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Laufer, M.E. (1982). Female Masturbation in Adolescence and the Development of the Relationship to the Body. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 63:295-302.

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(1982). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 63:295-302

Female Masturbation in Adolescence and the Development of the Relationship to the Body

M. Eglé Laufer

It has always been noted by analytic writers from Freud onwards that the attitude women have to masturbation differs from that of men. Freud remarks, for instance, that whereas a man would probably not hesitate to use masturbation when no other means of sexual gratification are available to him, a woman would be less likely to do so. The difference is even more marked if we look at the period of adolescent development, since we know that masturbation plays an essential and positive part in the move towards normal adulthood for adolescent boys, while it does not seem to have the same essential role in the adolescent girl's sexual development. When discussing these observations, Freud traced the reasons for the absence of masturbation in the sexual activity of the little girl to the original experience of her disappointment in the size of her genitals when she begins to compare them with those of the boy. This explanation has been, and still is, the cause of much disagreement amongst analysts and others.

But, by keeping the discussion focused on whether or not the girl's sexual development is primarily determined by her penis envy and its consequences, an important issue has been left unresolved. What is the role played by masturbation in the normal development of the little girl and in the life of the adolescent girl and adult woman? Is it, in fact, normal for the girl to give it up or, as some analysts seem to imply, is its lack in an adolescent girl or a woman indicative

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