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Steyn, L. (2009). Is feminine masochism a concept worth reviving?. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 90(4):867-882.

(2009). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 90(4):867-882

Is feminine masochism a concept worth reviving?

Lesley Steyn

In this paper the author explores situations when a patient seems to regress masochistically from a progressive development. She is concerned with moments when the patient's struggle towards oedipal relating may be easily confused with a situation where the patient is only caught up with pre-oedipal conflicts and as a result the analyst might interpret in a way that pushes the patient backwards. The author revisits and focuses upon Freud's classical concept of ‘feminine masochism’ as a particularly illuminating example of an element in the clinical picture which may alert us to this situation. She aims to show that, viewed as part of a developmental model, the concept of feminine masochism can offer the analyst a signal that the patient is fleeing from sexual oedipal conflicts. Reviving the concept may therefore be clinically useful in highlighting the regression from oedipal anxiety in situations where this might otherwise be missed.

Final version accepted 2 March 2009

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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