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Riggall, R.M. (1924). Sexuality: S. S. Brierley. A Note on Sex Differences from the Psycho-Analytic Point of View. British Journal of Medical Psychology, 1923, Vol. III, p. 288.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 5:368-370.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: Sexuality: S. S. Brierley. A Note on Sex Differences from the Psycho-Analytic Point of View. British Journal of Medical Psychology, 1923, Vol. III, p. 288.

(1924). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 5:368-370

Sexuality: S. S. Brierley. A Note on Sex Differences from the Psycho-Analytic Point of View. British Journal of Medical Psychology, 1923, Vol. III, p. 288.

Robert M. Riggall

For purposes of discussion, sex differences are divided into three groups: a. primary anatomical differences, b. secondary sex characters, and c. psychological differences. It is noted that the last two groups are determined by the action of endocrine secretions. It is suggested that some psychological differences must be due to tertiary rather than secondary sex characters, resulting from self-consciousness of sex. Psycho-analysis and other methods have been unable to decide how far observable differences are innate and how far acquired; we know, however, that the

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question of sex differences is essentially genetic. In the analysis of the nature of the sex impulse it is noted that female modesty, in so far as it is a relative sex inertia, is a secondary sex characteristic. This inertia is liable to exaggeration, and the female may be unaware of sexual desire. More normal modesty is an expression of self-consciousness of sex acting through the 'castration-complex'. The shame of having no penis is a powerful element in female modesty, and is an egoistic trend. Referring to infantile sexuality, it is noted that the one important difference is with regard to urination, which plays an important part in infantile phantasies of love and power. The first hint of difference between activity and passivity appears to be partly determined by a period of activity in the interstitial glands of the reproductive organs between the ages of two and seven. Although many women remain in the clitoral attitude of the girl child and are anæsthetic to vaginal stimulation there is undoubtedly an organic predisposition to characteristic femininity.

It is suggested that the differentiation may be chiefly on the female side, as if the female had to turn aside at various points from the straight line of development followed by the male. No serious observer really believes that the female ego is essentially different from the male. It is believed that the ego trends in both sexes are positive, active and katabolic, harmonizing with the sex impulse in the male, but conflicting with it in the female. In the one case the ego characteristics are reinforced while in the other they are strongly modified and limited. The qualities of femininity are absorbed by the ego-ideal, and this reconciliation is more complicated for the female. In both sexes the first power experiences, which are connected with defæcation, are equated to the penis. The female ego has to become reconciled to the loss of the penis and to the limitation of the direct expression of power. This transformation of the ego functions is brought about by the unconscious identification of penis = fæces = child. The predisposing conditions to the development of the feminine castration-complex are discussed under four groups: (1) circumstantial; (2) early awareness of sex differences; (3) individual differences of secondary sex characteristics; (4) initial differences in anal and urethral erotism.

The only psychological mechanism peculiar to the female appears to be that women show a greater tendency to reaction-formation. The differences in the external relationship of boy and girl are discussed at some length from their normal and abnormal relationship to their parents and the Oedipus situation.

It is tentatively suggested that there is a sex difference regarding the genesis of the castration-complex, viz., that in women it arises from anal and urethral levels and is only secondarily connected with incest trends; in the male it is more intimately connected with incest tendencies and genital auto-erotism. In conclusion it is held that emotional and

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temperamental sex differences are of considerable educational and social importance.

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Article Citation

Riggall, R.M. (1924). Sexuality. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 5:368-370

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