise doubts with psychiatrists and clinical psychologists who cling to the theory of the bisexual origin of the human mind. John Money brought the idea into play (Money 1994, 1998, 2002), and his actions call psychoanalytic theorists to revise a number of Freud's theses and Freudian ideas. Nevertheless, let us bear in mind that numerous of Freud's theories will still hold water, although they cannot be proven like an axiom in physics. Even though the psychic gender may be genetically determined, this does not affect the consistency of our psychoanalytic interpretation of sports. It may be, however, expanded as follows: it is well possible that the unconscious (sexual) desire is not determined only by “upbringing”, ie. through primary identification, or the anatomy of genitals, but also by the genetic disposition for a mental desire that may be based on the coital impulse or instinct.

Notwithstanding, we may still legitimately state that a goal is not a goal, but rather a substitute for the female genitals. The goal was unconsciously invented or “desired into being” by the males as a result of their (hetero)sexual, coital dispositions or instinctive impulses. Ball games are older than recorded history. According to the preserved documents, it may be concluded that they were known to almost all ancient societies: Egypt, Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome, even in China and Australia. The Incas, too, were no exception. As early as 4000 years ago, the Egyptians used to play games with leather balls stuffed with straw and raveled reeds. They may have even employed inflated pig or ox bladders, as were used by the Ancient Greeks. The Chinese started to use bird feathers as late as the 3rd century. They probably played the game throwing a small ball into each other's lap or into each other's hands, or kicking it. Naturally, we do not know whether they used a goal and in what form, but we may assume the plausibility of the hypothesis. Neither can we tell whether Egyptian "handball" and "football" were played according to some rules. Psychoanalysis allows us to deduce that the rules of the game were formed in accordance with secondary elaboration, a notion known from Freud’s interpretation of dreams. Secondary elaboration (processing or reprocessing) is an unconscious cognitive mechanism that Freud introduced in his interpretation of dreams or dream analysis. It is the secondary elaboration that makes a certain game “playable”. Playable games must have been governed by a set of rules familiar to all players, which seems logical since a game with no rules would have instantly gotten into a fight among the players. The fact is that any game possesses a symbolic structure and is, basically, a serious matter. It seems illogical that the Ancient Greeks, for instance, would not have (self-)restricted their ball games with rules. Historians state that the first ball games were the boys’ domain. Their favorite was similar to today's Dodge Ball. They are assumed to have played football as well, or some kind of rugby: the players had to enter a "forbidden" area drawn on the ground, carrying, throwing or kicking the ball, while the opposite team tried to prevent this with all their might. This paradigm can be explained by means of psychoanalysis, merely by employing the concept of the Oedipus complex and some of its derivatives, e.g. the prohibition of incest. In order to understand the symbolic value of the change or transformation of the "forbidden" area into a specifically determined and restricted area, ie. the goal, it is necessary to introduce the concept of the difference in the anatomy of the genitals, which is responsible for the unconscious desire for coitus with a woman as the successor of the mother. In so doing, the latent structure of such a game appears considerably more (hetero)sexual.

Tsu Chu or cuju, an ancient Chinese game played around the 3rd century, reflected a distinct (hetero)sexual or (latent) coital paradigm. At the emperor's court, a similar latent sexual game was played, with two teams striving to get a ball through a small silk-lined hole, a “goal”. The fact that the players were forbidden to touch the ball with their hands and were only allowed to use their torsos and legs may be interpreted as an impact of "something unconscious": the prohibition of touching something, e.g. with one’s hands, always harbors some kind of symbolism. Also, psychoanalytic interpretation supports the idea that “a hole in silk” is latently or symbolically (hetero)sexual. According to Freud, silk is associated with the female, representing her. The paradigm of prohibition is based on the prohibition of incest. Clearly, we shall never be able to find out or prove if the prohibition to play with hands is a consequence of the above-mentioned secondary elaboration affecting the rules of the game to make it more playable or whether this (paradigmatic) prohibition reflected some other prohibition, e.g. that of erogenous zones or some other forbidden objects not being allowed to be touched with hands.

This paper is not aimed at discussing the fact that in Ancient China court ladies played a similar game called Eight Immortals Cross the Sea, with two teams of four players. Such a discussion would call for the introduction of the concepts of penis envy and imitation of men, which feminists find rather unpopular, to say the least.

