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Sarlin, C.N. (1970). The Current Status of the Concept of Genital Primacy. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 18:285-299.

(1970). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 18:285-299

The Current Status of the Concept of Genital Primacy

Charles N. Sarlin, M.D.


The concept of genital primacy, the end stage of psychosexual development, is based upon the capacity of the ego (and superego)

for the sublimation and control of both libidinal and aggressive instinctual drives.

The level of psychosexual development of the mother in every culture determines the characterological patterns of both men and women of the next generation.

There are two fundamental psychological crises in the development of all human beings, primitive or civilized. The first is the establishment of an individual identity based upon psychological separation and manifested by autonomy and independence, and leading to a realistic sense of identity, of both self and of object. It is only after separation conflicts are relatively well resolved that the next major crisis can become of paramount importance, the establishment of a sexual identity, of the characterology of masculinity or femininity consistent with anatomical reality.

There is a profound difference in the influence upon psychosexual development between archaic identifications, which arise out of a primitive defensive denial of aggression, and those which arise out of genuine libidinal drives.

The hostile aggressive aspect of narcissistic indifference to the object has been insufficiently emphasized.

Finally, the function of the evolution of permanent, nonprocreative sexuality of the human female in the neutralization of innate aggressive drives toward the achievement of genital primacy has been considered.

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