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Devereux, G. (1958). The Significance of the External Female Genitalia and of Female Orgasm for the Male. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 6:278-286.

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(1958). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 6:278-286

The Significance of the External Female Genitalia and of Female Orgasm for the Male

George Devereux, Ph.D.

One of the chief tasks of so-called applied psychoanalysis is to clarify important clinical problems by means of data pertaining to cultural practices in various primitive groups. These data can be treated as equivalents of unconscious material elicited in the course of psychoanalytic therapy, since it has been repeatedly shown that material which is repressed in one culture, such as ours, may be out in the open and culturally implemented in another culture, which need not necessarily be a primitive one.

It is crucial for the understanding of male homosexuality that the sight of the penis-less female genitalia arouses in some men so intense a castration anxiety that coitus with the woman becomes impossible. It is also known that many a man becomes quite anxious if his female partner fails to achieve a climax. We postulate that these two types of anxiety are closely interrelated.

It is proposed, on the basis of Micronesian data, to demonstrate that, in some areas, the anxiety-arousing quality of the penis-less external female genitals is minimized by artificially enlarging them, and that these artificially enlarged genitalia are then manipulated as though they were a penis, in order to elicit in the woman a "masculine" type of orgasm, characterized by urination before and during the climax, which appears to symbolize for the unconscious a kind of female "ejaculation." In brief, it is proposed to discuss the "reassuring" quality of certain anatomical features of the female genitalia, and of an unusual form of orgasm in the female, for the male partner.

It is well known that the problem of vaginal orgasm is still a moot point for some. Thus, Kinsey (16) suggested that vaginal orgasm may be a fiction, since the internal tracts of the female genitalia allegedly contain no organ capable of providing an orgasm. On


Submitted August 23, 1957

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