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Sachs, H. (1920). The Wish to be a Man. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 1:262-267.

(1920). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 1:262-267

The Wish to be a Man

Hanns Sachs

The patient whose case I am presenting was a very intelligent young girl aged about twenty, belonging to a refined and religious family. She came for Analysis not on account of any strongly-marked neurotic symptoms, but because she was burdened by uncertainty and anxiety, and was unable to concentrate her thoughts or form plans for the future, although her difficulties were not sufficiently great completely to prevent her carrying out her duties. It was only later on, after the analysis had progressed considerably, that she recalled a marked neurotic symptom which had appeared after puberty (at about the age of fourteen), and had become repressed again, namely, the obsessional idea, (which had caused her much suffering), that when she walked out of doors all the passers-by could see her genital organs. At the very beginning, when I asked her to tell freely all her thoughts, she declared, after some hesitation and with all the signs of an inward struggle, that she felt unable to comply with the fundamental principle of Psycho-Analysis (i.e. to utter everything which came into her mind) until she had made a full confession of something that had oppressed her ever since her youth. When she was aged twelve and a half she had spent some months in the house of an aunt, and a boy cousin, about a year older than herself, had been her playmate. In those games which had a sexual background, the kind common among children of this age, these two had gone rather far in overt action. Beginning with merely viewing and touching each other's genitals, they had arrived finally very near to the act of sexual intercourse. I was obliged to piece together all this from the hints she dropped, for though my patient was too intelligent to be a prude in the ordinary sense, nevertheless she could not bring herself to relate these incidents clearly and coherently.

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