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Fritsch, E. Ellman, P. Basseches, H. Elmendorf, S. Goodman, N. Helm, F. Rockwell, S. (2001). The Riddle of Femininity: The Interplay of Primary Femininity and the Castration Complex in Analytic Listening. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 82(6):1171-1182.

(2001). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 82(6):1171-1182

The Riddle of Femininity: The Interplay of Primary Femininity and the Castration Complex in Analytic Listening

Elizabeth Fritsch, Ph.D., Paula Ellman, Harriet Basseches, Susan Elmendorf, Nancy Goodman, Fonya Helm and Shelley Rockwell

This study elucidates the application of an analytic attitude to questions of gender and sexuality. The paper reports on a study group's exploration of the relative heuristic use of two important organising concepts in analytic work with female analysands: primary femininity and the phallic castration complex. A tendency to cling to one position over the other skews analytic listening. Two cases are presented of women struggling to consolidate positive feminine identifications and, to that end, working through conflicting feminine identifications and defences against a resolution of the awareness of gender differences. Analytic listening requires a view of each psychic construction as a layer to be understood in its own right yet as a cloak soon to reveal the next layer—a different construction. The study includes observations on perverse fantasies in women.

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