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Brunswick, R.M. (1929). A Note on the Childish Theory of Coitus a Tergo. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 10:93-95.

(1929). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 10:93-95

A Note on the Childish Theory of Coitus a Tergo

Ruth Mack Brunswick

It has been generally observed that when, in the course of an analysis, the primal scene is recalled, the coitus supposedly seen by the child has been a tergo. Indeed, we find this idea so constantly that Freud has been inclined to believe that the entire observation of parental coitus has frequently merely been phantasied by the child. Certainly the practice of coitus a tergo is less common than the idea of it in our patients' minds. Its consistent appearance in the analytic material of childhood serves to falsify the remaining material, in the sense of making it seem phantasy rather than fact.

The following question presents itself: When a patient, remembering reconstructing the primal scene, describes the parents in a coitus a tergo, are we dealing with phantasy or actual observation, or with a combination of the two, a falsification of actually-observed facts by superimposed phantasy? Therapeutically the matter is of slight importance; we know that in their results little difference is to be noted between fact and phantasy. Nevertheless the primal scene and its consequences form a cornerstone of the psychic structure of childhood and should as such be known to us in every detail.

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