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Stärcke, A. (1921). The Castration Complex. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 2:179-201.

(1921). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 2:179-201

The Castration Complex

August Stärcke


In psycho-analytical literature the term "castration complex" implies a network of unconscious thoughts and strivings, in the centre of which is the idea of having been deprived, or the expectation of becoming deprived, of the external (male) genitals. This complex is a general one, probably universal, but the intensity of its effects varies.

Van Ophuijsen would reserve the term castration complex for those cases in which the feeling that the genitals are damaged or imperfectly developed is associated with the feeling that this signifies a punishment for a sexual offence; and he comprises the whole group of ideas under the term "masculinity-complex" of women, of which the castration complex might be one manifestation.

In the following remarks I do not adopt this definition; my reason for this will be clear at the conclusion. I also consider as effects of the castration complex those cases in which the feeling of guilt is not perceived as such, but is projected on to the surroundings and contributes towards the intensification of the feeling of hate against them, and is expressed by a marked feeling of having been unjustly treated, together with that of embitterment. I adopt this view because it is necessary for my purpose to lay stress more on the agreements than on the differences between these groups of ideas.

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