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Bressler, B. (1960). Blind Girl Equals Phallus. Psychoanal Q., 29:507-514.

(1960). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 29:507-514

Blind Girl Equals Phallus

Bernard Bressler, M.D.


A patient, having received the 'wound of childhood' through the eyes, behaved as do primitive people who ward off evil spirits by returning the curse 'in the eye of my enemy'. In other

words, having incorporated the wound visually, he tried to heal it by seeing and by blinding the persecutor with his sight, a desire fulfilled in the image of a little blind girl.

For this patient vision was cathected to an unusual degree on all levels, oral, anal, and phallic. The eye received and devoured the phallus as would the vagina, which was not yet distinguished in feeling from the mouth. The eye also became the piercing, wounding, phallic instrument with which to penetrate the castrating and castrated vaginal lips. His fantasy, while it lasted, constantly caused the patient to castrate himself and just as constantly to reassure himself against his deep feminine identification, in part by magical exhibitionistic intercourse with women: 'They had to look at my penis, to see it or else it was no fun'. His fantasy of being a woman with a penis was clear in his adolescent transvestite acting out.

In the magical visual exchange he not only gave his penis to women, but they, in turn, became his penis with which he was reunited. His intense castration anxiety was increased by constant peeping at his sister's genitals at a time when his penis was especially value by him. Subsequently, he did not develop the typical phallic, boyish pride in his own genitals; rather his bisexual identification was maintained by scoptophilic-exhibitionistic components. Coupled with this was inability to identify himself with his father in the process of growing up. He took into himself the mother's complaints against the father, and made them his own in his choice of career. Deeply buried, as in Fenichel's patient, were oral sadistic fantasies of incorporating his father's penis secretly, this time through the eyes, thereby fulfilling his intense Oedipal wishes.

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