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Slap, J.W. (1982). An Unusual Infantile Theory of the Origin of the Female Sex. Psychoanal Q., 51:428-429.

(1982). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 51:428-429

An Unusual Infantile Theory of the Origin of the Female Sex

Joseph W. Slap, M.D.

Abraham (1923) reported a patient's dream which revealed her theory of how she came to be born a female: in the dream the patient was lying on the ground under water when a man in a boat plunged a pole into her three times, boring holes in the region of her mouth, her breast, and her abdomen. Abraham understood the latent content of this dream as a fantasy in which the father's penis damaged the patient in utero thus determining her gender.

Such fantasies are not uncommon in my experience. Recently, however, I came across an unusual variation on this fantasy. A patient, who suffered from feelings of castration and who evidenced a wish to bite off her father's penis, with talionic fantasies of having her teeth fall out, had been struggling to recall details of a primal scene experience which occurred when she was a little past her fourth birthday. Her mother at that time was in the ninth month of pregnancy with the patient's sister, Karen, her only sibling. Dreams, associations, and transference phenomena—along with her dim memory of the event—suggested that her mother refused to have intercourse with the father out of a fear of harming the baby and that the patient's parents had performed "sixty-nine" instead.

During this period of analysis I hung a new graphic in the office, a Motherwell aquatint which consisted of an amorphous black shape superimposed on a background of red. The patient took an instant dislike to this print and described it as a "hairy monster." During a session a few weeks after it was hung, she said that she had been obsessed with it during the night; it had seemed to pursue her.

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