The Strange World of Emotion

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Transvestism (or transvestitism) and Trans-sexuality

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Issues of Gender Identity

Puberty assaulted me when I was about 14 years old, not long after the death of my younger brother. Under the combined onslaught of these two tragedies I began manifesting a curious phenomenon. I started to dress in my mother’s clothes!  After a few weeks this desire faded away. It re-appeared briefly during a period of near-madness in my 30s [¹], and then became a dominant theme of my self-analysis in my 40s.

The name for it is cross-dressing or transvestism (which I denote by the term ‘ TV ’ ). A similar phenomenon is trans-sexualism (or ‘ TS ’ ), which is also familiar to me. As an activity I label them TV/TS for short.

This article is based on my sexual tastes during the period of my self-analysis, roughly between the years 43 - 50.  [ My self-analysis was a psycho-analysis that I did on my own, with no therapist involved ]. The last section on sex and sexual identity is an update for my views in 2008.

Sub - Headings
Emotional Dynamics
Models of Projection and Introjection
Modes A and B
Modes C and D
Mis-understanding of Therapy
Sex and Sexual Identity
Classifying Sexual Activity
TV and TS relation

TV/TS is a far more fascinating aspect of sexuality than heterosexuality. Homosexuality is too dreary for me. Sometimes I preferred to be a woman rather than a man. Other times I thought of myself as having a woman’s soul in a man’s body. These orientations gradually faded, but they made life much more interesting and exciting than dull sexual standardisation.

A simple enough framework in which to understand sexuality is to view it as being nothing more than the combination of physical male and female bodies with traits of masculinity and femininity. But it is inadequate to understand the issues of  TV and TS.

TS means the desire of a person who is physically male to become physically female, or at least to completely identify with womanhood. TV/TS revolves around the concept of gender identity. So gender identity is how a person thinks of himself / herself, irrespective of what physical body he /she has. Hence ideas on sexuality have to be broadened so that they can include issues of gender identity, without bracketing it as a deviation.

Standard sexuality is split into being man and woman. This means that such sexuality takes the person out of himself /herself in order to seek completion in a partner. The single individual is not in total control of himself /herself. This fact is very inconvenient for the world-denying ascetic ego (as I was for most of my adult life), and to a lesser extent to the narcissistic ego. For such mentalities sexual dependency has to be circumvented.

I consider TV/TS from the perspective of the man.
I see TV as the absorption of feminine sexuality into myself in order to free me from external sexual desire. I keep sexuality circulating within myself instead of directing it to a partner. During periods when TV did not interest me I returned to a focus on heterosexuality. TV is a very convenient way for celibate ascetics to handle sexuality.

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Emotional Dynamics

Any emotion is always a feeling (either positive or negative) that energises a mental concept associated with it. The mental concept is normally unconscious, so I call it an unconscious idea. I use the term "emotional dynamics" to mean the principal unconscious ideas and their associated emotions that drive any particular state of consciousness. [²]

During the middle period of my self-analysis I spent three months going through continuous and intense abreactions of guilt and pride, all centred on understanding how sexuality manifests itself within the subconscious mind. As fast as one abreaction finished so another one started. Hence I was able to analyse in depth the issue of sexuality, viewing it from perspectives of catharsis, guilt, resentment, sorrow, and bitterness. This period of sexual self-absorption gave me the insights to understand TV/TS. [³]

Two central themes appeared. When catharsis temporarily abolished fear, I was immersed in phantasies of sexual freedom – I was a beautiful woman who had no inhibitions about sex. When this theme ended, another replaced it. Now I hated to be a man ; male sexuality was abhorrent to me. It was even abhorrent for me to dream of myself as a man. When catharsis ended, the thought of returning to cold masculinity filled me with despair. [4]

The first theme centred on TV, the second on TS.   TV/TS revolves around narcissism (see my dream of narcissism below). Jealousy is rejected.

The emotional dynamics of these two states are:

TV = narcissism + fear of sexuality.
TS = narcissism + hatred of sexuality.

My body is biologically male.
Therefore, for a man, TV/TS becomes :

TV = narcissism + fear of my own masculinity.
TS = narcissism + hatred of my own masculinity.

Since I am heterosexual, the type of sexuality that I feared and hated was male sexuality. Excitement dispels fear but not hate. So cross-dressing arouses excitement in the transvestite but not necessarily in the trans-sexual person. Excitement dissipates the fear of sexuality but not the hatred of it.