Throughout the time, in China and elsewhere, other (“sports”) games would crop up and gain popularity. In the 7th century the game of immortals, the then form of football, was superseded by polo. As a matter of interest, this game was similar to many games developed in other cultures or countries, meaning that identical mental structures were derived from identical unconscious motives or desires. Different cultural environments have had their influences on the manifest structure of the game, whereas the latent structure remains identical everywhere and, according to psychoanalytic interpretation, it concerns sexuality. A decisive rule in this context is played by the Superego.

In so-called “primitive” cultures, where the influence of "civilization" has not reached the (moral) Superego in a sufficiently "classic" way in terms of prohibitions, the symbolic or latent structure does not hide the animalism or the “Idism” of it. For instance, a game called Buzkashi is still played in Turkmenistan today. This equestrian game of the Uzbeks, in which the riders randomly fight against each other over the carcass of a goat, is played virtually without any rules. In spite of the fact that this game is traditional and exceptionally popular among the Central-Asian steppe nations, it can be hardly classified as a sports game, although it possesses the competitiveness of the sports paradigm. As stated above, the basic paradigm of the game is similar to many games in other cultures. The Ancient Persians in what today would be Iran had a "ball" instead of a goat. Even though the Uzbeks and the Turkmen are not culturally or geographically far from Iran, it is difficult to say that the one community brought the game or custom to the other. It is true, however, that some historical records state that Alexander the Great, King of Macedon, received a polo stick or club as a gift after having conquered Persia. Just as unverifiable, through cognitive skepticism, remains the story about the founding father of the Persian Sassanid Empire, Shah Ardashir, who lived in the 3rd century and presumably played polo between two "goals", marked off by two rods at a distance of 8 meters between them. It is possible that Asian nomads, famous for their horsemanship, may have become enthusiastic about this equestrian game. From the psychoanalytic point of view, however, there is greater possibility that their paradigm feeds on identical and universal mental structures. Therefore, it is not necessarily true that it was the Asian nomads who brought polo to China thorough Mongolia and to the Byzantine Empire, where the game first appeared in the 11th century, as is legitimately concluded by historians.

Sports sociologists of today treat polo from somewhat different theoretical positions, which, however, may be supplemented with those of psychoanalysis. The moment the underprivileged started to play tennis, the elite indulging in sports “took refuge" in somewhat more expensive sports, e.g. golf and, naturally, polo. Keeping a horse or having a polo team is a hefty financial investment that makes today's polo a sport reserved for the rich, who by playing it wish to (subconsciously) rise above others or the riff-raff. To rise above others means “to win a privileged position in the desire of the object of desire”, or, in other words, “a man enjoys a privileged position in a woman's desire” if he displays an attribute of “betterness” that raises him above others. Having a horse, and, even more so, winning a polo match, is a privilege enjoyed by the elite, which, included in the package, brings the "top prize": namely, euphoria or pleasure.

Obviously, not everyone could afford a horse in the past either. The wealthiest polo players would breed superbly agile horses - "polo ponies". A game crowned with a victory and victory-related pleasure, which, according to psychoanalytic interpretation, derives from oedipal-castration events, made it easy for this strongly (hyper)invested (sports) ritual strike root in any culture. Within the paradigm of a sports or competitive game, an attempt to score a goal or actually scoring it with the ensuing pleasure is the ultimate cherry on top. To conquer an adversary on a latent unconscious (symbolic) level means to castrate a "sexual rival" and if the victory is synonymous with “scoring” a goal or an act of symbolic coitus, it is clear that the discourse of pleasure in sports has a latent libidinal, ie. sexual, etiology and a symbolic structure.

Within psychoanalytic discourse, the paradigm of the goal in (sports) games is considered a universal one, since similarly conceived games can be found all over the world. The paradigm was set up discretely, which contemporary historians are highly unlikely to agree with. The classic explanation of introducing a ritual or a sports game is based on a fixed idea that a traveler brought a game or a ritual from somewhere and that the imported game simply "struck root". We do not believe this cognitive paradigm and introduce a radically different one. Our theory, our conceptual-mental paradigm, marks an epistemological break in the entire understanding of various sports games. According to our legitimate opinion or conviction, the historians have made a mistake in deduction. Psychoanalysis offers a different interpretation, which can be legitimately believed in, although it cannot be proven, yet the same goes for theories propounded by historians. There are numerous arguments - historical arguments - that we may refer to within our cognitive framework. Namely, even when maritime voyages had not yet led to discovering unknown territories and games were not transferred from one continent to another or from one country to another, the sports and competition paradigm was identical all over the world. This should mean that there must be some sort of mental disposition for identical game paradigms to enter various cultures. This indeed is the case since the human mind follows identical algorithms in all races and cultures. The Oedipus complex and the phenomenon of castration are universal; the notion of universality further applies to the unconscious, the repression, the principle of pleasure, the symbolic structure of mentality, the Id imperative (aimed at pleasure) etc. Just as universal is the role of the Superego and the ensuing prohibition of incest.

