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Sandler, J. (1959). The Body as Phallus: A Patient's Fear of Erection. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 40:191-198.

(1959). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 40:191-198

The Body as Phallus: A Patient's Fear of Erection

Joseph Sandler

This is an account of one aspect of the analysis of a 26-year-old patient who showed in his symptoms, in his character, in his analytic material, and in the transference, a well-defined conflict centred on his masculinity. The first part of the paper deals with a description of certain features of the analysis, with particular reference to the analysis of defences and the repetition of important object-relationships in the transference. In the second part a theoretical reconstruction of a pathological aspect of the resolution of his Oedipus complex is presented, with reference to the patient's symptoms and character. The material used in this paper is taken from the first four hundred analytic sessions, and is dealt with here mainly in relation to the patient's oedipal conflicts during the phallic phase. Later work with this patient has shown that much of the course of development of his Oedipus complex could be traced to pregenital conflicts, particularly those relating to oral devouring phantasies; but in the main this essay refers to the position as seen at the end of the equivalent of two years' analysis.


The patient, Mr. X., was referred to me by a colleague with the words 'He is very big, but you need not worry, he is not very strong'. When Mr. X. came for his initial consultation, I grasped the meaning of these words more fully, for he was very tall and correspondingly broad-shouldered. He was slightly withdrawn, slow-moving, with a serious expression, occasionally broken by a pleasant, rather philosophical smile.

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