When TV/TS interested me I used to prefer to dream of myself as a woman, but when TV/TS ceased to be interesting I returned to dreaming of myself as a man. This dream preference has an interesting historical pedigree. The psychologist Carl Jung postulated that each person has an anima, of opposite sex to that person, which can appear to him /her in his /her dreams. I consider that Jung had an unresolved TV/TS problem. More interestingly, the popularity of his view indicates that TV/TS attitudes are not far below consciousness in many people who think that they are normal in regard to sexual orientation.

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Models of Projection and Introjection

Now normal social relationships operate through the loop of projection and introjection. The man projects some aspects of himself onto a woman, and then introjects the montage of woman plus aspects back into himself. This loop enables the person to meld together both internal and external psychological factors within his consciousness. [4b]

What is the mechanism of TV ?  How is the loop of projection and introjection operating when TV entrances me ?  What is the external factor that is being used ?

The loop operates to validate my own femininity, my own feminine sexuality. My ideals of feminine beauty mostly reflect my mother’s character and image as she looked during my youth. This is the result of imprinting. [5]. So I use her image as the external factor in the loop.  I project my image and my feminine sexuality onto mother’s beauty.  I then introject from this montage, which has now become my ideal of sexuality. Introjection functions when I begin cross-dressing – by wearing women’s clothes I re-absorb my own projections. Therefore a self-enclosed loop is operating. Sexuality circles within myself. The ultimate form of safe sex !

This mode of operation of the loop is one way of handling sexuality ; there is another, more common way. In effect, the sexual loop of projection and introjection can operate in two different modes, depending on whether narcissism or jealousy is currently dominant. The key to understanding this is that pride and narcissism work in tandem in individual identity, and jealousy and guilt work together in social identity. [6]

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The two modes are :

Mode A

This mode operates when narcissism and TV are dominant : it governs my acceptance of my own femininity.

1). First I project my image onto mother, to create a subconscious montage – this action arises from pride.

2). Then I introject that montage in order to get pleasure from my own feminine sexuality – this action arises from narcissism.

Mode B

This mode operates when jealousy and identification are dominant : it governs my acceptance of the femininity of women. [7]

3). First I introject mother’s image and blend it with my ideals of feminine beauty, to create a subconscious montage – this action arises from jealousy.

4). Then I project that montage onto women of comparable age, in order to get pleasure from the feminine sexuality of others – this action arises from guilt.

In mode A the montage is centred on my image, whereas in mode B the montage centres on mother’s image.

This sexual model of the loop can be generalised to fit everyday social interaction, to include both sexual and non-sexual behaviour. In the sexual model, imprinting is a principal factor, whereas in the non-sexual model it may be absent. In non-sexual interaction the image may be more in terms of the manner of handling emotional issues, and in character traits, bearing and poise rather than in visual signs.

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The two generalised modes are :

Mode C
(generalised model of mode A)

When individual identity is dominant in me then I admire idealists (since I am one myself) and desire compatible friends, people who can handle emotion in the manner that I do :

5). First I project my image onto an acceptable person – this action arises from pride.

6). Then I introject the montage – this action arises from narcissism.

Mode D
(generalised model of mode B)

When social identity is dominant in me then I desire role models or partners, people with bearing and poise that I would like to emulate :

7). First I introject the image of a person who is a role model – this action arises from jealousy.

8). Then I project the montage onto other people that I admire or would like to have as a partner – this action arises from guilt.

What I suggest by these patterns of projection and introjection is that any person usually never sees other people as they really are, but just uses them as pegs on which to hang his own particular psychological needs.

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Why did I develop an orientation to TV/TS ?   To understand my answer it is necessary to realise that sexual orientations (or sexual identities) are the result of high levels of sexual stress. The orientation that is subconsciously chosen is one that reduces the stress to manageable proportions. [8]

When I was 8 years old, BBC television showed a murder mystery dramatised in 6 weekly episodes. It was called  The Little Red Monkey, and it gave rise to a popular dance called "the monkey". In the final episode, a man was seen getting ready to murder a woman. Since this was early 1953, violence on television was only suggested, never portrayed. So all the audience saw was the man putting on a pair of gloves prior to the murder (or attempted murder, I forget which). Nevertheless, I freaked ; the programme created an instantaneous trauma in me.

I evolved a new habit: fear of the dark. From now on I always kept looking over my shoulder when walking alone in the darkness of night. I was afraid that an orang-utan would swing down from the trees and attack me. (It was never monkeys, gorillas or chimpanzees that scared me, but only orang-utans). This habit eventually faded by my mid-teens, though even up to my early 40s I occasionally had flashbacks when walking down dark alleys.

