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Kristeva, J. (2004). Some Observations on Female Sexuality. Ann. Psychoanal., 32:59-68.

(2004). Annual of Psychoanalysis, 32:59-68

Some Observations on Female Sexuality

Julia Kristeva

The Primary Oedipal Phase: Seduction and Invasion

Female psychosexual development involves two versions of the Oedipus complex, as several authors, including Freud, have stated, and I would now like to put forward a revised interpretation.

The earliest period, from birth to what we call the phallic phase starting at between three and six years of age, I shall term the primary oedipal phase. It is true that, in his concluding works on female sexuality, Freud (1923) emphasizes what is generally termed phallic monism: the main characteristic of this infantile genital organisation consists of the fact that, for both sexes, only one genital, namely the male one, comes into account. What is present, therefore, is not a primacy of the genitals but a primacy of the phallus (p. 142). In other words, psychically speaking there is an inherent masculinity in the child irrespective of its anatomical sex—“the little girl is a little man.” This axiom, which was initially considered to refer to infantile sexuality (and not adult) or to a fantasy, finally emerges here from Freud's pen as a sine qua non fact of all sexuality.

However, in his last writings, Freud (1931) reveals a particular clinging and intense relationship between the little girl and her mother that is not easily accessible to analysis because it is encysted in preverbal sensory experience, which the founder of psychoanalysis likens to “Minoan-Mycenean civilization behind the civilization of Greece” (p. 226). It forms the basis of psychic bisexuality, which “comes to the fore much more clearly in women than in men”(p. 228).

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