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Blau, A. (1943). A Philological Note on a Defect in Sex Organ Nomenclature. Psychoanal Q., 12:481-485.

(1943). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 12:481-485

A Philological Note on a Defect in Sex Organ Nomenclature

Abram Blau

Philology, the science which studies the structure and development of languages, has very often been invoked to assist in settling historical questions. The history of a nation's culture can be illustrated through a study of successive strata of loanwords. This is an application of philology in a positive sense. The absence of a word, similarly, may be indicative of a widespread process of repression. The purpose of this paper is to draw attention to a philological observation of significance in the psychoanalytic theory of sexuality.

The clitoris, well supplied with nerves, is the chief sexual organ in the female child and the main focus of infantile and adolescent masturbation. Only later is sexual sensation experienced in adjacent genital parts and it is questionable whether the young child even knows about the existence of the vagina. Thus, an awareness of the clitoris as an organ must intrude upon the consciousness of the female child and adult. This must arise from the reflex erections, the spontaneous discharges of sexual excitement, pulsations and twitching, the responses to sexual fantasies and the reactions to local manipulations (either voluntary or by local irritation of clothes and other agents). Furthermore, psychoanalytic observations offer abundant empirical evidence that the clitoris receives a great deal of attention from the female child and adult; it occupies a prominent position in the conscious sexual fantasies and is often represented symbolically in dreams.


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