But the episode also created a more basic effect, which did not come into prominence till my psycho-analysis. Then whenever I dreamt of being feminine the dream always ended in violence, as I had to defend myself against aggressive men. These dreams portrayed my fear and hatred of male sexuality.

Only in my late 50s did I realise that my fear of male sexuality originated in the little red monkey drama. This fear remained dormant till puberty, when it produced its first efflorescence in the short period of my adolescent cross-dressing. Hence the roots of my TV/TS orientation lay in a traumatic incident, created by media suggestiveness, in my childhood.

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Mis-understanding of Therapy

Psychotherapy, and psycho-analysis in particular, creates the possibility of transposing a person’s relationships from phantasy to a genuine reality. But first the therapist needs to understand both himself and the therapy that he practises. A friend of mine, who is also TV/TS, told me of his unfortunate experiences in psychotherapy (in this case, a form of behaviour therapy). He had been compelled to follow a course of treatment aimed at eliminating his TV/TS tendencies by making them repulsive to him. The treatment failed. All such punitive therapies will always fail, since their advocates misunderstand what therapy can do.

Any kind of therapy can only work if there is co-operation between client and therapist, in an atmosphere of mutual trust. A punitive therapy cannot establish trust and so cannot achieve permanent results. All that can be expected is that the induction of fear will produce transient effects.

TV/TS, heterosexuality, and homosexuality are forms of sexual choice. The psychological basis of human development has evolved human sexuality from being ‘natural’ to being psychological in its essence. Even sexuality has become part of the pattern of choices that a person can make in his life. What passes as sexual ‘normality’ is, for me, only sexual conventionality and conformity. From this point of view, what effect does psychological therapy have on sexual orientation?

Psycho-analysis is the deep end of therapy, and its effects on primary orientations and motivations will be greater than the effects produced by other therapies. A psycho-analysis eliminates anxiety, thereby eliminating compulsive behaviour. After a successful psycho-analysis, a person’s desires cease to be compulsive and become optional.

My desires in the mode of TV/TS sexuality no longer dominate me, yet I do not repudiate them. Therapy can take the compulsion out of any form of sexual activity: a heterosexual person may decide to cease heterosexual practise, and a homosexual person may decide to cease homosexual practise. Yet after a psycho-analysis, a heterosexual person will still be heterosexual ; a homosexual person will still be homosexual ; a TV/TS person will still be TV/TS.

It is compulsive desire that is eliminated, not sexual choice.

There is no way that any therapy can change non-heterosexuals into heterosexuals if such a change is against their will. Neither can any other sexual orientation be changed against a person's will.

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For a man, TV and TS reflect fear and hatred of masculinity. Now any personality trait has its opposite, or its binary form. By taking the binary emotions to fear and hatred, what personality traits can appear in a man’s consciousness ?   What are the binary forms of TV and TS ? [9]

During a period when I was exploring TV to find its emotional dynamics, the first clue that I had for understanding it was through a dream. In the dream I saw a face which was highlighted in a very beautiful way. The face was mine !   This was a dream portrayal of narcissism. The dream was telling me that narcissism is a factor of TV. Years later I was considering the issue of voyeurism. Again I had a dream portrayal of narcissism, using the same motif of my face. The dream reminded me of TV/TS. Contemporary with the second dream I was considering my own love of femininity. I tied these two factors together. Their association gave me the dynamics of voyeurism.

The emotional dynamics of voyeurism in a man are :
Voyeurism = narcissism + love of femininity.

Therefore, voyeurism is binary to TS. (since love is binary to hate)

The binary emotion to fear is anger. For a man, the binary to TV has dynamics of narcissism plus anger at femininity. What trait is this ?   This attempts to denigrate or ridicule a woman’s femininity. Therefore it features offensive and aggressive manners like poking a woman’s bum or groping breasts when in crowds. This trait can be labelled ‘offensive groping’.

Its emotional dynamics are:
Offensive groping = narcissism + anger at femininity.

Personality traits often come in clusters of unconscious ideas that are related or associated in some way. Within each cluster the intensity of an unconscious idea will vary, depending on its relative importance to the person. The association between them means that the person’s reaction to a familiar situation can easily vary from one unconscious idea to a related one. Therefore, to any familiar situation the person can express a range of reactions.

In general, any particular trait will carry along with it other influences, some of which are good and some of which are bad. Hence clusters of unconscious ideas often associate goodness with badness. This is a standard feature of the mind, and has nothing to do with morality, since morality resides in the person, not in ideas.

If a person accepts any influences of TV/TS in his life, then the associated influences of voyeurism and groping can be relegated to insignificance and ignored. Whereas, if TV/TS influences are repressed, then voyeurism and groping may become important influences on consciousness.