It is now plain to see that we cannot take it for granted that contemporary football has its roots in Europe, or that football was invented by the Romans. It is very well true that the Romans may have indeed “desired into being” a game paradigmatically similar to football, viz. Harpastum. Yet the real roots lie in the mental sphere of the male mind. The male has mental dispositions for competitiveness, which is an inherent feature of (sports) games and underlying the introduction of the goal as a symbolic substitute form of the female genitals within the paradigm of (competitive) games. The radicality or uniqueness of our thesis does not deny the possibility of a birth situation that, directly or indirectly, can have generated a game similar to football which should have given rise to the development of modern football. Yet the understanding of football is substantially improved through the mental dispositions in the “inventors” or “desirers” (males) rather than by a list of names or the localization of its pioneers in a particular cultural environment or country.

The pioneers of European football were thus not the Romans but rather the heterosexual males who, owing to their unconscious desire to have coitus with a woman, constructed a game similar to modern football. It is not significant whether they lived in Ancient Rome, Greece, Egypt, China, Central America or anywhere else in the world, but there is no escaping the fact that it was every single culture or country that generated the paradigm of a (rolling) ball, which at the moment of the generation of the paradigm of the goal as a symbolic substitute form of the female genitals acquired a phallic structure (phallus = a symbolic substitute form of the male genitals or penis). As long as the ball merely rolled or was thrown or exchanged between the players, its symbolic representation may as well have been different. It may have been a symbolic representation of a beheaded adversary. It is said, for instance, that sometime in the 12th century the head of a Viking plunderer was used as a ball on an occasion in England.

The game would occasionally end in casualties. This can be observed on the basis of a football-like game described by Peter James and Nick Thorpe in their Ancient Inventions: Wonders of the Past! Referring to the Codex Magliabechiano, written sometime around the 15th century, the authors mention the Olmecs, an Indian tribe from Mesoamerica in the Gulf of Mexico (James and Thorpe 1994: 560), who inventend or “desired the game into being” around the 10th century. It is believed that it was later adopted by other regional tribes, e.g. the Aztecs, the Incas, or it may just as well have been archetypically “desired into being” by other American tribes. Basically speaking, it was an aristocratic game reserved for the higher social classes. Also, exceptionally talented players from outside the ordained aristocracy are said to have won their way into the team. The weight of the Olmec ball with a diameter of about 15 centimeters made the game a rather dangerous affair. The players had to wear helmets, the forerunners of present day American football helmets. One of the theories around the well-known stone balls weighing up to 40 tons each states that the basalt spheres represent the giant helmeted heads of the Olmec rulers. At first, the playing fields or ballcourts were entrenched areas or enclosed meadows, which later developed into real stadiums flanked with walls. One of such stadiums was discovered at an ancient Olmec place called Chichen Itza in Mexico. It measured 90 meters by 30 meters with an 8 meter-high wall surrounding it.

Psychoanalytically, what is interesting about the stadium is the specific details of the game, having a classic and universal latent libidinal structure: the side walls bore hoops made of stone or wood, reminding one strangely of Naismith's basketball, which was invented about a thousand years later and several thousand kilometers up North, in the Canadian town of Springfield. To further elucidate the universal (libidinal) paradigm of the “goal”, let us re-emphasize that the North American paradigm of the hoop, ie. the basket, was not imported from the Gulf of Mexico. Instead, James Naismith invented or “desired the game into being” because of identical libidinal structures, inherent to the mind of every male, even to that of a couple of thousand years ago. The paradigm is universal because of the universality of both the libidinal structure of the male mind and the representatives of the sex drive: coitus, vagina, penis, castration or the menacing castrator, ie. the father, and the object of desire having a vagina, ie. the mother as experienced during infancy. The fact that the ball (phallus) was passed between the players by feet, hips, elbows or torso and that the goal of the game was to throw the ball, ie. symbolically copulate, through the hoop, into the symbolic vagina, shows that the game had a universal and latent libidinal structure. In those times, the game ended with the first team to successfully "copulate with the adversary's (stolen) woman". By means of game rules secondary elaboration redefined the game by introducing a time limit and halftimes. The paradigm of the goal or the basket, representing an opening through which the ball, ie. phallus, has to be inserted, remains identical. Clearly, the secondary elaboration affected the game’s structure as early as over one thousand years ago, all with the intention to make the game more playable. Due to obvious difficulties in “scoring” (a goal,) the team that had succeeded in carrying the ball outside the playing field was awarded a bonus or, rather, some points. The game was (probably) a domain of men, who had “desired the game into being”, still this does not necessarily mean that women with a phalically structured personality and hooked on infantile or Oedipal penis envy, would not have copied the men, entering the game or even organizing their own by following the men's example. Surely, the males must have felt certain (unconscious) reluctance to include women in "their" games, for their unconscious mind was well aware of the reason why such games had been invented in the first place: because of women.

