Women’s psychological vulnerability in a date-rape situation is well-described by Susan Kavaler-Adler, Ph.D. in our book A Womb of Her Own (Routledge, 2017.)
Dr. Kavaler-Adler writes as follows: In the four decades of psychoanalytic practice, I have frequently worked with women who are trapped by an internal world situation in which they are defined and controlled by a primal father inside of them, interacting with the dynamics of an inadequate, relatively absent, or abandoning mother figure. This situation always influences the way these women interact with, submit to, or fight with men in their current adult lives. In this chapter, we will look into the case of Sherry, a woman who suffered the ultimate seduction and control of a malignant man, a seductive male stranger, who defined her as part of his own psychic ritual in the prologue to raping her. The woman’s susceptibility will be discussed in terms of early life trauma, as well as the character disorder pathology of both her parents. It should be kept in mind that her susceptibility is also symptomatic of a wider cultural dynamic of men defining women as a means to controlling them, which has mushroomed into the political polarization and polemics of the “pro-choice” female reproductive freedom issue. This chapter engages not only the issues of male dominance, but it will offer the psychoanalytic perspective on what allows a woman to develop a psychological capacity for choice. In discussing psychological development, we will zero in onto psychological reparation of “developmental arrest” trauma, as only this reparation could allow a woman to choose. Only when a woman is psychologically evolved as a separated and individuated autonomous person, can she fully embrace the “pro-choice” stance and be responsible for her body and for her own reproductive rights.

The Demon-lover Complex
When we look at how women may become aroused by and attached to malignant men, the interplay between the pre-oedipal and oedipal becomes profoundly important. The contributions of
Melanie Klein and Ronald Fairbairn to the psychoanalytic literature illustrate how a powerful attachment to a bad object can take place. Melanie Klein’s theory helps us to understand the woman’s fantasy of the man as an idealized figure, which can flip to the side of the man as a demon, a “bad object” figure. This view is presented by Melanie Klein in her writings on the “paranoid-schizoid position,” as opposed to the integrated view of the man that would be possible in the “depressive position” (Klein, 1935). In the meantime, Ronald Fairbairn spoke of the attachment to the “bad object” (Fairbairn, 1952) as related to a primal attachment to an inadequate and/or abusive mother. In Fairbairn’s theory the internal “bad object” is not just a fantasy that is only partially related to the actual parent, but is based on an internalization of an actual bad mother parent; or one perceived in a distorted way due to the limitations of infant and childhood perception, but still related to the actual parent. Both the bad mother as an internal fantasy object and as a real internalized part object, can become compounded by the internalization of a bad father parent object. Such internalization of a father can be merged with the internal mother or it can be differentiated from the internal mother to varying degrees. Building on Klein’s and Fairbairn’s ideas, I speak of my theory of the “demon-lover” attachment, within one’s internal psychic world, and of its manifestation in the external world as a “demon-lover complex” (see Kavaler-Adler, 1993a, 1996, 1998, 2003a, 2003b, 2005b, 2013a, 2013b, & 2014, and others).
This theory of the demon-lover complex is particularly pertinent to a woman like Sherry, the heroine of this chapter. Sherry was unconsciously drawn to narcissistic and psychopathic men like her father, after just having repaired a fragile self-structure from her primal inadequate mothering. In the case to be discussed, we will see how the choice of a man, in the real life drama to be described, is compelled by unconscious demon-lover attachment, even though the woman’s behavior could look, to the world at large, as a free choice, or even as a consensual sexual act. After all, Sherry becomes the victim of rape, after consenting to go to a man’s apartment!
We must also note that the Jungians speak of a demon-lover archetype that addresses the development of a demon-lover complex, from the view of a component in the “collective unconscious” (Jung, 1981), as opposed to seeing the overt contribution of the actual mother, father, siblings as the primal components of the internal eroticized bad object, which is the object relations point of view. But, the psychic magnet of Jungian demon-lover archetype is quite consonant with my object relations approach. An addiction to an internalized bad object, at a primal level, in the actual parental and family set up, can certainly interact in the unconscious psyche with a demon-lover archetype, which may or may not originate in a separate unconscious area of the collective unconscious. My first book on women writers, The Compulsion to Create: A Psychoanalytic Study of Women Artists (Kavaler-Adler, 1993a) explicitly relates the object relations components of the “demon-lover complex” to the Jungian theory of the demon-lover archetype form of complex.
Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, was the first who acknowledged the role of the mother-infant dyad in pre-oedipal development. Some of his significant American and British followers in infant and child research are Beatrice Beebe and Frank Lachmann; Margaret Mahler, Fred Pine, and Anni Bergmann; Donald Stern and Donald Winnicott. Freud (1931) first expressed his awareness about the crucial role of pre-oedipal development in his paper on “Female Sexuality.” Despite his other failings in attempt to understand women (as he had admitted in his famous quote: “The great question that has never been answered, and which I have not yet been able to answer, despite my thirty years of research into the feminine soul, is ‘What does a woman want?’”), Freud unearthed the Rosetta stone of pre-oedipal derivations of the oedipal dynamics in women. In this paper, Freud had suggested that mother-deprivation (as well as the insatiable primal desire for suckling at the breast, and the primal hunger for maternal nurturance in general) affects the core psychodynamics related to women’s desires for the father, as well as for father figures. Freud further indicated that severe problems at the early oral mothering stage could result in an overly adhesive tie to the father, which would be consistent with vulnerability to indiscriminate attachment to father figures. By extension then, a sadistic father could be a source of a woman’s intense erotic desires for sadistic men, especially when seduction arouses both oedipal and pre-oedipal cravings.
Such thinking is in line with my writings on the demon-lover complex, and with its clinical manifestation, as will be seen in the case of Sherry that follows.