The hardest thing in life for an idealist is facing up to the unpleasant aspects
of oneself that awareness brings.

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Sex and Sexual Identity

The previous sections were written in the mid-1990s. This section is an update for 2008.

Sex and sexual identity (or gender) form two different issues. Sex (or sexual activity) is a biological issue (with the different forms of oral, anal and genital being psychological preferences). In contrast, gender is an existential issue : it is an aspect of the need to feel an harmonious sense of being. Psychology and existentialism intertwine in issues of gender. Seeking happiness and pleasure is always of a psychological nature, whilst a person’s classification of himself/herself as either a traditional person or as a new-age gender person is always an existential issue.

Traditional sexual relationships have been stereotyped into an excessively-masculine man bonding with an excessively-feminine woman – this stereotype is a product of social conditioning in a male-orientated society. Until recently, there were very few opportunities for women to attain significant success in male-dominated social structures. The main reason for this is that the male has always been afraid of his sexual nature and tended to be emotionally-frigid, and so man-woman relationships were ossified into patterns of male dominance that hid the man’s inability to be intimate.

What we are witnessing nowadays in an ever-expanding circle is the exploration and expression of sexual identity. Sexual identity is the issue of the balance between the feminine and the masculine in the person. A significant number of westerners are changing, so that the male is becoming more feminine and the woman is becoming more masculine. What catches the headlines are the forms of male change, so we are seeing a lot of gay, bisexual, transvestite, transsexual, and other forms appearing. The social requirement to be excessively masculine is as much a burden for some men as the requirement for some women to be excessively feminine.

The issue of sexual identity is completely different from the need for physical sex, but until recently there was no real way of expressing the difference. Each person has a need for sex (a psychological need), and also a need for the right balance between the feminine and the masculine (an existential need).

TV/TS is much more different from mainstream sexuality than being gay is. A heterosexual man is primarily masculine, and so is a gay person. Even an effeminate gay is still masculine, not feminine, but less so than his partner. Whereas a TV/TS, or transgender "man", is desiring to be feminine. Hence being a tv poses much more of an enigma to traditional males than does a gay person. Another way to look at this issue is that there is more in common between a straight male and a gay male than there is between a tv and either a straight male or a gay one.

The exploration of sexual identity is becoming more common. Why is this ?  In heterosexual partnerships, there are three main long-term issues for the masculine man :

The last issue is met by the wife being the embodiment of the man’s feminine desires. In today’s high-stress world, a partnership will slowly change, even if it began as a complementary union. This implies that over time, the wife will gradually change her femininity, and thus no longer completely fulfil the man’s feminine desires. Therefore, when the man becomes stressed enough, he will become attracted to cross dressing as a means to satisfy those aspects of femininity that are lacking in his relationships.

Another way to look at the last issue is that when a wife embodies the man’s feminine desires, she is fulfilling a psychological need in the man. This can only happen when the man’s existential need for being feminine is of low intensity. However, over time, as the man gets more and more stressed by the modern world, his existential need for being feminine will increase in intensity until it becomes powerful enough to influence him to begin cross dressing. This effect is likely to be much more noticeable in middle classes than in traditional working classes or religious classes. If a person’s psychological need to conform to his social or religious class is very great, then it will override his existential sense of being.

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Classifying Sexual Activity

There are several ways of classifying sexual activity (oral, anal and genital), from point of view of a man.

a). The traditional man
For this person, masculinity is dominant, and his femininity is mainly denied.

b). The transgender man
For this person, femininity is dominant, and his masculinity is de-emphasised.

Therefore, there are at least six different psychological patterns of sexual activity that a man can engage in.

Just putting on a dress does not turn a man into a TV.  Heterosexuals can wear dresses, and so can gay males. However, a TV is not a gay wearing a dress, nor a heterosexual wearing a dress.

At present (in 2008) there are no standard terms for tv relationships. Perhaps we can put ‘trans’ in front of familiar terms. For example, we can label the following relations in this way :

How I use my terms

Originally, in the mid-1990s when I first wrote up my ideas on sexual psychology, I used a simple scenario of TV and TS, and assuming that a crossdresser was the same as a transvestite. Now I modify my terms to reflect the influence of some present-day social views.

The usage seems to be that anyone who puts on a dress can say he’s cross dressing. CD is mainly used for those who dress for pleasure, whilst still remaining basically masculine. He may use crossdressing as the focus of domination and submission phantasies, especially if he lacks skills in intimacy. Such a person is exploring psychological ways to pleasure and happiness.