At one point, for instance, Mesoamerican players generated the paradigm of "the third person", i.e. the observer or spectator, which can be explained by means of the processes of identification. Even then enthusiastic spectators would continuously put bets on the game’s outcome. A Spanish chronicler reports that even then there were bets on the winner of the ball game, which had a special place in the paradigm of competitive or sports games. Because of the increased affect, betting substantially increases the pleasure. The spectators would pawn their belongings, such as gold, turquoises, rich garments, even slaves, fields, and houses. Agreeing at this point with the thesis that the Mesoamerican game had a religious meaning would be an insult to psychoanalysis. We may, however, very well say that the manifest interpretation of the game, which as any game had a latent content, was religious and, in this way, we shall avoid offending classical historians and anthropologists. But the latent and manifest paradigms in the structure of any game will throw some light on the libidinal side of the game. That people really tried to predict future from the flight of the ball should primarily be regarded as mana, “something to fill in the lack of sense”. Mana is typically inhabited by the desire to be able to predict the future for real, which does away with many an obscurity that may invoke either pleasure or discomfort. Elimination of the element of random chance or obscurity helps many people to feel relieved, which might have produced the pleasure that contributed to the introduction of the desire to foretell the future.

As already indicated, the Mesoamerican ball game “outscored” the English kicking of a dead Viking's head in cruelty and the amounts of spilt blood. Some of the preserved Mesoamerican etchings suggest that the defeated team did not lose just the match but their lives as well. Should the game in its manifestation really have been understood as a religious ritual, it is well possible that the defeated team was sacrificed to the gods. The manifest side of decapitation is always coupled with the latent one. Freud emphasized now and again that decapitation (always) means castration. On the latent symbolic level, the contestants in sports have always been and will be sexual competitors that males want to get rid of - at least by means of castration if not complete elimination, and this is exactly why the competitive game (with its latent symbolic structure) evolved. The introduction of the religiously interpreted manifestation or disguise makes symbolic castration in the form of elimination (decapitation) a legitimate act. The sacrifice was not demanded by any deity but by the (threatened) men, who as sexual competitors fought for the most favorable position in wooing their (libidinal) objects of desire – women as the successors of their Oedipally experienced mother. This is the universal libidinal paradigm which generated the agon paradigm of sports (or, competitive) games, which always have a symbolic libidinal structure.

This sportological theoretical discourse needs a further in-depth look into the theory of sports games. The principle of reality, viz. the sexual inaccessibility of the desired woman, and the Superego make the sexual (coital) pleasure with a woman impossible. As a way out of the frustrating situation, the Ego, under an unbearable pressure of the Id to gain sexual pleasure, makes up, or rather, “desires up” a substitute (subliminal, symbolic) satisfaction in the form of a sports game in which the sexual rival, ie. a male as a sports competitor, is symbolically castrated, and the woman “in possession" of the rival is symbolically coited with. In this particular type of theorizing a (hetero)sexualized sports game, the Superego no longer plays an important role as it has become redundant. The secondary elaboration does not intervene with the game in any other way than it would if the influence of the Superego was present. Once codified, symbolization is introduced by universal - Freud would call them "typical” - sports substitute forms or symbols of the basic representatives of the sex drive, and the Superego fails to comprehend, to “see” the sexuality of the (latent) structure of a sports game. The Superego is totally confused and duped by the codified symbolic structure. The Id may now freely indulge in pleasure. The Superego, satisfied, observes the goings-on in silence, without comprehending the (libidinally latently structured) symbolic coituses, which, as a matter of fact, are under the Superego’s censorship. In other words, the subject (individual) is “interpellated" or hailed into the game outside the Superego's register of sexuality.

