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Daly, C.D. (1935). The Menstruation Complex in Literature. Psychoanal Q., 4:307-340.

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(1935). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 4:307-340

The Menstruation Complex in Literature

C. D. Daly

Some of the material used in this paper has already been subjected to interpretation (though not with the particular orientation for which it is being employed here) in a psychoanalytical study of the life of the French poet, Baudelaire, by Dr. René Laforgue, in which work the author discusses the influence of the mother complex with sympathy and penetration, though he furnishes a rationalized explanation for the incest barrier rather than traces its cause to a universal factor such as the menstruation complex, a concept which has become so clear to me personally that I cannot imagine a psychoanalyst working without it. The unresolved menstruation complex in the analyst constitutes a barrier to the establishment of the mother transference which of necessity must put a limit to the extent of any analysis. Nevertheless Laforgue has produced a wealth of material much of which, as I shall hope to show in this paper, continually goes back to the vaginal bleeding of the mother as the nucleus of the incest barrier.

A great deal has been written in regard to the son's sense of guilt in relation to the parricidal and incestuous wishes prompted by his positive Oedipus complex, whilst comparatively little has been written concerning the matricidal tendencies and guilt towards the mother, or of the fear of retaliation by


This study in applied psychoanalysis complements my paper on The Nucleus of the Oedipus Complex (to be published in German) and provides additional evidence in support of that theory from extra-psychoanalytical sources. It is to be followed by another paper, The Mother Complex in Mythology and Art.

1 The Defeat of Baudelaire. London: Hogarth Press, 1932. (Int. Ps-A. Library, No. 21.)

2 This does not mean that I am opposed to Laforgue's theory of the "Onlooker"; rather would I confirm it by pointing out its phylogenetic prehuman parallel in the days when the younger members of the horde were compelled to look on at the primal scene from a distance, in impotent fear and dread of being eaten by the primal male.

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