A TV like me is someone who has an existential need to dress, and the fun he gets out of it is an extra. For a TV, the issue is about allowing his feminine side to come out, and so his masculine side is de-emphasised. So whether a guy is CD or TV depends on how he rates the feminine influence in him and whether or not he still basically regards himself as being masculine in the traditional sense. If the TV goes full time with his dressing, and still keeps his bits and pieces, then he gets called a TG (transgender). However, this usage is not yet standardised (writing in 2008).

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The Relation between a TV and a TS

A TV is stressed out that there is no socially-acceptable way for him to express his femininity. The traditional socially-acceptable expression of femininity is that the man channels it into various forms of artistic representation, that is, a focus on creativity has long been the basic form of expressing the feminine side of oneself. However, this creativity is directed at the external world and leaves the issue of personal femininity hidden (this usage of creativity can be viewed as an example of a psychological process called "displacement"). When the creativity is directed at himself, then the man has no option but to explore his feminine side, and sooner or later he develops into a TV.

When he becomes stressed enough, he begins wearing dresses and skirts. This means that when masculinity has become a burden to him (he has learned to fear masculinity), his femininity can begin to emerge, since he no longer denies it. He has started crossdressing.

If, however, he becomes even more stressed out (he has learned to hate his masculinity), then wearing a skirt no longer suffices to satisfy him. Now he begins to personalise his femininity into the image of his ideal woman self – he creates an image of himself as a woman and idolises it as the real "me". Now he begins to think of himself as a woman trapped inside a male body. All his feelings will be strongly influenced by his previous incarnation on Earth, whether it was as a man or as a woman.

A simplified way of looking at these relations is that a TV is a stressed-out crossdresser, and a TS is a stressed-out TV.

Although the stresses acting on a TV or a TS may ameliorate enough with time, so that he can enjoy life better, his beliefs that were created and shaped during the periods of excessive stress remain fixed. His way of life continues in the direction that it was shaped during his crises, because this has become the means for him to attain the most satisfaction in life. His femininity has found its most satisfying expression, which is the exploration and creation of personal sexual identity. This is his way to personal happiness and an harmonious sense of being.

A Note on Ethical Considerations

I assume that each person is following his/her own course of evolution and personal development over a multitude of lifetimes on Earth. Each person has a standard of personal morality particular to him/her. Within that standard, what we find is that masculinity is a moral influence and femininity is an amoral influence. Possibly this is because masculinity is the hard side of a person's character, whilst femininity is the soft side. Hence the internal dialogue in the person between his/her masculinity and femininity is also a dialogue between the moral and the amoral in that person.

I am using the idea of amorality from the person’s point of view, and not from the point of view of any social consensus. It is the person’s own feelings of amorality that I am considering.

For an harmonious life, the amoral needs to have boundaries put on it by the moral. I assume therefore that this is the spiritual reason that societies are patriarchal rather than matriarchal.


The number in brackets at the end of each reference takes you back to the paragraph that featured it.  For the addresses of my websites, see the Links page.

[¹]. The episode of near-madness was the malevolent form of Kundalini. This is described in the article Jealousy and Kundalini Psychosis, on my website Patterns of Confusion[1]

[²]. Unconscious ideas are introduced in the first article on Emotion. See home page. [2]

[³]. My definitions, descriptions, and analysis of emotions are given in the three articles on Emotion. And my analysis of the process of abreaction is given in the five articles on Abreaction. See home page. [3]

[4]. Catharsis is part of the abreaction of guilt. See the third article on abreaction : Catharsis and Suggestion. [4]

[4b]. The loop of projection and introjection is explained in the article Projection and Introjection. [4b]

[5]. Imprinting is explained in the article on Transference. [5]

[6]. Each person has two identities, his sense of being an individual and his sense of being a social person. See the article Confusion. [6]

[7]. Identification is described in the article Aspects of Personal Identity. [7]

[8]. See article on Nihilism, sub-heading Variations. [8]

[9]. The binary nature of emotions is explained in the first article on Emotion. See home page. [9]

Home List of  Articles Links Top of Page

The articles in this section are :

Two Modes of Sexuality - sexuality is dual in form.

Bonding - continues the bonding patterns.

Oedipus and Electra - symbolism in sexual practices.

TV / TS - transvestism & trans-sexuality, plus voyeurism and groping.

Sadism and Masochism - sexual violence and degrading phantasies.

Structure of Sexual Response - four relationship responses.

Partnerships - the way that change affects partners.

The copyright is mine, and the articles are free to use. They can be reproduced anywhere, so long as the source is acknowledged.

Copyright © 2002 Ian Heath
All Rights Reserved

Ian Heath
London, UK

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