Any discussion of football cannot disregard the fact that the development of the game was greatly improved by the regularity of the ball bounces and the clearly defined rules, be it in football, handball, basketball or even volleyball (with no goal in sight, the latent structure of volleyball is conceptually slightly different and more complex in terms of interpretation). The secondary elaboration, subsequently, made Naismith's basketball playable and helped define the rules in football. The number of players settled at eleven, the size of the goal was defined, and the size of the pitch was set at 90 to 120 meters in length and at 45 to 90 meters in width. The 16-meter penalty area and the goalkeeper's space were defined. A centre circle was drawn to literally start the ball rolling. The match was divided into two halftimes, each lasting 45 minutes. The penalty kicks and the direct or the indirect free kicks were introduced. Fouls, misconducts, offside positions, substitutions, overtime in case of a tie (in elimination matches), penalties (red or yellow card or suspensions) were introduced. Also, referees and their assistants were introduced, who soon gained the tag of the symbolic representation of the Father figure. Likewise, the coach, who entered the sports paradigm or the paradigm of training later on, at a “secondary” stage, soon acquired the role of the symbolic representation of the Father.

In the web of all the "secondary" circumstances, the game became truly playable, logical and reasonable. The changes were introduced gradually and in different places, first of all in England. The written rules are seconded by the unwritten ones, applying mostly to fair play. 1843 (according to some sources: 1846) saw the printed codification of fairly uniform rules at Cambridge University, which favorably affected the organization of football. The University football code served as a basis to the newly founded English Football Association and was thereby clearly distinguished from the game called rugby, which was well spread around the town of Rugby in the middle of the 19th century. The new code of football was, however, first observed only twenty years later during a match between London and Sheffield. The match was a surprise to many sports (football) fans and was considered a watershed in the (established) way of thinking. Until that time, nobody had thought of organizing football clashes between two teams from fairly distant places. After a couple of years, fifteen (eleven according to some sources) English football teams collected the money to finance the first Cup as the prize and then competed to determine the winner. The popularity of the game was increased through the chain of these events as well as by the libidinal latent structure of the game linked to pleasure and the identification of the spectators. The 1901 Cup Final was watched by more than 100,000 people.

Even before Pierre de Coubertin’s revival of the Olympic Games towards the end of the 19th century, football had been spreading all over Europe at an extraordinary pace, especially with the help from English workers, since there was long-distance transportation, and migrations between continents had become a fairly everyday occurrence. Great Britain had a considerable number of colonies all around the world.

Football was spread to the East by merchants. A textile trader is said to have presented it to the Russians. Turkey saw the first officially recorded match between the teams of English workers or officials at the British Embassy in Istanbul and Greek students who had seen the game played in England. The English were keen travelers, and once traveling by train was made possible and relatively comfortable, tourism took off and had its fair share of influence in the spread of the game. Football was brought to South America or Brazil, today a football super power, by sailors as early as 1870, yet its zealous spread did not happen before several decades later.

Canada, Australia and New Zealand started with their own, rather loose rules, making their ball game look like a hybrid between rugby and football. However, the paradigms of the goal and that of two opposing teams (involved in a conflict) were nevertheless observed - agon in classical Greek means conflict (opposition), rather than a competition in the modern sense of the word.

During the period of the boom of "English football" the USA had cultivated its own sports. Particularly popular even then was American football, a variant of rugby. The first official intercollegiate match was played in New Brunswick, New Jersey, on November 6th, 1869. As was the case with football, rugby caught on for the same reason, because the male unconscious has (universal) libidinal dispositions which process the American touchdown as libidinal investments charged with affect, or, rather, "energized”. That something in humans that experiences pleasure is the Id, the only one to be capable of "reading" and understanding the language of symbols (the Ego and the Superego cannot compare with the Id in this meta-space). Something in the game becomes “pleasurable” only when the Id is taken by symbolic representation. That “something” that acquires the status of a symbol in a game means that its manifest content is not what is perceived or comprehended by our consciousness or the Ego. It is in fact an entirely “different” matter, which is libidinal, latently concealed, encoded. A sports game needs to be translated or decoded to make sure that its latent message is understood. What is essential is the symbolic, unconscious, latent, and not the manifest content. Once again: the structure and logic of a sports game is as good as identical with that of dreams. Sports may truly be interpreted on the basis of practically identical concepts as used in dream interpretation by Freud. That latent basis of a competitive or sports game presents fulfillment of an unconscious and sexually structured desire, which Freud, making a connection with children’s games, applied to his interpretation of some segments of art, more specifically to literature.

