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Ross, N. (1970). The Primacy of Genitality in the Light of Ego Psychology—Introductory Remarks. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 18:267-284.

(1970). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 18:267-284

The Primacy of Genitality in the Light of Ego Psychology—Introductory Remarks

Nathaniel Ross, M.D.

THE CONCEPT OF GENITAL PRIMACY appears to be one of the most solid bastions in the structure of psychoanalytic theory. Following the pioneer work of Abraham (1921), (1924) in building upon the theory of genital primacy established by Freud in the Three Essays(1905), little appears in the literature which represents an attempt to reinvestigate, reappraise or revise it, let alone challenge it. It seems so entirely reasonable that, once having established the dignity and value of sexuality for man's adaptation to his inner as well as to his outer world, the optimal kind of genital experience should inevitably be linked to the optimal kind of human relationship. For this is what the theory of genital primacy enunciates—that the firm establishment of genital primacy is linked to the abiding capacity for postambivalent (Abraham's term) relationships between the sexes. Thus, not without his customary polemicism, Wilhelm Reich (1942) proclaimed that all neurotic individuals were quite incapable of satisfactory experiences in the sexual act. With equal emphasis, and more explicitness, he spelled out the phenomenology of experiences leading to orgasm in the act of coitus—by no means a negligible contribution at the time—asserting that the curve of excitation from the very beginning of lovemaking to the ultimate subsidence was exactly the same for both men and women.


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