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Tyson, P. (1991). Some Nuclear Conflicts of Infantile Neurosis in Female Development. Psychoanal. Inq., 11(4):582-601.

(1991). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 11(4):582-601

Some Nuclear Conflicts of Infantile Neurosis in Female Development

Phyllis Tyson, Ph.D.

Freud, in addition to his famous question, also remarked that “Throughout history people have knocked their heads against the riddle of the nature of femininity” (1933p. 113). Might this still be the case today? Although we have learned much in the last 60 years, we still have no generally accepted formulation of female psychology. We have instead a wide variety of conflicting theories.

Freud's emphasis on sexuality has had an enduring influence; indeed, writers as diverse as Bonaparte (1953), Chasseguet-Smirgel (1970), and Lacan (1982) consider various issues touching on female psychology, but they all write under the title of “sexuality.” The emphasis on sexuality is apparent in the great concentration of attention over the years directed toward confirming or refuting Freud's (1937) idea that penis envy is bedrock and that women invariably suffer a sense of castration. Sexuality is also apparent in accounts of female development that put heavy emphasis on the organizing effects of genital awareness. Roiphe and Galenson (1981), for example, stress the psychological consequences of awareness of genital differences.

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