During his entire life, Freud endeavored to write a scientific theoretical work for his successors to lean on when trying to understand and explain the human mental pathos and society in general. We, however, focused here on sports and presented a meta-psychological approach that might be helpful in understanding sports, if, of course, the readers manage to rid themselves of the dislikes provoked by such pan(hetero)sexual theories. We shall ignore here the thought that Freud might have resented the above presented idea of the original heterosexuality of the human mind; hopefully, genetics will succeed before much longer in finding a clear answer as to the genetic determination of the heterosexuality of the human mental gender, which, affected by (a specific type of) "upbringing" or primary identification and in spite of the "normal" genes, can still be subject to further reinterpretation or even revision.
(Tim Vodeb - joy, scoring a goal)


Arens, William (1975). The Great American Football Ritual. Natural History, 84: 72-80.
Brill, Abraham A. (1929). The Way of the Fun, North American Review, 228: 429-434.
Dundes, Alan (1979). Into the Endzone for a Touchdown: A Psychoanalytic Consideration of American Football. Western Folklore 37: 75-83.
Dundes, Alan (1997). From Game to War. Kentucky: The University Press of Kentucky.
Feyerabend, Paul (2000). Proti metodi (Against method). Ljubljana: Studia humanitatis.
Freud, Sigmund (1979). Totem i tabu (Totem and Taboo). Beograd: Matica Srbska.
Freud, Sigmund (2000). Interpretacija sanj (The Interpretation of Dreams). Ljubljana: ŠKUC, Studia humanitatis.
Herald, Childe (alias Thomas Hornsby Ferril) (1965). Freud and football. New York: Reader in Comperativ Religion, 250-252.
James, Peter, Nick Thorpe (1994). Wonders of the Past! Ancient Inventions. New York: Ballantine Books.
Johnson, W. Branch (1929). Football, a Survival of Magic? The contemporary review, 135.
Kopkay, David, Perry D, Young (1977). The David Kopkay Story. New York: 53-54.
Money, John (1980) Love and Love Sickness: The Science of Sex, Gender Difference and Pair-bonding. Baltimore, London: John Hopkins University Press, 148-150.
Money, John (1998). A Stranger in My Own Body: Atypical Gender Identity Development and Mental Health. London: Karnac Books.
Money, John (2002). A First Person History of Pediatric Psychoendocrinology (Perspectives in Sexuality: Behavior, Research, and Therapy). Plenum US.
Money, John (1990). Gay, Straight, and In-Between: The Sexology of Exotic Orientation. Oxford University Press.
Money, John and Anke A. Ehrhardt (1973). Man and Woman, Boy and Girl: The Differentiation and Dimorphism of Gender Identity from Conception to Maturity. John Hopkins University Press, 148-150.
Money, John and James J. Krivacska (1994). The Handbook of Forensic Sexology: Money, John (1986). Biomedical & Criminological Perspectives (New Concepts in Human Sexuality) Lovemaps: Clinical Concepts of Sexual/Erotic Health and Pathology, Paraphilia, and Gender Transposition of Childhood, Adolescence, and Maturity. Prometheus Books
Montague, Susan P. and Robert Morais (1976). Football Games and Rock Concerts: The Ritual Enactment of American Success Models. S. Montague & W. Arens, The American Dimension.  St. Louis: Alfred Publishing.
Osredkar Radko (2002). Olimpija (Olimp). Življenje in tehnika 3: 12-20.
Osredkar, Radko (2002). Žoga in pravila (Ball and rules). Življenje in tehnika 7-8: 12-19.
Patrick, George T. W. (1903). The psihology of football. American Jurnal of psychology, 14.
Rodgers, Bruce (1972). The Queen's Vernacular: A Gay Lexicon. San Francisco.
Rote, Kyle and Jack Winter (1966). The Language of Pro Football. New York.
Stokes, Adrian (1956). Psycho-Analytic Reflection on the Development of Ball Games, Particularly Cricket. International Jurnal of Psycho-Analysis, 37: 185-192.
Suarez-Orozco, Marcelo M. (1993). A Psychoanalytic Study of Argentine Soccer. Psychoanalytic
Vodeb, Roman (2001). Šport skozi psihoanalizo (Sport through Psychoanalysis).  Trbovlje: Fit.
Vodeb, Roman (2005). Interpretacija šport (The Interpretation of Sport). Trbovlje: Fit.

Internet resources:


Roman Vodeb has two sons: Tim (1990) & Nik (1994), both are football/soccer-players.