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Fischer, R.S. (2002). Prologue. Psychoanal. Inq., 22(2):165-169.

(2002). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 22(2):165-169


Ruth S. Fischer, M.D.

Psychoanalytic Interest in Human Sexuality Dates Back to the very beginning of psychoanalysis itself. Freud's earliest theory of psychosexual development identified three components of sexuality: sexual zone, aim, and object. The investigation into homosexuality began with the observation that the object, being the last of the components established, was the least fixed. Numerous articles addressed the phenomenon of homosexuality. Several specifically focused on female homosexuality. As efforts were made to understand the etiology, attention was directed toward the child's relationships with the parents. A constellation of overinvolvement of one parent with a lack of involvement of the other became the stereotypic family configuration that resulted in homosexuality in the child. At first, a skewed oedipal conflict resolution was considered the central factor. Later, preoedipal issues were considered determinative. More recently, male-female differences have become a focus of interest and efforts are being made to investigate lesbianism as a separate entity from male homosexuality. Increasingly, the lesbian voice is being heard.

Psychoanalytic theory has been evolving. It is not a static science. Ego psychology, object relations, self psychology, developmental theory, ideas about attunement and resonance, biologic givens, environmental impact, and sexual variation have been added to drive theory. Unfortunately, our understanding of lesbianism has not kept pace with our theoretical evolution. First, we needed to develop a new psychoanalytic understanding of female psychology and to appreciate male-female differences in constitutional givens, sexual and aggressive drive endowment, psychosexual development, and the development of object relations. We have begun to explore the importance of body sensations and body comparisons woman to woman as well as female to male.

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