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Arlow, J.A. (1952). International Journal of Psychoanalysis. XXXI, 1950: The Psychobiological Origins of Circumcision. C. D. Daly. Pp. 217–236.. Psychoanal Q., 21:437.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: International Journal of Psychoanalysis. XXXI, 1950: The Psychobiological Origins of Circumcision. C. D. Daly. Pp. 217–236.

(1952). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 21:437

International Journal of Psychoanalysis. XXXI, 1950: The Psychobiological Origins of Circumcision. C. D. Daly. Pp. 217–236.

Jacob A. Arlow

Daly speculates as follows concerning the origin of circumcision: during the prehistory of man, actual castration was practiced in order to repress the positive incestuous drives. This resulted in a pathological inhibition of heterosexual reproductive impulses and a pathological inversion, i.e., an exaggeration of constitutional homosexual elements. It was at this juncture that circumcision arose in order to promote heterosexual development and, apparently, the survival of the race. Circumcision tended to counteract the pathological tendency to inversion in males by removing the female element (prepuce equals vagina). Clitoridectomy accomplished the corresponding object in the female. 'Though the original traumatic repression of incest was responsible for the psychopathological increase of homosexuality in both sexes (i.e., the inverted tendencies), the means by which a psychobiological adaptation was effected, viz. circumcision, actually deprived men and women of that portion of their sexual organs through which nature intended them to receive gratification of the normal homosexual component of the physiological bisexuality. Thus circumcision, it is suggested, leaves them with the unconscious wish to regain their original bisexual unity.'

Daly sees in the development of the individual a recapitulation of the events which presumably took place on a universal scale in the prehistory of mankind. He maintains that there is a primary repression of the positive Oedipus complex followed by a repression of the secondary negative Oedipus complex which, although constitutionally influenced, is nevertheless, in its genital form, a psychopathological reaction phenomenon. In these considerations the castration anxiety, aroused by the so-called 'menstruation complex' and the olfactory responses to the female genitalia, is of prime importance. He sees in the recent studies of Nunberg concerning circumcision a validation of his own anthropological and psychodynamic speculations.

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Article Citation

Arlow, J.A. (1952). International Journal of Psychoanalysis. XXXI, 1950. Psychoanal. Q., 21:437

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