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Tip: To sort articles by year…

PEP-Web Tip of the Day

After you perform a search, you can sort the articles by Year. This will rearrange the results of your search chronologically, displaying the earliest published articles first. This feature is useful to trace the development of a specific psychoanalytic concept through time.

For the complete list of tips, see PEP-Web Tips on the PEP-Web support page.

Elise, D. (2008). Sex and Shame: The Inhibition of Female Desires. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 56(1):73-98.

(2008). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 56(1):73-98

Sex and Shame: The Inhibition of Female Desires

Dianne Elise

A developmental narrative is presented that centers on bodily based narcissistic injury and sense of shame in response to unrequited oedipal longings. Through an experience of oedipal defeat in relation to both mother and father, a female sense of inadequacy and shame may be internalized and accepted as one's identity, in contrast to the male phallic-omnipotent trajectory. The demise of genital narcissism in females can underlie various expressions of pervasive inhibition and failure to actualize desire. The thesis offered goes beyond separation-individuation theory in suggesting that girls may inhibit sexuality and aggression, and themselves more generally, due to a representation of self as “not having what it takes” genitally, and then bodily and psychically. Mental representations of the self, based on positive imagery of the female body, are needed to give voice to a woman's bodily experience and sexual desire and agency in various realms. Two clinical vignettes illustrate female inhibitions in sexuality and in professional ambition as understood within the framework presented.

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