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Berke, J.H. (1989). Penis Greed. Brit. J. Psychother., 5(3):423-430.

(1989). British Journal of Psychotherapy, 5(3):423-430


Penis Greed

Joseph H. Berke

Penis Greed is an insatiable desire for the male member and all the perks and privileges that seem to accompany it. Typically men feel: ‘… the bigger your cock, the more of a man you are’, while women declaim: ‘When one has it, one has everything, one feels protected, nothing can touch you’ (Penny 1981).

Such preoccupations extend from the anatomical organ to far-reaching concerns about strength, power, authority, virility, ambition, energy and enterprise, which account for Carl Jung's trenchant remark, ‘the penis is only a phallic symbol(Rycroft 1972).

The longing for male qualities, functions and status, ‘the phallus’, features in many cultures, but in this century Freud drew special attention to phallic wishes during the course of describing the development of female sexuality. He called the sudden shocking awareness of absent maleness and the wish to overcome it, ‘penis envy’. Related to the castration complex or the masculine complex, this term (and attendant assumptions) has achieved a prominent place in the psychological literature and popular parlance. But I believe it is a misnomer and, as generally used, perpetuates several misconceptions.

The classical concept of ‘penis envy’ has little to do with envy. On the contrary it conveys intense admiration, emulation and identification for all things masculine. It is a wish, first for a penis, then for a penis in intercourse, and finally for a penis substitute, such as, a baby.

[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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