Peeping into the lives of others is a human need

Peeping into the lives of others is a human need
Curiosity is a good and natural trait. All people are subject to the same pattern and all people are a bit of a voyeur (although sometimes they are not aware of this fact). However, it is necessary to find a limit and distinguish between, for example, a photographer who follows and photographs famous people, a detective who follows an unknown person, an elderly lady who constantly looks out the window, neighbors who always ask unpleasant questions, and the like. The desire to spy is born with existence – says Dr. Gerard Bonet (French psychiatrist and psychoanalyst and author of the book “Violence in Observation”). A newly born child will immediately open his eyes and start getting to know the interesting world around him. A newborn child does it for pleasure and not because it is necessary to do so at that moment.
Healthy curiosity means being interested in events and people around you. This is how we learn about a different way of life and meet people with whom we can share “both good and bad” over time. This kind of curiosity is discreet. This kind of curiosity turns into a flaw if the goal of observation is to gather information to “blackmail” other people. Such observation is indiscreet and means interfering with intimacy.
The media generally encourages an indiscreet way of observation because it makes people observers of what they should not otherwise see. That’s why we all sometimes enjoy listening to (or watching) forbidden things. For example, most buyers of “yellow press” must read the date of birth, astrological sign, marital status of a public figure. People who constantly follow all shows and TV channels cannot separate themselves from some spectacular media events.
Voyeurism actually belongs to the spirit of our time. However, this kind of curiosity is not yet sick and is subject to self-control.
The problem is not that observation is a pleasure – says Dr. Bonet – a healthy personality has a certain distance from the object of observation and controls its own deep impulses. A fragile personality, however, is subject to internal psychic forces. Such a personality “sticks” to the object of observation without the possibility of establishing control over one’s own being and observing from a distance. This forced way of viewing (primarily a sexual object) is characterized by a voyeuristic way of viewing. Dr Bonet claims that the voyeuristic way of observation is “an extreme act of expressed sadism”. Stalking neighbors day and night means quenching the problematic thirst for violence against other people’s lives. For a voyeur, “seeing” does not mean enjoying the scene, but also putting the other person under control and destroying it in an indirect way. That is why the observed person feels uncomfortable under the watchful eye of such an observer.
His interest in the hidden stems from his childhood (from the period of discovering the forbidden). Intimacy thieves use various tricks to steal a tempting detail and piece of someone else’s life. They have their own points of view (peeping through holes in doors, peeping through keyholes, peepholes, through openings in women’s changing rooms and toilets, etc.). Their watchful eyes follow the behavior of the neighbors (or the chosen person) and every move of the chosen victim. There are different ways of observation (through dark glasses, using binoculars, observation from an ambush, through a camera and the like). Each voyeur has his own quirks, the place and time of observation, the type of person (mostly women) he observes. A voyeur has a fear of contact with other people. For a voyeur, the most important thing is to see but not be seen. Not only the way of viewing is important, but also the unconscious “editing” that accompanies such viewing. This montage is based on primitive scenes. A voyeur behaves similar to a 4-year-old child who wants to know everything.
All people go through this developmental stage at the age of 3 or 4 and eventually people forget it. The voyeur, however, did not overcome his own old imaginings of other people’s intimacy, Dr. Bonet explains. These thoughts govern the behavior of the voyeur. The voyeur keeps coming back to these thoughts again and again because he is powerless to overcome this weakness. Moreover, the voyeur unconsciously searches for thoughts in everyday life. Thus, he imagines everything in the picture from the observed details. A person with this kind of mental disorder cannot overcome himself or behave differently.
Dr. Bonet explains the specificity of voyeur behavior with several examples. Two lovers are hugging while sitting on a bench. Passers-by watch the couple in love. All kinds of views are possible because each person is different and has his own nature. People who are satisfied with their own lives give their lovers an understanding look. Disapproving looks express anger and jealousy. The voyeuristic view says nothing. The voyeur fills his eyes with this beautiful sight. He is focused on small details that only he wants to see and which are his food.
The second example is even more illustrative. A woman takes off her wardrobe in the dark. A light bulb is burning in her apartment while the blinds are up. A man watches her from the apartment across the street. A person who observes this woman can have a pleasant erotic experience and soon forget that impression. But a person has a mental disorder if every day at the same time they hide from the window of their own home – lurking and watching and the woman across the street.
The child should learn to use curiosity wisely throughout life. There is a shame which allows that people can live together without suffocating each other. A child who does not want others to see him without clothes- should always be protected from the eyes of others. The child’s desire to hide his private parts should be respected. Keeping the necessary distance also stops the child’s excessive curiosity about the intimacy of others and restrains desire (a type of joy) that could hurt the child.

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