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Sabbadini, A. (1986). Possession Anxiety: The other Side of the Castration Complex. Brit. J. Psychother., 3(1):5-13.

(1986). British Journal of Psychotherapy, 3(1):5-13


Possession Anxiety: The other Side of the Castration Complex

Andrea Sabbadini

'Castration anxiety - which is related to the expectation of the loss of a precious object - is only one aspect of the castration complex. Attention is here drawn to its other side, so far neglected in psychoanalytic theory, which I propose to term ‘possession anxiety’. Possession anxiety relates to the presence of an ambivalently charged object, which can take its power from the person possessing it. The person will then fear losing control over the object. Possession anxiety is a normal phenomenon, though it is most evident in sexual perversions and anorexia nervosa. It is symbolically represented by the phallus and is associated to the genital stage of psychosexual development.

I briefly examine this concept from the viewpoint of its temporal connotations and in its psychotherapeutic significance for the understanding of the transference. I use as illustration fragments from child observation and from my clinical work with analytic patients.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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