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W., H. (1947). On the View that Repressed Fear of Severance of the Genitalia is Solely Caused by External Reality and is not Inherited: E. Pickworth Farrow. Int. J. Psa., XXVI, 1945, pp. 161–168.. Psychoanal Q., 16:580-581.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: On the View that Repressed Fear of Severance of the Genitalia is Solely Caused by External Reality and is not Inherited: E. Pickworth Farrow. Int. J. Psa., XXVI, 1945, pp. 161–168.

(1947). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 16:580-581

On the View that Repressed Fear of Severance of the Genitalia is Solely Caused by External Reality and is not Inherited: E. Pickworth Farrow. Int. J. Psa., XXVI, 1945, pp. 161–168.

H. W.

'The writer's self-analysis which has now been continued for approximately three thousand hours, spread over a period of twenty-three years (Farrow, 1925 and 1942), indicates very strongly indeed that the fundamental natural reaction of the small boy, in early childhood, towards the genitalia is one of great pride in the possession of them. He thinks (apparently instinctively) that they are a very important part of his body and that it is quite impossible that they should be cut off.

'This feeling was so very strong in the writer's case that he feels quite sure that the genital severance complex in the male is always acquired by threats from external reality.'

With this as his thesis, Farrow goes on to say that such external threats must in fact be extremely severe before they can take effect. (He substitutes the term 'genital severance' for 'castration' because it corresponds more closely with the actual threat and its real meaning is better understood.) Fears of genital severance based solely on weaning traumata are, Farrow believes, extremely rare and are only 'genital severance fantasies' which are not nearly as intense nor as harmful to the personality as are the actual genital severance fears.

The author then quotes a letter written to him by Freud in which Freud expresses the opinion that 'castration fear is inherited as well as individually acquired' and that 'the intensity and pathogenic importance of the fear is based on the phylogenetic origin'. The remainder of Farrow's paper is devoted to a disproval of these views (and others in the letter of like nature) along with similar concepts expressed by Fenichel. He sums up by saying, '… it is utterly erroneous that genital severance fear is inherited in any way. What is inherited is quite the opposite—namely, a tendency towards a primitive feeling

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of omnipotence tending to cause a natural pride in the genitalia', i.e., one that admits of no possibility or reason for loss.

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Article Citation

W., H. (1947). On the View that Repressed Fear of Severance of the Genitalia is Solely Caused by External Reality and is not Inherited. Psychoanal. Q., 16:580-581

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